Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year from Jena!

Well, I say Jena, in fact in the airport hotel in Frankfurt... awaiting flying home in the AM.  Also it has BBC's 1 & 2 on TV, which is nice...

Jena was as full and exciting as two years ago on New Year's Eve... wonderful reception, and glorious full house at home of the Jenaer Philharmonie.
Jena is home to the first skyscraper in Germany & the first large Planetarium in the world as it was a main centre for Carl Zeiss starting in the 19th century...

Carole's (& our) friend, Birgit was on hand to sell CDs etc (as she was at Dresden) - and of course did a great job... good to see her again.

So, a busy December draws to a close...
Thanks for reading this year, everyone...

Oh, and... (whether it has happened yet, or not)...


See you in 2014

Monday, 30 December 2013

Bad Elster & Halle

Just realising that starting these last two emails' titles with BAD is not such a great idea!
Ho hum...

Here's the wonderful frontage of the König Albert Theater, Bad Elster... with our name in red... hooray!
Great theatre with great staff - and excellent restaurant just around the corner... yum!
Lovely acoustic in this glorious theatre, and a super enthusiastic audience... & a great penchant for cricket tea towels... we will have to get/create more...!

In Bad Elster we were just on the border of the Czech Republic, and it another very beautiful spa town, where people were taking holidays/cures etc in very lovely surroundings...

Then it was on to Halle, where Handel first learnt his trade... and hence a statue in the main square (just around the corner from China garden restaurant where I got my dinner, which I am sure was the height of fashion in Handel's time)...

... should you wish to look up Handel's skirt, this is the place to come.

We sang in a beautiful Konzerthalle which was/is a church, just shy of the main square; The 12 Tenors are coming here in March next year... (is that too many all at once?)... We had the great privilege of sitting on the double bass stools of the orchestra who rehearse here - what joys...

Another excellent audience, lots of happy smiling faces in the front row... very good of the happy people to come to the front!

Just one more concert this year; Jena at 17:00.... then roll on 2014!


Saturday, 28 December 2013

Bad Kreuznach & Dresden

Christmas break??!!

Two re-visits to beautiful Germany after almost two years...
Firstly to Bad Kreuznach (quite near Frankfurt); a gorgeous Spa-type place & staying in a glorious hotel which we did not have the time to enjoy properly!  Although the restaurant was still up to the excellent standards we remember... no snow this year (we got it in January last year!)
Very international audience, including some Brits; as well as a gentleman from Florida and a lady from Barbados... who both spend much of their time (via marriages) in Germany...

Then on to Dresden today, for another chance to sing in the excellent Dreikönigskirche - lovely acoustic... Great to sing Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus & the original Coventry Carol in such a building.

Both concerts afforded us delightful warm audiences who loved everything we did... what more could one ask? Oh, and they appreciated our CDs and music too; songbooks were off like hot cakes & cricket tea towels too!

Will explore Dresden a bit more in the AM (it was quite drive here today, so we got here late-ish)... then...
...On to Bad Elster, Halle and Jena before it becomes 2014...

Friday, 20 December 2013

Chicoutimi - Vienna - London

Amazing few days In Québec, Austria & London - sorry general busyness & internet connection in Vienna, would not allow me to write till now!

Hooray - 2nd concert as delightful as the first in Québec... this time in Chicoutimi, where we performed our first ever Canadian gig 10 years ago.... Lovely to be back!
...and of course just like the first, fabulous to be accompanied by a great Symphony Orchestra...
Very many splendours, and a full-house cheering all the way... what joys...
Thank you to Jacques and all the musicians for making us feel so very welcome...
The choir said they were happier as they could hear us better in the concert hall, but they sounded excellent both nights...  Great fun!

We achieved our short hop flight to Montréal easily (thank you, Pierre-Paul for stalwart driving)... although there was a great deal of snow about... and got back to London on Monday AM, full of the joys of spring... 26 and a half hours in UK is clearly plenty...

...so Tuesday, on to the lovely Theater am Spittelberg, Vienna, where we have been twice a year for the last two years... thank you, Nusschi for inviting us... lovely as snow is, it was terrific to be in Vienna at Christmas without having to wade through the stuff! Very fine temperatures.... until the day we left.  Carole had joined us on the trip, and her company was gorgeous of course... but when we left early to get back for the Bridewell... she was left cope with the Vienna newly-appearing sleet and snow... good timing for us at least!
Other old friends we saw there were Elizabeth & Harald, Regula, and Lotti.... wonderful to see them all... and of course the splendid Chinese restaurant just around the corner from the hotel & theatre which keeps a glorious buffet ready at all times!
Sleigh Ride key jangling was very fine - especially on the second night for some reason!

So a quick hop back to London & another regular haunt, the St Bride Institute, off Fleet Street.... a very splendid hall in which to sing...
Lovely atmosphere - all had worked hard to make the hall look very festive... well done to Mikey and the team... and for Glyn struggling around with his busted leg...
Lovely to have old friends David Cullen & Peter Knight in the audience with their wives (well, one each...); and we sang one song arranged by David, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and one by Peter's Dad, 12 Days of Christmas...
In these last three concerts, we dusted off Yodel in German and English, as apropos, to the delight of ourselves at least... and the audiences also seemed to enjoy it too!
Our other friend called Carol appeared at the Bridewell with some chocolate lollipops with our image on them... a great surprise! Will these be a start to merchandising heaven to come?!

Our pre-Christmas season has drawn to a close... our post-Christmas dash is in Germany from 27th-31st... Then after a week off - it is to Minsk for the first time...
...and of course, Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas orchestral concert - Roberval

Brilliant times...
Lovely evening in Roberval in the Église Notre-Dame with full symphony orchestra & chorus, Jacques Clément at the helm, and TLQ.

The massive, modern, church (built in the 1970s) is a huge round thing (well possibly octagonal) - a bit like a U.F.O. from the outside... and very striking both inside and out - huge modern stained glass windows all around on every side.

Plenty of room for l'Orchestre Symphonique du Saguenay - Lac-Saint-Jean, and a 50-strong chorus...
So much joy - the chorus sang a sweet French song Pour Noël, as well as some splendid Rutter... King Jesus Had a Garden and Donkey Carol.... we all performed Rutter's Sans Day Carol together... and the climax of the concert, The Lion King classic, Can You Feel the Love Tonight? was superb with the chorus creating the African backing vocals excellently... (a première for this bigger orchestration!)
The orchestra performed two exquisite medleys of carols (particularly impressed with the very romantic take on Quelle est cette odeur...? in one).

