Thursday, 24 December 2015

Last concert of 2015

Another special evening, this time at Kloster Eberbach at Eltville... and our last of 2015 (tho' we do have gigs on the 1st and the 2nd of January back in Germany!)

Kloster Eberbach is a fantastic monastery complex where they filmed The Name of the Rose with Sean Connery.

Here as the sun goes down:

...and later!

A beautiful place in which to sing, and a marvellous crowd were there to be very festive and enthusiastic!  Such a splendid way to end our concert year.

Just like Kings College just a few moments ago, we sang some David Willcocks (his delightful Infant Holy, Infant Lowly arrangement); and many other glories...
The audience also loved our singing Wenn ich vergnĆ¼gt bin muss ich singen... which was a relief, as it is such a tongue-twister.
They adored Gaudete! from the Middle Ages as much as White Christmas from the 1950s...

A total pleasure, rounded off with an excellent meal, accompanied by the tremendous Kloster-beer before our early (slightly blurred) flight back home...

So here we are, seasonal jollity awaits....
Happy Christmas and hope to see you in a prosperous and fine 2016.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Brilliant Belgium Noel



Two splendid concerts in Belgium, two different programmes too!
Both accompanied by the incomparable Chris Hatt... (who also brought his adorable family over for the trip!)

Showtime at Overijse
Christmas at Oud-Turnhout

Here we all are, after both were done (photo taken by Sian Hatt!)

So it was songs from the shows and film firstly; Skyfall, Kiss from a Rose, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, He's a Tramp, Laurel & Hardy, Guys & Dolls medley, Over the Rainbow & Happy... to name but a few!
Wonderful it was to do a full programme of theatre/film music.
There are more Showtime performances in the Spring in Holland and Belgium... have a look at our schedule!

As this concert was at 2PM, we had plenty of free time to get to the next place... & stayed at Turnhout (Christmas concert in a church in the Oud bit!)...
I did a great deal of Christmas shopping there!

AND, they had a real ass in the Nativity at the town square... tho' it looks blurred below:

But the concert was a pure delight - Christmas concerts so often are - but the church acoustics, and the clearly-joyful crowd made it all feel very special indeed...
We went of course from the sublime (Wexford Carol) to the ridiculous (See Amid... accompanied by attention-seeking pianist:- very funny!); from Elizabethan England to California via The Comedian Harmonists!
...and the packed church also was full of percussionists, as the Sleigh Bell (Keys) players were all terrific... and did excellent horse impressions in Sleigh Ride!
Chris Hatt's young family were terrifically amused to see Daddy wearing the Turkey carcass hat.... he does look quite spiffing thus!

It was great to see our Dutch friends Gertie & 'Riet too - a bonus!

Thank you, as ever, Thomas (& his sister) and Eurotheater for all your hard work...   

Here's a quick photo of the excellently-lit church just by our hotel... this angle just felt right somehow!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Massive Christmas gala for Bloodwise

Wonderful evening at the Royal Albert Hall - Christmas with the Stars in aid of Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research).

RAH looking great in the December sun!

Such fun to sing with Frank Renton and the excellent band once more... and to sing to a full house along with so many great people...

with Lee

Lee Mead gave wonderful renditions of Feeling Good & Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Margaret Keys sang the beautiful O Holy Night, Tom Lister sang I'll be Home for Christmas & the lovely Anne Reid sang The Christmas Song.

Along with Disney Voices (a new choir of Disney employees) and the girls choir from Sydenham High (conductor Caroline Lenton-Ward), we sang in Patrick Doyle's exciting anthem Ring Out the Bells, written especially for Bloodwise.

with Danny

Other singers/speakers/readers included:
Danny John Jules, X factor's Che Chesterman & Nick Grimshaw, Sonna Rele, Arlene Phillips, John Michie, John Sergeant & Debra Stephenson who introduced us...(using many, many different voices!)...

It was great to contribute Strangers in the Night & A Festival of Carols in Two Minutes; and later to join with the band for Sleigh Ride... the audience were magnificent on their keys-jingle-bells & with their loud neigh at the end!

An exhilarating, life-enhancing evening full of joy; promoting and advancing such a good cause...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

an evening of Champs Hill cheer

Joyful evening in aid of the excellent Sussex Snowdrop Trust at Champs Hill...

This being the home of, verily, Champs Hill Records... we were in the very room where we recorded Songs of Love and War...
So this room which is attached to David and Mary Bowerman's lovely home is a recording studio, a concert hall and indeed an art gallery!
Here we are rehearsing... (amidst the art):-

You probably cannot recognise Chris Hatt at the piano, as he has lost loads of weight (not that this was a desperate need), and now looks like a teenager again!
His very svelteness puts us to shame (well, speaking on behalf of the male department of the group... well, perhaps, just myself!)

The audience were warm and splendid from the very start; Diana Levantine, Chairman & co-founder of the charity made sure that everyone was sure that this was to be a happy evening.... and so it was!

We performed some Christmas, some of our film/musical show, some classical music and a fair sprinkling of silliness...
Good to sing the Pavane - Belle qui tiens ma vie captive dans tes yeux by Thoinot Arbeau in the same place we recorded it for the album...
We are singing Infant Holy, Infant Lowly this Christmas as a tribute to the wonderful talents of Sir David Willcocks, who died recently after such a glittering career. Its simple beauty has such a great effect.
Excellent to once again have Chris Hatt around, so we could do some great piano numbers... Skyfall, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Laurel and Hardy (Way Out West songs and dance), He's a Tramp and White Christmas (the full Bing, courtesy of Mike - other browsers are available)... 
Also we gave our Sleigh Ride, with the crowd supplying both jingle bells (using car keys for the most part) and the horses' neighs!

The audience appeared mesmerised by the end of the evening... and Chris Hatt's tour-de-force accompaniment to See Amid the Winter's Snow (arranged gloriously by Jonathan Rathbone) was a great part of that!
Lovely to meet/see everyone afterwards... including Chris (O'Gorman this time)'s parents.

Thank you to Diana, David and Mary for making this whole experience such fun!
....and royally entertaining us too!

The guy below is in the garden... he commemorates the huge storm of 1987 !

Marvellous also to see this great George Rowlett painting with such thick daubing of the Thames at Greenwich...

Next stop, the Royal Albert Hall, for a gala evening - Christmas with the Stars - in aid of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Grand Night in Grantham

Excellent evening with the Grantham Music Society at Guildhall Arts Centre;

Amazingly the building kept changing colour - here's one:

...and another (I won't show you the full rainbow!):

...and all this under the watchful eye of local hero, Sir Isaac Newton!

The audience came with us on our conventional journey from Henry VIII to Richard Rodney Bennett, from Bach to the Beatles, and of course there was Christmas too!

There was a great excitement before the concert when Sarah-Ann locked herself in her dressing room (not incompetance:- it has a dodgy lock); luckily technician Laura was on hand to deal with this... altho' it did take about 10 minutes!
...but she was .... free at last! 

This is our third concert for the Society & it was as splendid as ever... lovely receptive audience... and excellent to sing in the Guildhall Arts Centre for the first time.
Thanks to Bob and Maryan for looking after us so well...

We also got to serenade Sarah-Ann's parents... a joy!

It was possible to get home on the same day by train, so brilliance all round.
A super day in Grantham!

Off to Champs Hill, near Pulborough, where we recorded our last album, Songs of Love and War, for a charity evening on Friday...