These Archive Pages are where you will find links to the various Leigh Orpheus archives that have been created over the years. There are several pages of them For earlier archives than 2021 use the 'Historic Archives' button at the bottom of this page.
Contributions from members are very welcome. If you have something relevant - especially pictures of the choir - please let us know.
Please note that descriptions and opinions stated on our Archive pages are personal comments and should not be interpreted as expressing official LOMVC opinions or positions. Videos on these Archive pages are for Leigh Orpheus members' enjoyment only. They should not be copied or shared or in any way made public.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
The Leigh Orpheus Christmas Concert. Salvation Army Temple, 2nd December 2023
We often ‘share’ our Christmas Concert with other choirs, including Jan’s Boys’ choir. There are a couple of advantages in doing so: Leigh Orpheus only needs to learn material for half of the concert and we have twice the number of people promoting the concert and buying tickets.
But this year we decided to go it alone. That the concert would be themed as a ‘traditional’ Christmas Concert with solos and readings and congregational carols. Which meant that we still only needed half a concert’s worth of material. But most of that would be pieces that we only bring out at Christmas and the decision was taken that we would use folders and be able to refer to the music as we sang. That, of course, led to the ‘heads in folders, not looking at Jan’ syndrome. We rehearsed for a few Fridays. Most pieces came together fairly well. One or two remained a mystery to some sections – ‘A Child is Born in Bethlehem’ being one of them. Getting those ‘Alleluias’ in the right place at the right time was tricky.
Neil wanted some formal pictures of the choir, in uniform, for publicity. So we arrived on the Saturday of the concert and dutifully got in our places ready for our pictures to be taken. Neil said we looked good. But he was only looking at the small screen on his camera. The full size pics turned out to be of limited use. One was fairly ok, but possibly demonstrating that, however much we try to be uniform, there are those who just won’t be.
As this was a more formal concert than usual our Concert Manager wanted us to arrive on stage formally. Some practice was needed. We were drilled in how to get in the right order off stage so that we arrived on stage in the right order. A couple of goes and we got it right in practice.
Positioning and Sound check over, we had time to relax, the doors were opened and our audience surged in. It’s always a bit of a gamble at the SA Temple (not that gambling is allowed) to know how many seats to provide and whether or not to open the dividing wall to give more space (but spread the audience out more and have lots of gaps if the 50 extra seats in there aren’t needed). We chose not to open the dividing wall. Our lovely Front of House Team got it just right. All of the intended seats were filled. Most of the ‘use them only if we need to’ seats were filled. No one was turned away. We’d invited a whole host of local dignitaries and politicians. Most were busy elsewhere but Rebecca Harris, MP for Castle Point, turned up and was generous in her comments about us.
The time to start approached. We lined up in our two rows, headed by two choir members who really got the hang of how it was meant to work. And we were off to our places on stage. What do you know?! It worked!
In a brief welcome Neil managed to mix up the ‘welcoming of everyone including the MP’ with the ‘boring bit about toilets and fire escapes’ but, unbored, Rebecca Harris magnanimously smiled throughout.
Then we were off with the programme which the audience could see on screen:
We all sang ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. We had the words in hard copy, the audience sang from the words on the screen above and behind us. It was a shame we couldn’t watch the seamless transitioning of the words of one verse to the words of the next. It was a joy to behold for those who could behold it (and wrongly attributed to Les’s skills!).
Following that first carol Mike Elmes was to do the Advent reading. He paused for just a millisecond too long before standing to walk forward and, enthusiastic to get going, Jan had us on our feet and singing ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’. Alistair and Mac sang solo verses and we joined in the chorus.
After that a bit of fine-tuning and Mike told of the coming of Christ.
(sorry about the pic, Mike – the official photographer was dealing with other issues!)
Then angels watched over us as we sang our next piece after which Jim came forward to delight us with an extended introduction to his piece and, eventually, his singing of the Wexford Carol.
By now we’d settled down and Mike Hurst came forward to read about the Birth of Christ. We liked his delivery, accentuating the story that was being told.
Then it was a run of four pieces for us
We started this set with ‘Away in a Manger’. Pretty straightforward
Next ‘Zum Sanctus’. Some watched Jan and remembered to increase the volume as we went through the Heiligs. Others just sang in their finest German
Then ‘A Child is Born in Bethlehem’. It’s rumoured that many of the ‘Alleluia’s were the right notes in the right order
A finally, ‘Torches’ which we seem to be able to do without much rehearsal. Maybe because it was written for Children (or so it is reported by a member of the T1s!).
Back to congregational carols. The next one being ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. Even the audience responded to the ‘how silently’ verse 2.
In next to no time it seemed we’d come to the end of the first half. The audience were given the good news that we would be giving them free refreshments and the bad news that the only hot drink was non-alcoholic punch (which actually morphed into non-alcoholic blackcurrant juice when the original ran out – but could anyone else tell?). And the further bad news that we wanted donations for the refreshments. Some put in notes, some opted not to put in anything.