We performed some a cappella favourites, but it was mainly a delight to work with all the musicians in the building, and to perform pieces we know well, on a larger canvas.  Sleigh Ride, Wexford Carol, Tua Bethlem dref, Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, Schlafendes Jesuskind, Süßer die Glocken nie klingen... & Pie Jesu (from Lloyd-Webber's Requiem)... all wonderfully accompanied by Jacques and the musicians...

What a joy!

Talking of joy, one of the orchestra told us she was particularly pleased to see us, as she had been in the OSQ (l'Orchestre Symphonique de Québec) when we did some snowy concerts with them (one February!), and she had appeared at the front of the stage when the leader needed a new string... and was espied by her husband-to-be; thus she felt we had contributed to this flourishing union... (they have two children too!) - very heart-warming...

Even better, we can do it all again in Chicoutimi tomorrow today!


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Canadian Orchestral Concerts

Hooray - we're in snowy, quite freezing, but beautiful Québec province... Chicoutimi to be precise... We have two concerts with l'Orchestre Symphonique du Saguenay - Lac-St-Jean... tomorrow night in a big church in Robertval and the next night in Chicoutimi itself... marvellous.

We've rehearsed all day to day with the orchestra and the choir and it has been a great joy.
Conductor, Jacques Clément also splendid...
All shall be super, & we'll report on this after the first gig, but enjoyed rehearsing with the choir and orchestra in Can You Feel the Love Tonight? ...with African backing vocals.... brilliant!
Must tell Sir T. that it is billed as Can You Fell the Love Tonight? - perhaps not the same idea at all!

Of course there are also lots of Christmas hits and glories...

More anon...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Neumünster & Itzehoe

Quite north now in DE... but we have been saved very low temperatures...
Final two German dates until after Xmas...

A new place - Neumünster aptly - & Itzehoe which saw our Best of British show last year...
The Stadhalle and the Theater respectively.... both full of enthusiasm...and people!
Delighted to have some old friends of my wife's family in the audience at the first of these - they live nearby in Kiel.

In all our DE tour, there has been tremendous rattling of keys when asked for - to accompany us in Sleigh Ride - the composer, Leroy Anderson would be most pleased... at the weekend we will be performing the same piece (and much other Christmas joy) with the Chicoutimi Symphony Orchestra, in Québec province, Canada...
Can't wait - altho' North America is a mite parky at the moment... I'll take all my clothes and wear them one of top of the other... that'll do the trick.  -9°, -14°... pah!

Home for 28.5 hours from tomorrow lunchtime... time to get a Christmas tree, I think...

Monday, 9 December 2013

Bayreuth & Hameln

Now there's a juxtaposition you may not see so often... two cities linked to giant global Germanic myths... the home of Wagner and Total Art & the home of the Pied Piper!

Both concerts a great joy, of course... a full house in Bayreuth were chock-a-block with Christmas joie de vivre & we had a very noisy time with all the joining in! 
...and there was an especial desire for cricket tea towels... we sold so many!
In fact we sold more tea towels at Hameln and have none left!  What a beautiful city Hameln is - unhurt and still in its Middle-Age glory... Another splendid evening here too!
We are enjoying sharing 'The Ins and Outs of Cricket' with Germany and passing out cricket tea towels of the same; but we are taking no notice of our very poor English cricket side's exploits in Australia... that is too depressing!
Onwards to Neumünster

Friday, 6 December 2013

Langenau & Cham

Two more German gigs have come and gone now.... in Langenau & in Cham.
Now we are truly in frosty (and this afternoon, snowy) winter weather... luckily only a two-hour drive to Bayreuth tomorrow...

Langenau was a splendid... in one of the cultural quarters which Germany create so well amidst the library, sports centre etc... brilliant.
Packed all and lovely Stollen too...
Great joys; an old friend of Magenta and TLQ, Bettina was there to help sell our merchandise... not just CDs, not just printed music, but cricket tea towels too!
Wonderful to see her... she 'only' lives 100km away... so that's near!

Tonight a return visit to Cham (pronounced calm), near the Czech border, here in Bavaria...amidst the Bayerische Wald (forest to you, mate).. it did look beautiful in the snow!  ...tho' it failed to settle...
Great audience, full of fun & we were given presents by the Lady Mayor... all super... (we'll try not to consume them all before getting home!)

As ever we are catered for at these venues very well and the hotels and restaurants are just too good!

Thursday, 5 December 2013


Excellent start to 12 Magenta/Peter Martin Jakob concerts this month in Germany... at Capitol, Mannheim...

Lovely space to sing in, enthusiastic audience, lots of CDs and songbooks sold... and even a cricket tea-towel, would you believe it?!

Marvellous all round; and an English cricket umpire/scorer/coach there too.... he keeps cricket going in this region of Germany.

This morning we had breakfast surrounded by an 80s (well, and still going) rock band, and their entourage, whose name I did not catch... they said they were going to somewhere in the GDR in a couple of days... still stuck in the 80s, it seems!

Now we're in Langenau awaiting another glorious Christmas evening...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Tamworth - ancient capital of Mercia

To Tamworth, ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mercia... this was always the Midlands (but never Wales), but also stretching to the South in its pomp... (everywhere but Cornwall)...
Excellent castle, and good market to wander around... & the Assembly Rooms sit on or near the site of Offa's Castle... you know the one who built the Dyke to keep the Welsh in Wales in the 8th century... as our resident Welshman, Mike points out... it never worked! ...and there was another Welsh chap in the audience!
Later Tamworth was the home to Sir Robert Peel, creator of the Tamworth pig and the Tamworth manifesto... I make no comment on which of these is more important... politics is not at home in this blog!
That's enough history... great to see a new place; we've never been here before.

Lovely people in the Assembly Rooms, being generous and kind with their time and efforts... and our first Christmas outing of the year was suitably joy-filled.  The first of many audiences this month to have Steve as Elvis thrust upon them... and whilst on icons of pop, we were performing on a stage where The Rolling Stones had performed 50 years and a day ago (and The Beatles just a few months before that)... so maybe history is never that far away!
A lovely evening in the middle of England...

Awaiting our first of 12 German shows this month in .... Mannheim:

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Star-studded celebration

To Lord's cricket ground, and a splendid dinner in the Long Room...

A room full of friends and family of Neil Durden-Smith celebrating a large-ish birthday (I do not think he is worried about it, but I will not give away the divisible-by-10 number); this gentleman being the husband of Judith Chalmers...
Lots of others off the telly were at this Lady Taverners' event.
Nicholas Parsons, Tim Rice, Richard Stilgoe, Esther Rantzen, Angela Rippon, Chris Tarrant, Bill Tidy, & Colin Cowdrey.

