Sunday, 23 December 2012

Last concert of 2012

So our last gig of 2012 is in the old administrative capital of Roman Belgium, Tongeron... staying in a hotel just above the Julianus shopping centre.... altogether now; veni, vidi, emi (as JC probably never said...)
Lots of Roman and Middle-age walls and cloisters etc all over town!

We did a mix of three shows tonight Best of British, Madrigal to McCartney with a bit of Christmas thrown in... & lovely it was; excellent hall and great staff... all very professional.  Lovely pre-show meal too!
Then it was indeed Belgian Beer o'clock; a good way to end our year... in which Britain celebrated the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, and in which cool & sweet Chloé appeared...

See you next year!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

More splendid Belgium

Two more lovely evenings in Belgium.
Firstly in a glorious church in Aartselaar - St Leonards (no, it was not by the sea) - with an enormously-packed churchful of people... who, as you might imagine, joined in the three carols (in Dutch) which we sang together with great gusto... They were ready for anything we gave them, and quite unfazed by Elvis' appearance from the vestry... and bought songbooks and CDs like there was no tomorrow; not that i am accusing such sensible people of believing the Mayan Apocalypse nonsense!

Then it was back to Herk-de-Stad, where we performed last Christmas too, this time doing our Best of British programme... and Chris Hatt turned up too for an end-of-term romp!  Chris was on great form, despite the looming alarm call at 5am to get him back to his family at Christmas...
Talking of families, Steve and Martene brought Chloé along, and she was fantastically well behaved in the concert... one squawk during our Ins and Outs of Cricket, and one very well-timed one as part of the Oy fest that is The Lambeth Walk... impeccable.
She is rather gorgeous...

Tonight we are in what we have been told is the oldest city in Belgium, Tongeren (as Julius Caesar would have known the place - well it is just a short hop from the English beaches he visited where we gave him an aggressive-ish welcome!)  J Caesar also said that the Belgae were the toughest of the lot (Steve tells me!)

Servo vestri pecker ascendit

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ghent (Gent)

Very splendid evening in Gent at the Capitole, a fine Christmas evening with a throng of merry people!
Joined by the wonderful Andy Massey at the piano (who was happy to put up with onstage abuse - all part of the act I assure you!), we had a wonderful time.

Lots of CDs and songbooks too flew off the selling table after the gig... hoorah - quite a few Songs of Cricket, as well as the more obvious Christmas albums...
Great that our tireless Belgian agent Thomas was there too...

Andy rose wonderfully to the challenge of See Amid the Winter's Snow (excellently arranged by Jonathan Rathbone) - I won't spoil it for those who have not seen it! - but he was great!  Chris Hatt will have a go next week...

Andy, Mike and I enjoyed a number of Christmas Leffes (and De Koninck too); when in Belgium etc...

Gent is a fine place to be just before Christmas.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Köln, then Bonn...

Two more German glories... Köln, then Bonn...
Well, more exactly, we were in Kalk, very much just on the edge of Köln & then at ... friendly bunches of people at both venues, sitting at tables and drinking (well, it helps)... and mopping up the Christmas atmosphere...
...This was alive & well in both places, and Xmas stalls were marvellous, if a little marred by rain in Bonn.

In Kalk, we were at the Burgerhaus, as part of the excellent Vocale 2012 celebration (which includes The Real Group, Maybebop and many others); and in Bonn we were in the lovely Haus der Springmaus... for our tenth visit!  Great to see everyone again... (tho' we hope Andrea gets better soon...)

In Bonn, Beethoven was keeping his counsel as to which of the documents left under his statue was most pertinent to his views!  He was also surrounded by railings... as if he wanted to start a riot...

We swap the cute German market square full of stalls for the cute Belgian market square from tomorrow... Ghent * here we come...

Four gents in Gent ** - (geddit??) five as we are accompanied there by Andy Massey)....

*     English spelling
**    Belgian spelling

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Nienburg (Weser), DE

Another beautiful small town in Germany...Nienburg/Weser, (we are indeed in Le Carré's Bonn, tomorrow... Köln tonight...)
...but last night an excellent theatre, full to the gills of people and Christmas jollity!
Elvis (Steve) was in the building again... and as is so often the case everyone was splendid and looked after us famously...

