Beat the January Blues concert. January 2023

Our first Leigh Orpheus concert at Holy Trinity after many years away. As we said afterwards on our Leigh Orpheus Facebook page “We beat the January Blues and warmed their souls! The generous applause from our audience at Holy Trinity Church Rayleigh confirmed their appreciation of the range of music we sang. From the sensitive to the uplifting, from the three soloists to the full choir, from threatening pirates to Queen arm-waving, we were all the champions! Thank you to a great audience. And well done to the Leigh Orpheus”. Given the cold it was great that so many people came along. Conversations during the interval indicated that they were pleased they had.

To help with the warming of the audience the first set started with the popular ‘African Prayer’, also known as the South African National Anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica, continued the African theme with ‘Siyahamba’ and then moved on to the more delicate ‘Softly as I leave You’. A pace change next to finish this first set with ‘Every Time I feel the Spirit’. Some feet-tapping and head-nodding was going on.

The Leigh Orpheus benefits by having a number of members prepared to sing solos.

First of three tonight was Harry Rowson who charmed the audience with his impressive bass voice.

Then onto the Leigh Orpheus’s second set. ‘Speed Your Journey’, ‘Unchained Melody’ conducted by Deputy MD Dave Smith, ‘You Raise Me Up’ and, sung in flawless Welsh, ‘Gwahoddiad’, a piece very dear to the choir and sung at moments of significance to the Leigh Orpheus.

Next, in readiness for a Leigh Orpheus set with a common theme of boats and the sea, Ron Circus sang the solo ‘Sea Fever’ for which he’d won an award at the Southend Music Festival.

Then onto those sea songs. ‘With Cat Like Tread’ from the operetta Pirates of Penzance, a massive change of mood to the a cappella ‘Calm is the Sea’ and then when Musical Director Janet Walker turned back from talking to the audience she faced marauding pirates ready to sing ‘Song of the Jolly Roger’!

The interval then offered the opportunity for men in the audience to follow up the recruitment initiative Chairman Sam Coley had spoken about during the first half of the concert. The Leigh Orpheus always welcomes interest from men who might like to experience singing in a male choir and an initiative starting on 3rd February, described on our Join Us page gives just that opportunity.

Resuming after the break, it was the fourteen-and-a-half-minute challenge of a ‘Back to the 60s’ medley. Many of the pieces were recognised, and even sung by some in the audience. Those feeling perhaps a little chilly due to the temperature in the church warmed themselves as they clapped along to ‘Da Do Ron Ron’.

Next, another solo, this time from Jim Ryan, another Southend Music Festival winner, who sang ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’ with music written by Benjamin Britten.

Then the final set, starting with ‘American Trilogy’, a trio of three popular songs and an opportunity for Accompanist Kay Duell to show her talents. Deputy MD Dave Smith was then back to conduct ‘Rhythm of Life.’ allowing MD Janet Walker to play the accompaniment four-handed with Kay, and for Dave to test the speed at which Leigh Orpheus members could sing this piece! Then, to end the evening, Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ with the audience enthusiastically joining in with the traditional arm waving. And finally off home with a song in our hearts and a spring in our step.

Following the concert their was great feedback on Facebook, including: “We really enjoyed the concert despite the cold church. Thanks to everyone,” and “Was wonderful despite the very cold church. Well done it was lovely.”