Always a great privilege to be at Lord's - and as there were no ladies changing for this gig, we were in the home dressing room - honours boards newly-decorated with Broad & Root's exploits in 2013...

Very much the best response to being asked to sing The Lambeth Walk we have had for a very long time... they seemed to know it very well... perhaps it was their era!

We also had the joy of singing with the great Sir TRice, backing him, as ever, in Wanderin' Star.
...and nobody threw anything. Marvellous!

Now we turn our thoughts to a very busy Christmas period in Tamworth, Germany, Canada, Vienna, Bridewell Institute and Germany again between Xmas and New Year.... phew!
All details on website:

UK dates:
Tamworth tickets here! - Tuesday 3rd December @ 19:30
Bridewell tickets here! - Thursday 19th December @ 19:00

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Elgar Room - Masterpieces

A wonderful evening at the Royal Albert Hall...
..whilst hordes of schoolchildren were enjoying day three of the Music & Youth concerts in the RAH, we gave our Masterpieces in the Elgar Room - a splendid room for cabaret there.

Having had a great evening there last Christmas, it was a delight to repeat the excellent experience ...

There are photos of famous artists all round the room, so we had the idea (well, Richard did!) of giving an entertainment where all the people pictured are heard.... I won't go into it in nit-picking detail, but all these people were name-checked and at least one piece of theirs heard...

Edward Elgar
Nina Simone
Yehudi Menuhin
Jacqueline Du Pré
Frank Zappa
Ray Charles
Johnny Cash
Jimmy Hendrix
James Brown
Ella Fitzgerald
Frank Sinatra
George Harrison & John Lennon
Duke Ellington
Marvin Gaye
& also
Elton John (his picture is not there, but his red grand piano is on permanent loan to the room!)

To complete this task 37 pieces were required - some of these were in medleys, otherwise we'd have been there all night!
Lots of new things for us, and amongst the splendour was a recreation of the duet of It's a Man's Man's Man's World  as sung by two of our photos - James Brown and Pavarotti! We also found another way of hijacking the audience (well, a couple in it) using Frank Zappa!
Also a chance to do some things in the UK that have previously been only seen on mainland Europe, such as our Beatles medley on a train & our Pomp and Circumstance/Best of British parody... (both as imagined by Julian and Maggie Forsyth).

We were joined on the piano by our old friend Paul Plummer... excellent to work with him again.

Huge fun!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

North Belgium #2

...and on to Maaseik.
On Friday night a concert in a beautiful church... and also the chance to hear a wonderful brass sextet to warm the audience up - lovely, sonorous sounds... and very virtuosic - excellent Tuba-ness!

A very beautiful space in which to sing (Sint Annakerk van Aldeneik - Maaseik) - with ancient paintings on the walls - re-discovered under the later paintwork - & very old graves on show too...
Bist Du bei Mir was especially delightful to sing in the acoustic...

We were in this wonderful part of Europe where the European ideal is so clear... as on the same road you can drive for 7 kilometres, starting in Belgium, traversing The Netherlands and ending up in Germany (of course, not a passport control in sight):- so we went to see some old friends in Holland after the concert, as it was so near! Good to see Gertie, Gabby, 'Reet and Jo...in their own town... we will actually perform in Holland in 2014... More details when we know them!

On Saturday morning three workshops at Stedelijke Academie voor Muziek & Woord...
Thank you to Gerrie of the Academie for looking after us at Maaseik so splendidly...
We had a lovely time sharing the joy of singing with the children's choir, the adult choir and a delightful sextet of young women... all three groups were excellently taught and it was great to be with both staff and singers for the morning... Thanks to all for being able to cope with three of us speaking English (even the youngsters), and of course to Steve for talking in Flemish too!
A very uplifting morning...

Thursday, 7 November 2013

North Belgium #1

First of three events here in rainy Northern Belgium.... at a castle in Meeuwen-Gruitrode.

Great to sing in a castle, innit!? Excellent audience, and we got to change in an old library too!
...they were particularly splendid at singing "rat-da-dat-da-dat" in chanson d'amour.

Two more dates to come, just around the corner, both in Maaseik - a concert in a church and some workshops...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Elgar Room - Royal Albert Hall

It's only small, so get your tickets soon!
We are back at the Elgar Room at 8pm on November 13th, after our Christmas show there last year...

Details here...

...should be fun; there are lots of photos in the room of famous RAH types - and we are going to sing them all... come along and see how (why?) we do it...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lunchtime in Yorkshire

An excellent day, and that rare thing, a mid-week lunchtime concert in a Town Hall!
Dewsbury Town Hall to be exact...
Lovely weather greeted us (the BBC-promised rain came as we entered the train to go home!) & the town looked as splendid as last year...
A good crowd was there, and enjoyed our singing; they even joined in with Lion Sleeps Tonight very melodiously!

...and an old friend who was involved in A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Thameside Globe Theatre in London with me a few years back, also turned up - how lovely...

A delightful day return to Dewsbury...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

TV appearance

Should you wish to see us (with Tylaine) on VRT een from last Sunday; click this link...

Look under "Afzonderlijke fragmenten".

Monday, 30 September 2013

Belgian Busyness... then Chelsea

Firstly on Saturday night there was Ninove (just down the road from Bethlehem & Nazareth, but in Belgium!), where we gave our Madrigal to McCartney show - splendid welcome and excellent food at a local restaurant before the show.
We were joined for this show by the lovely Tylaine Van den Broeck on piano; delightful to have her with us... a terrific addition to our list of musical friends...

Then the next morning (up less early than the day before!) we appeared once again on De Zevende Dag - Andrew Marr-type show... hopefully we were a welcome counterpoint to politicians arguing with each other (and the journalists skewering all their arguments very well!)...
We sang a short version of Penny Lane, & Scarborough Fair with Tylaine on piano...
When we get the link to this online - we'll share it with you...

Time to rest you might think, but then it was on to the Eurostar to get home in time for a 6pm show at the Chelsea Arts Club:- started by the painter Whistler, it is a club for artists & creative people where no photos (and thus phones these days) are allowed... so I cannot show you anything about, or even tell you who was there!  But the crowd were a delight and we had a great time entertaining them, and a very fine meal afterwards...

No; really time for a rest now....