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Skipton, then St Bride Inst. once more

Train trip up north to a crisp and frosty Yorkshire (much like the rest of the crisp and frosty UK, I suppose) led us to Skipton... where we are returning after a few years.

Skipton was indeed looking particularly Christmassy, and the gateway to the dales shone with beauty...
Nice bookshops & great fish & chips too... Lovely evening, and the audience were kind and appreciative of our Madrigal to McCartney show (we did Christmas last time!)

Particularly delighted to have two old friends from Croydon in the audience, who years ago escaped the city life for the better air/views/stonework in Yorkshire... lovely to catch up.
I do rather think, we'll be back up here... it's all rather glorious!

Then rather too quickly chased back home, but to another cute Christmas evening, once again, at the St Bride Institute - definitely for the good and the good of that organisation!... a delight too...

Then it's Germany come Friday...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

St Bride Institute Xmas concert

Another lovely evening at the St Bride Institute, Bride Lane, celebrating Christmas, and having a jolly mince-pie time.

To have the great and the good of this excellent organisation there was splendid... (and there's more next week!)

Two people of great influence over our Songs of Cricket CD were there; David Rayvern Allen who provided the music knowledge & Jonny Knowles who supported us through it... both there (with family) to hear The Ins and outs of Cricket & Stilgoe's Barmy Army...

...and we had an even more splendid end to the evening, as two 'carols' combined; a plan hatched last year supposedly, between our own Carole, who does so much for us with the mailing list and CD sales, and a long-serving fan Carol, who made a Cantabile-The-London-Quartet-30th-Anniversary cake which was shared by everyone in the audience. How scrumptious it was.
Thank you, both 'carols'! A lovely gesture; much appreciated... and still, as we have some in our houses!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Vienna too

Apart from:

a) it starting to snow the minute I left the hotel for a mite of Christmas-stall-shopping (unluckily for me, no-one was selling Christmas stalls)


b) having to watch an older lady with a distinct and rather neatly designed moustache at my afternoon dinner (The rest of her family were not in the slightest bit surprised; perhaps there is a sort of Austrian Movember for women in December?) She looked like she was in the RAF in WWII...

Today was as gorgeous as yesterday here in the City of Music.

The audience seemed especially keen tonight on our Dick und Doof impression (Laurel and Hardy to you!) - I am still (rather unfairly in my view) cast as the fat one!

Our old friends Elizabeth and Harald came over from Salzburg too which was splendid...

On to the Bridewell Institute tomorrow for more festive fun!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Vienna once again!

Sitting in our hotel amongst the glory of Imperial Vienna... wonderful!
Back at the cute and cuddly Theatre am Spittelberg which we were last at in the Summer, for two concerts as part of the ever-excellent Voice Mania (fifteen years old this year)....
There is an excellent Christmas market all up and down the theatre street.
However, with us, Christmas, silliness & the odd hat/costume has come to Wien.

Thanks to Lotti Viola who helped us with some German words for the end of our US Presidential list song {Presidential Precedents by Jeremy Nicholas (German end went well!)} - great to have two old friends (Lotti and Regula) in the audience.

I think Steve rather likes dressing up as Elvis:- good news, he has a few more goes at it before December 24th...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Royal Albert Hall

Wonderful evening in the Royal Albert Hall, in the Elgar Room.
A packed room (we could only just get to the stage!) of people from all over - quite a high percentage of Scandanavians! - enjoyed a great Christmas atmosphere.
The ever-excellent Chris Hatt joined us at the piano for all sorts of Seasonal, funny & nostalgic items.

Winter Wonderland, Festival of Carols in 2 minutes & Chestnuts Roasting...
Oranges and lemons (as from our new Songbook - the Great British a cappella one)
...and naturally the Hee Bee Gee Bees!
Mike did his Bing thing too on White Christmas too...
...and Strangers in the Night, with a huge photo of Ol' Blue Eyes looking on...

Lovely room & terrific happy people...

Hope we'll be back!