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Busy BEes

A busy four days in Belgium, started with an evening in Scherpenheuvel-Bever at Den Egger... singing Best of British - Madrigal to McCartney - great night for all... & an excellent reaction form the public... who tell us on facebook that they want us to return...(just ask...!?) 

Then on to Strombeek for Best of British... And Now for Something Completely Different at the CC Strombeek Grimbergen - terrific chock-a-block audience loved it all, and we were joined for this show, as so often by the excellent Chris Hatt, who was ever-dependent on piano... He's gone to Amsterdam today to audition children for his day job... Musical director of Billy Elliot (in Holland from 2015)...
New mask for end of show... Kate Middleton appeared carrying a baby (well done, Steve) and Chris became Mr Bean...playing Chariots of Fire - what larks!
Lovely theatre and staff - just as we have come to expect in Belgium...

Up very early this morning (5.30) for an appearance on En Nu Serieus on VRT Radio 2.  We had asked whether there was the possibility of an iron, as there was an audience for the show... at first they suggested not, but then they found a local company (this show wanders the country & is in a different place each week - Harelbeke today!) who would (on radio) show off their pressing prowess... so our costumes were ironed live on air... it was quite odd standing in our underwear on the stage while we waited (I jest)... Despite the hour Penny Lane came out in a recognisable fashion!
Steve was then interviewed about chip shops... he tried to talk about our concerts!
We were back in our hotel rooms by ten to catch up on sleep...

...Before tonight's Best of British - Madrigal to McCartney at Ninove... with Tylaine Van den Broeck on piano...

Another dawn raid tomorrow, as we sing two songs (with Tylaine) & have an interview on De Zevende Dag (Andrew Marr / Sunday politics-type show)... In studio by 8am!
I am very aware we are doing some TV as I have a wonderful boil/spot on my nose... medley from Cyrano de Bergerac anyone? (this always happens - TV make-up will disguise!)

Then back to UK via Eurostar (marvellous) for a show at Chelsea Arts Club...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Beautiful Northern Germany

Well, we landed in the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwerin & were very impressed!
We have to admit to not having heard of it before!
A beautiful place - Schwerin castle looking gloriously Disney and lots of lakeside loveliness...

It was another splendid 'a cappella nacht' - we were with two other groups; our old friends, the lovely Medlz from Dresden, and some new friends, Juice Box from Northern Germany...
Great to see the girls again, and they began the evening wonderfully, coping well with the declining temperature; then Juice Box gave us their folk/latin/a cappella music... mostly written by one of the group Joachim Rust... delightful!

As ever, such a pleasure to share the stage with other vocal groups... and share our musics with an enthusiastic crowd...

Richard & Steve had great fun with the above; Richard flounced off (acting, for dramatic effect, natch) &Steve went to get him... in the dark Richard cracked his shins on the sheep... it did its job of protecting the wires well yet it did hurt Richard's legs!  As Steve replaced the animal, Richard reminded Steve of his needing to think of legal issues when handling a sheep...

Monday, 9 September 2013

Swiss weekend

Two splendid evenings in late summer sun in Swiss (rain only coming as we came home!)...
Firstly a concert at the newly-refurbished hall at Gasthaus zum Trauben, Weinfelden... great place in which to sing & a delight to have our rooms just upstairs!  As ever, old friends and new were there to greet us... very musical joining in with Lion Sleeps Tonight...

Then the next day on to sing at Michael & Fabienne Brandenburger's party at Greuterhof, Islikon:- a wonderful project (in which Michael is very much involved) turning old farm buildings into a restaurant, hotel & conference centre (the restaurant is already up and running)... we sang in the courtyard and four other rooms and up and down the stairs, as we shepherded the guests musically to & from the various parts of their culinary evening...
Lovely atmosphere, and the weather was well behaved despite all warnings in the negative...

Thanks to our old friend Silvan Isenring for organising all this (Lovely to see Andrea too, of course & delightful to see Michel sit through our whole gig - he's only wee!)

Terrific food all weekend too!

Monday, 2 September 2013

late Summer night in Soho

A Delightful birthday celebration evening at Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho last night.... the jazz singer Kate Dimbleby and also the drummer Sophie, both had round-numbered anniversaries (no, I will not tell you which they are!)...
Lots of musicians about, Geoff Eales & Naadia Sheriff (pianists), Jonty Fisher (Bass), the afore-mentioned Sophie, Bristolian singer, Alex Wiseman and a surprise guest, John Quejillo on guitar!

We sang (accompanying Kate, of course) He's a Tramp (with Geoff, Jonty and Sophie) & Everybody eats When They Come to My House - a Cab Calloway tune (with Naadia, Jonty and Sophie); as well as The Hi-Lo's (Gene Puerling's) glorious arrangement of Brahms Lullaby, and to keep the audience frisky Strangers in the Night.

Lovely evening - great to work with Kate and her friends, too; splendid singing - the taster of her Dory Previn and her Peggy Lee shows were terrific.... Geoff Eales did a monster of a piano solo - his own composition, Song for my Mother - beautiful...

A Guitarist at the bar asked to join in at the end of the evening and did marvellous flamenco guitar as well as adding excellent solos to the last two blues numbers of the evening! John Quejillo - thank you!

Gorgeous to be a small part of a wonderful evening...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Vienna - biannual fix

Two splendid (mainly sunny) days in Vienna over the weekend - two more nights in the charming Theater am Spittelberg in the midst of the MQ (Museum Quarter)... Imperial splendour:- oh yes!
Hundertwasser, Prater, Venus of Willendorf, Mozart & Haydn... all explored!

Glorious times in Vienna as always... & great to share our Happy Hour...and a half with them!
We're back in the theatre in December (perhaps it will be colder!) on December 17th & 18th...

On Sunday night (1st Sept.) we are at the Dean Street Pizza Express (Soho, London) as guests of the excellent Jazz singer, Kate Dimbleby... accompanying her in Peggy Lee's great He's a Tramp and doing a few other bits....
Should be fun! (Doors open at 6.30)

Friday, 9 August 2013

Mel Smith's funeral

Last week, Peter Brewis, an old friend of Cantabile & Mel & Griff's MD asked us to sing at Mel Smith's funeral. 
An truly honourable invitation!

Cantabile were asked in the 80s & 90s to sing quite a number of musical routines for gags on the BBC (Alas) Smith & Jones shows; so Peter thought it would be fine if we sang Ar hyd y Nos (All Through The Night) to send the great man off... We had an interesting tussle with the organist once the English words started... and the congregation joined for two verses... he must have thought it needed to be one only... giggles all round.

As you can imagine the speeches were also very funny:- lots of laughter during this event! - Of course Griff gave a wonderful tribute...

Good to see Richard & Griff in a manly-Footlights-embrace at the end.... they teach this sort of thing at Cambridge, you know!

Moving and Hilarious - a rather tremendous afternoon... a smattering of famous types around... I can't tell you who now, can I?

Thank you, Peter, Griff ...and of course, Mel...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Sunny (occasionally stormy) Germany

Two splendid gigs in the sunshine in Germany...
Firstly a Peter Martin Jakob a cappella nacht in Fritzlar... in the open air just outside the Dom... In the afternoon this did look a very dodgy idea, but we had rain just for about two minutes and then all was blessedly (and decidedly) hot.
We shared the stage with excellent VoxNorth from Denmark (altho', like so many excellent vocal groups, one of them was a Belgian! - their wonderful Flemish chap is Roxorloops, beatboxer par excellence)...
They provided a lovely mix of Nordic folk sounds with percussion (both live and mouth) & pop/jazz too... Great to have another vocal group friendship!
The audience were terrific & happy to stay up nice and late to see both acts... we were delighted that our Dutch friends, 'Reet, Jo, Jolene & Jasper were only holiday in Germany near enough to come and see us - a great joy to see them! ... also Birgit came for the second weekend in a row - one day we shall have a concert where she actually lives, so she need not drive!

Then it was simply a train ride down to Friedrichshafen:- simple you might think... but not when we are chasing an electrical storm all the way down there... enough trees were felled on a particular branch of track that we were delayed for four hours & had to finish the trip by taxi.... We did got the performance tent on the banks of lake Constance with 42 minutes to spare!
Friedrichshafen was both a great relief, and as beautiful as when we were here in 2001 & 2002.
The concert went very well - an excellently excitable & appreciative audience & thanks to our Swiss friend Silvan for coming over the border... We'll see him again in early September for the two gigs he has organised in CH.

They did have a dark beer for me to sup afterwards - splendidly names Zeppelin, which I drank in the shadow of Zeppelin house, just down the road from the Museum... there was even one in the sky as we started our journey home this am...
If you're interested - New Zeppelin History

We have an interesting Friday this week - more news once it is done... (sorry, you're going to have to wait!)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Soho party night

A fascinating evening in central London...
Forgive the swank.... (if you fear I am being rude, do please look the word up)...

Tim Rice, for it is he, invited us to sing at a charity party - the summer get together for Samaritans in London.... we entertained these wonderful people, before allowing them to get on with their party... and even accompanying the great man in his excellent hit... Wanderin' Star... the people in the crowded top room above a bar in Soho were splendid, and good (if sweaty) fun was had by all...

Afterwards we were invited to an excellent place, Brasserie Zédel - which is home to the Crazy Coqs cabaret venue... and there, would you believe it we bumped into C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels - amazing... & he joined us for a meal.

So we had much discussion of the entertainment business, both musicals - Tim's new show, From Here to Eternity opens in preview next month - and Star Wars too... I was able to tell Anthony how much my family and I had enjoyed his MC-ing of the Star Wars orchestral concert/show at the O2...

Quite er.... out of this world!

Back on planet Earth, off to Germany at the weekend... (The F's tour... Fritzlar & Friedrichshafen).

Friday, 26 July 2013

St Michaeliskirche, Hildesheim

Beautiful sunny summer evening in St Michaeliskirche, Hildesheim
Lovely building and excellent acoustic. (Do look at above link...)

Entitled O Sing Joyfully! - we sang early music for the most part for the first half... Arcadelt, Henry VIII, Hildegard of Bingen, Byrd, Mozart & Batten (whose anthem provided the title).... as well as Bist Du bei mir (Stölzel, of course) and Thoinot Arbeau, with some Peter Warlock touches (two movements from Capriol).

Our more conventional fare in the second half from Johann Strauss to Billy Joel via Ellington and Frank Sinatra.

Our delightful German audience were happy to join us in our journey from the middle of the 12th century to today!  ...and seemed gloriously happy about it.
Thanks so much for Sven for looking after us...

Another sojourn to Germany next weekend (Fritzlar (with Voxnorth from Denmark) and Friedrichshafen)... more fun in the sun!

btw.... two brushes with fame... I walked past Andy Flower at Heathrow before this trip (he's the England Cricket Coach - doing quite a good job at the mo!) & also, when I went to see Maria Freidman's wonderful production of my favourite musical ever - Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along - A certain Lord Lloyd Webber was in the audience... small world, eh!?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Wonderful evening with St Edmund's - Madrigal to McCartney

We had a terrific time listening to, and performing with the young people from St Edmund's Canterbury on their UK tour - Cambridge, London, Windsor... we were the London quotient!

We sang in that fantastic London church - Grosvenor Chapel, just south of the US Embassy.

The first half was from the school chamber choir - we sat in awe with everybody else as Will Bersey conducted them singing fabulously.... some of our favourite pieces... beginning with exquisite Faire is the Heaven by William Harris - sung with great assurance... and from memory!  Much excellence followed, music by Gershwin, Whitacre, Rodney Bennett, Hamlisch and Lennon & McCartney... an excellent Edition Peters moment too - Ola Gjeilo - a splendid Norwegian composer... his Second Eve was especially beautiful... (all enquiries to Edition Peters!)

Also heard were the five young gentlemen of  the Ex-Choristers - lovely ensemble... They sang Palestrina, Sullivan and Lennon & McCartney - all very finely done.

We sang a couple of songs with them too - both of which are heard on our albums, but which need more voices to be performed live....

With the Chamber Choir: Noel Gay's Love Makes the World Go Round (in 22 parts)
With the Ex-Choristers: Over the Rainbow (in 8 parts)

Both were great to be involved with; splendid to unleash David Cullen's huge orchestral/vocal arrangement, but the latter was especially great (and is a particularly moving arrangement anyway by Andrew Pryce Jackman) as it was apparently the Ex-Choristers swansong as they all disappear off to University.  Spine-tingling and wonderful it felt to us & the audience seemed as moved...

We finished off the evening with 45 more minutes of Madrigal to McCartney - and of course ending with a rendition of The Lambeth Walk - OY!

Carole was there to greet friends old & new - splendid; and we even had a visit from Gertie - all the way from The Netherlands... fabulous!

Great to share a concert with these excellent young people, they were wonderfully professional and more poised than I ever remember being at that age!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Upcoming London Concert - July 9th

Come and see us in central London:
Grosvenor Chapel, Tuesday July 9th at 7.30....
A joint concert with St Edmund's School, Canterbury...

Get your tickets here

You can see two songs which can only be heard on CD - Love Makes the World Go Round (from Music of the Night - which requires 22 parts) & Over the Rainbow (from A Tribute to Hollywood - which requires 8 parts)... a must for all!

See you there!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Romanian trip

Our annual trip to Alba Iulia in Romania was splendid once more!
Our old friend Mihai Coser invited us once more to host an evening of vocal harmony - this year our guests were the excellent Berliner quartet - Delta Q.
They were terrific:- as ever, wonderful to meet another vocal band & to share in their excellence; they are indeed a teensy weensy bit younger than us! - nonetheless very very accomplished.... especially enjoyed their funky In einem kühlen Grunde & their countdown medley... great ending too... I feel good!
Steve was good enough to sing Skyfall - this time accompanied by us and Chris Hatt, who flew out to join us on piano - and Delta Q also sang an Adele number - clearly she is well-loved in Romania as the songs went down good!

Now we look forward to our gig with St Edmund's School, Canterbury - we had a rehearsal with them tonight, and the pieces we are doing with them already sound great - and they are still rehearsing all next week... should be cool at Grosvenor Chapel on July 9th....7.30 (It's in central London!)

Get your tickets here!

Friday, 14 June 2013

London in the summer

London in the Summer - What could be better!
First port of call, The Oval, naturally... the only disappointment being that England were beaten by Sri Lanka!  However, the match was excellent; we batted well & they batted better!

Also in the crowd near us, was tenor Richard Edgar-Wilson - too far away for me to bellow over the crowd, & they were so very careful about everyone being in the correct section of the ground... but belatedly hello, Richard, should you read this!

...and what else might one do?  Go to a summer concert of course.
July 9th we are very much looking forward to... we will get to perform two things that need greater forces to occur... Brilliantly we are joined by St Edmund's Canterbury's choirs...

Love Makes the World Go Round - David Cullen's sparkling arrangement of the jolly Noel Gay song, in 22 parts!
Over the Rainbow - Andrew Pryce Jackman's excellent arrangement from A Tribute to Hollywood for 2 of each of the group, so we can do it with the school's vocal group...

Come to the Grosvenor Chapel on July 9th - not to be missed!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Yorkshire idyll

Beautiful weather greeted us at Ilkley station, where we performed at the excellent Ilkley Playhouse...
Delightful, as ever, to work in the UK, and also for me to meet again my English teacher (from when we were both very much younger!) Walter Swan, who is in charge of the Playhouse.
We were looked after tremendously & despite all the railway companies best efforts, our journeys were excellent.
Lots of old friends who have escaped up north were in the audience - hooray; and of course many local people too.
Ilkley is clearly a place with a great deal going on, lots of choirs, venues & arts are in evidence as you wander the town...
Our audience showed the northern warmth we would expect, and a glorious time was had by all...

Off back to Romania next, but don't forget our London outing with St Edmund's School...
...July 9th, btw...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ilkley and Central London concerts

8th June - Ilkley Playhouse - a great trip to God's own county in early June (hopefully the rain might have stopped by then... Luckily it is as yet not raining today at Headingley, as we try to finish off the New Zealanders!)

9th July - Grosvenor Chapel, central London - an excellent joint concert with the wonderful school:- St Edmund's, Canterbury... some great pieces from our large-scale repertoire will get an outing, as we are joined by the school choir, & vocal group.... marvellous...

Love Makes the World Go Round in 20 parts, anyone?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Horsham Music Circle & two gigs to come

Splendid evening at the Capitol, Horsham, as part of the Horsham music Circle's 71st season - they started (keeping the home front's pecker up, no doubt) in 1942...
Wonderful of course, that they are still going and that we can be a small part of it.

Of course, we were treated very well by the people who run the Music Circle, & lots of food was available for us... & we sold really quite a lot of our new songbooks - which is always good...

Easy trip home on a fast train too - amazing to be home at 11.10 & see the last of Denmark's winning of Eurovision.

A couple of gigs to flag up - should anyone be in the environs...

8th June - Ilkley Playhouse
9th July - Grosvenor Chapel, central London - an excellent joint concert with the wonderful school:- St Edmund's, Canterbury

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cornish Riviera

Delightful trip to Cornwall in the splendid sun (tho' a day earlier we would have been drenched!) to the terrific Fowey Festival  - that's pronounced FOY, for those who do not know)...
When we came here at the end of last year there was torrential rain and land-slips, so the journey took about 10 hours each way; great to see it, and travel to it, in glorious sunshine.
The Festival Village & stage is built (under a marquee, of course) each year on the cricket pitch, just by the excellent Fowey Hall, and the Festival has a wonderful range of music, comedians, author talks & Cornish arts, crafts and... beer!
Hoping that not too many of the audience came a day early for the next night's gig, and had the terrible disappointment of our not being Bond...

Just 18 hours in Cornwall not quite enough...

Next, on to Horsham on Saturday!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Fabulous evening

Truly splendid time in Vercelli; lovely playing form the orchestra, excellent audience... and all was happy...
Indeed, Steve sang Skyfall especially brilliantly too!

Hopefully the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with this delightful NE corner of Italy.

Husband and wife team Guido (Conductor/Director) & Cristina (Manager, & pianist too) were wonderful company and a delight to work with...

On the way home via Turin airport, I had a terrific afternoon in the Turin Egyptian Museum - more antiquities than I could really take in - quite fantastic & spellbinding.  Then the alps which were sitting there gloriously as we approached Turin were in tremendous light as we flew over them home...

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Italian Job

Already having a glorious time in Vercelli - equidistant between Milan and Turin, should you wish to know - and have had a day of rehearsal with the strings of Camerata Ducale under the guidance of Maestro Guido Rimonda.... splendid. 
Today, the sun even came out.
An evening of  many composers including Tallis, Vaughan Williams, Warlock, Schubert, Holst, Walton, Dankworth, Lennon & McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Michel Legrand & Adele... wonderful mix, and very much looking forward to this evening... beautiful concert hall, and a large crowd expected...

Friday, 26 April 2013

Best of British:- from Balmoral to Bonheiden, BE

Our second shownight on the Balmoral (British night) went very well; the crowd suitably up for flag-waving and singalong classics.... and so it continues here in Belgium!
Two nights of Best of British in Bonheiden at the GC 't Blikveld - marvellous... another wonderful theatre in Belgium, great staff, great technicians, great food to eat... & a splendid full audience.

First night has gone off swimmingly - perhaps that adverb is too apropos as yesterday's fantastic midsummer weather has turned to drizzle and rain...

We are staying down the road at Mechelen, at Het Anker Brewery (there are bedrooms too)! I do hope other bookers are reading this & realise what a top idea it is for all our future dates... This place produces the best dark beer in the world... I think I shall have to taste quite a bit of it, just to make sure...

PS: It was good to leave the Balmoral to come home at Gibraltar on St George's Day in the glorious sunshine (with wind!)

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Balmoral cabaret

Our first pair of shows has gone very well; we have lost our anonymity here on the Balmoral, a ship of the Fred Olsen line.
Wonderful hotel at Sharm el Sheikh, and then we boarded for a quick trip up the Red Sea towards the Suez canal, which we traversed in convoy, starting at 5am; two members of TLQ got up to watch this (not me!)...
Singing Caravan in the cabaret has never felt so apropos...
We had an excellent day exploring ancient and modern Alexandria... very enlightening.  We saw where the ancient lighthouse used to be (now the Citadel); did not see the new library... next time! (if only the ancient one had survived...
Lovely size of ship, great staff and an excellent atmosphere, despite these people having been on board for over 100 days already!
Next shows are tomorrow on British night.... altogether now...

Land of Hope and Glory,
Rain stops cricket at Lords,
Red buses and Shakespeare,
John, Paul, Ringo and George,
Tea and Monty Python,
Let's all join the queue,
God knows where we're going,
But we'll muddle through...

© Julian and Maggie Forsyth

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Le Show in Fayance

Fabulous outing for Le Show in Fayance (just a bit west of Nice in the south of France)... despite BA's best/worst efforts.  Clearly bringing my manifestly obviously-labelled bag over to Nice airport was more than they could bear... and having failed thus there was no chance of its seeing France before our show.
Luckily my orange overalls were already in Fayance, but we had to share other costumes... which did rather cut down on costume changes!  So the two-tailed, two-tuxedoed quartet was born...
The good people of Fayance took this in their stride, although it did make Moise (the light guy) laugh!

Suzette Forever had its usual effect & much fun was had... and of course being in France, and under the auspices of Jean-Marie Gardon, there was much excellent food and drink (especially enjoyed the rosé)

(For those who wish to know, my bag is presently labelled online as en route to Nice by Monday am, which is nice, as I have been home for over 24 hours... hopefully on Monday they will see my emails and/or hear my calls suggesting their parentage is in doubt...)

On the flight home, we were joined by England manager, Roy Hodgson.. of course, we all had a long in-depth natter together about Rio!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Funny Side... in Solihull

Another funny night in England... this time in Solihull Arts Complex & with Chris Hatt on the piano...
Middle England needed laughs & we provided them...

Very appreciative audience in a splendid venue... with excellent and tremendously helpful backstage staff - thank you everyone...

They were especially amused by Jake Thackray's nun Sister Josephine... well, let's face it:- habemus Papam just half-an-hour before curtain up...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Funny Side... in Clacton

More mirth in the Princes Theatre, Clacton-on-Sea...
As ever, the Clacton Theatre was full to brimming & everyone to do with the organization was friendly and helpful... even making sure we got the last train home.
Joined last night by Paul Plummer on the piano (who had kindly allowed his one day off in the UK to be spent at the seaside with us!) we had a very fine evening.
They loved it all, from Jake Thackray to Monty Python & Noel Coward to Tim Minchin, via Instant Sunshine and Richard Stilgoe... On the Funny Side of the Street carries on creating jollity.

Excellent to visit such a thriving music society, with full membership and many sponsors...
Long may they continue...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Funny Side... in Wimborne

A splendid evening in Wimborne, Dorset (a stone's throw from the Minster in which I was married!) at the Tivoli Theatre...
Another outing for On the Funny Side of the Street, and much laughter echoed around the place!
An assassin, a spotty adolescent, a convict nun and a cross-dressing lumberjack were all in attendance... and that was just on stage!

More funny travelling to come....!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

B.o.B. at Heusden-Zolder, BE

Another Best of British show in Belgium... more splendid flag-waving (Union Flag that is!) from a European audience... Excellent afternoon show in Heudsen-Zolder in the snow! (Not enough of the white stuff to delay anybody, delightfully).
Joined once more by the glorious Chris Hatt (hotfoot from a week with his family in the sun), it was a very fine B.o.B.... and all had a great time.
...and we even got home that evening despite all the hire car's efforts at windscreen-wiper-failure... Mike was heroic!
Our great friend Gertie had brought a great coach load of schoolchildren from Holland too, which made it even more special:- how lovely!

Now a rash of UK dates with our On the Funny Side of the Street show to look forward to:

Thurs. 28th Feb - Wimborne, Tivoli
Sat. 2nd March - Lytham St Annes, Lowther Pavilion
Mon. 4th March - Clacton, Princes Theatre
Weds. 13th March - Solihull (Arts Complex)
Weds. 10th April - Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn
Sat. 13th April - Radlett (Centre)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fürstenfeldbruck - the early show

Wonderful evening in Fürstenfeldbruck; beautiful place in which to sing, and a splendid cultural palace, as one so often finds in Germany... full of art and music-making... this small town has an orchestra and two choirs!
We were not in the exquisite church (tho' this is enormous and perishing cold!)... tho' we were in a very great hall for singing...

Here is the rest of the complex...

We hear it was built in guilt in the mid-13th century, after Louis II, Duke of Bavaria had put his wife (Maria of Brabant * ) to death for infidelity (The Pope forced him to build), but then subsequently realised he'd been a tad hasty... who'd be a Royal woman (in former times)!?

But back to the concert, we were very pleased with it; a full crowd, in rapt silence - one lady told us she had been in heaven for the last two hours! Marvellous!
We provided a concert of Franco-Flemish, Italian and English music 1450-1650... including, Josquin, Byrd, Gibbons, Monteverdi, Arcadelt, Jannequin, Weelkes, Morley, Batten, Robert Stone,Thoineau Arbeau, John Bennet, Palestrina, Henry VIII himself & that great stalwart of composition... Anon.... as part of the Fürstenfeldbruck Alte Musik sequence.
We ended with Oranges and Lemons as from our new Songbook - the Great British a cappella Songbook... (It is in the correct period, even if the arrangement ain't).

This complex does also house the Police University, which was slightly ironic... as when we arrived the door was open to our concert hall, with alarms blaring away... with no-one coming to help, and no problem in sight!

(* her descendants, of course, turned to the left & were very successful in car manufacture in the mid-20th century in Eastern Europe.)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

B.o.B. DE tour #2

Next two stops on the B.o.B. tour... TuttlingenWangen, marvellous times...
Once again joined by pianist extraordinaire, Paul Plummer...
Lots of old friends (some from Switzerland - which is just up the road!) and new, at two places we have visited on many occasions over the last few years.
In Wangen we had the great pleasure of singing in the very old (14th Century, I think) Weberzunfthaus - wonderful; and full of people it was... great to catch up with all after the concert in the splendid café.

Coming up tomorrow - at last the early music show in Fürstenfeldbruck, near Munich...
O Sing Joyfully (1450-1650) - a celebration of English, Franco-Flemish & Italian Renaissance music.
Cantabile & other animals: Byrd, Gibbons, Bat(ten) *

* this joke has run out of steam, please stop, Ed.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

B.o.B. tour #1

First two dates of the B.o.B. * tour are done!
Siegen & Blieskastel... We have been to both before (Blieskastel only last year); good to meet old friends & talking of which, we are being accompanied by another old friend, Paul Plummer...

Splendid audiences, and as ever, a very knowledgeable German crowd who know and love their vocal music... and are delighted to join in with our Land of Hope and Glory at the end... including waving their Union Flags (as printed on the back of our programmes):- wonderful scenes!

Two more dates to go, and then an a cappella early music concert at the weekend...

* B.o.B. = Best of British (our programme for Germany and Belgium).

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Carnival time!

Well, here it is; in time for Rio & Mardi Gras all over the world (is the plural Mardis Gras?)

Manhã de Carnival - featuring the vocal beauty of Richard Bryan... with us accompanying a cappella style...
Wonderful song by Luiz Bonfá & Antônio Maria from the classic 1959 film... Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus).

Buy online here


Friday, 25 January 2013

City of London concert

Fantastic concert at the venerable Bishopsgate Institute - a brilliant concert hall (it has just had a 7-figure refurbishment - cool!), and a great history... opened in 1895 by then Liberal PM Lord Rosebery, as a multi-purpose hall & library...

City Music Society is also a wonderful institution, providing concerts in the city on a Tuesday lunchtime all year round... terrific.

A great audience turned up, and I suspect did more laughing than is usual in this concert series!  Tho' naturally we did sing much serious music first...
Splendidly, Carole came in her busy lunchtime and EPAM were very well represented too - great to see many friendly faces...

The theme of the last blog continued, as I bumped into Peter Davison (Doctor Who 5) at Liverpool Street Station...
...and now Andy Murray is in the Australian final - hoorah!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Olonne-sur-mer, FR

Well, we did , what we call, 'Le Show' -altho' posters call it «Suzette Forever» - after a gap of quite a few months... & we remembered all the moves (including quick changes) and the myriads of french text...
...and we were in Olonne-sur-mer, which with fantastic logic is just a bit further away from the sea than Sables d'Olonne.

Snow beset our Paris debut of Le Show a few years back (when it was so heavy on both sides of La Manche that only I managed to catch the correct Eurostar) - this time it just meant that all Eurostars went v.slow, so we felt as if we were on trains on Saturday and Monday all day!

On the way to the coast, we stayed on Saturday, at our French agent's (Bertrand Henrion) place & were delighted to see his wife, and meet their wonderful little boy... who decided that our breakfast was best accompanied by his doing a Tour de table (many, many laps) in the kitchen on his wee tricycle... what a sweetheart...
...then we rushed off, as the show was in the afternoon...
As ever, in France, everything seemed to revolve around when we would eat!  ...and what is wrong with that!

For those who have yet to see this thing (we have another one in April!), we have lots of costumes (I have a lovely pair of orange overalls, as created by our Swiss friend, Silvan), swings to swing on, more props than usual and even (dare I mention it!)... ACTING! Devised by French thespian and all-round intellectual, Hubert Drac - it is a whirlwind of a thing that lasts about 85 minutes...
...and it was splendid... apart from the travelling which did rather drag on....

Monday, 14 January 2013

De Haan, BE

An amazing Sunday for us!
Depending on which of us you talk of, we were out of our houses for 11 to 13 hours and out of the country for about 8 hours.... the chunnel (and Steve driving) got us To the Belgian coast and back for a New year's concert at Wielingen, De Haan ...
With the hall packed to the rafters of people eating and drinking, and with our ever-busy Belgian agent, Thomas Van der Spiegel on hand once more to look after us, we had a lovely afternoon on the coast... even tho' the temperature was 0°.
...but we were mostly quite amazed that we could do all this so quickly...& in just half-a-day!

btw, our last journey was enlivened by seeing Ben Bradshaw MP at Heathrow & Mark Urban (BBC reporter) at Hamburg airport... no such touches of fame this trip!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Wilhelmshaven, DE

Wonderful to start the 16th a cappella festival here - lots of wonderful groups to follow, including old friends Die Medlz and The Magnets, as well as The Wise Guys (DE) and Voice Male (BE)... Excellent festival and excellent brimming full church to see us perform two gigs in one!  As we were in a church, in the first half, we performed lots of early tunes & church music, from Hildegard of Bingen to recently-deceased Richard Rodney Bennett.... then in the second we did a wee synthesis of our Best of British programme... exhausting to do two shows in one... but the full crowd made it all worthwhile...
Not many shows start with Hildegard of Bingen, Byrd & Arcadelt and end with Yesterday and The Lambeth Walk backwards!

Lots of joy for the rest of the Festival...

...and we're off to the snowy wastes of Belgium on Sunday - wish us luck!!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Esch, Lux - New Year Concert

Delightful late afternoon of New Year's celebration in Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg); thank you to Charles, Marc and the rest of the team who invited us & looked after us so well.
We did our conventional mix of the silly and the serious - the audience liked our Beatles-on-a-train & our Bee Gees 'tribute'!
But yes, we did some Strauss! (Blue Danube & Radetsky) & we were very happy to be joined by our old friend Paul Plummer at the piano.  He was not let down by the European train system...
... sadly another old friend Gertie was let down by her (only a few months old) car, which failed to get her to Luxembourg... except in time to hear the last few hand claps.  Some might say she drew the longest straw by sampling the after-show champagne reception without having had to suffer a single note of music!
Sold lots of our CDs and our new songbook - hooray!
Splendid hotel too; and a great way to celebrate the birth of 2013...

We'll talk to you throughout the year!