Because we’d done so well marching in for Part 1 we were allowed to take our choir seats informally for Part 2.
Off we all went with the congregational carol ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night’. None of us resorted to that naughty ‘While Shepherds Washed Their Socks by Night’ version. (‘all seated round the tub’, etc)
Then up popped Alistair. Poor chap. It had been touch and go if his voice was going to be ok for him to sing a solo verse earlier in the first half. During the interval he’d had a nosebleed and things were now on a knife edge as to whether he could read about the shepherds visiting. But, consummate professional (some have used other words!), he delivered. (note the halo above Alistair's head!)
Next, our set of three pieces.
‘The First Noel/Pachelbel’. Well we possibly got our ‘Noels’ in better in this one than we got our ‘Allelujias’ in earlier.
Next, ‘O Men from the Fields’. No excuse for not getting this one right as it’s in unison. It went down well – possibly our best piece of the evening. And of course, enhanced by Graham Halsey singing the solo which had improved each time he’d sung it (move over, Dave!)
‘O Holy Night’ to finish this set. Many of us managed to move on to verse 2 successfully.
Next it was another reading. Well at least we got to sit down. Eric read about the Wise Men. Well he would, he was surrounded by them.
Having heard about the three kings we then sung about them in the congregational carol that followed.
The next piece, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ was originally to have been sung by Harry. But he was indisposed. With remarkable bravery George stepped in, almost at the last minute, to read the piece. Good work, George.
Time for our last set. Firstly ‘Amen’. This has been in our repertoire for some time and it wasn’t too difficult to roll out tonight. We enlisted help from the audience, Jan conducted them and they enjoyed it. Looks like Jan was enjoying bringing both us and the audience off at the same time!
Then our final choir-solo piece, more cannons, ‘Glory to Thee My God this Night’. A good way to finish our own pieces, especially pleading for a safe and secure night’s rest.
Jan then announced that the more formal, traditional part of the concert was over and that Ron would move us into the next section singing a piece that Ron announced he had only recently learned – ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’.
That got us in the festive mood and full of goodwill to all men (and women). Sam thanked everyone who had been involved in the concert, its organisation and its delivery.
Finally the Christmas Sing-A-Long. We Walked in a Winter Wonderland, we Jingled our Bells, we looked forward to Santa Claus Coming to Town and we Dreamt of a White Christmas – which wasn’t difficult on the bitterly cold day it had been.
Some very nice comments on our Facebook page, including the very appropriate comment from one of our loyal supporters “A great start to the Christmas season. Thank you to all at LOMVC. You warmed us up on a very cold night”
A Joint Autumn Concert with the Swift Singers. Holy Trinity Church, South Woodham Ferrers. 28th October 2023.
This concert was to be our third Joint Concert in October 2023! On 7th October we went to Chelmsford to perform with the Chelmsford Male Voice Choir. On 14th October we went along the road to Leigh on Sea to perform in a concert which included the Leigh Salvation Army Band. For this concert we crossed the River Crouch to get to Holy Trinity Church, South Woodham Ferrers. There were some challenges! A number of members couldn’t be there, it was a pretty wet day and there was talk of parking restrictions that if we didn’t observe would cost us £85 fines.
The Swift Singers were the hosts and we were the Special Guests.
Most of us arrived on time and dropped our stuff off in the our Green Room – the assembly hall of the Catholic Primary School which directly adjoins the church on one side with the Anglican Primary School directly linked on the other side of the church. We were soon positioned behind the Swift Singing Ladies to rehearse the two joint pieces, conducted by the Swift Singers MD, Tim Rhys-Morgan. ‘You Raise Me Up’ went well, with a couple of minor adaptations to ensure that we all knew where we needed to come in. We were to sing the first verse and the Swifts the second. Possibly more risky was the second half joint piece – a quodlibet, which of course we all knew meant a piece where two well-known pieces are joined together; these were two quite different pieces. ‘I Believe’ made famous by Frankie Lane in 1953 and ‘Ave Maria’ written by Franz Schubert in 1825. We rehearsed it and it worked quite well, in no small measure because although Tim was conducting, so was Jan and we had our eyes on her as well as the music in our folders.
Then on to our own rehearsal. It went smoothly although the quality of sound from their keyboard wasn’t to the standard we are used to with our own kit.
We practiced getting on and off stage so that we were in the correct formation, and ensuring that we were seated in our ‘waiting to perform’ seats so that our entrance went smoothly - and to Neil’s delight it worked and we looked good as we went on and off (well, apart from the very end). Here we are in our ‘waiting to perform’ seats.
Then some time off to relax, eat and chat. Some spent their time in our Green Room, some chatted with their guests. A sign asked us not to place anything on the altar which has been moved off the stage into our Green Room. Someone either didn't see the sign or didn't care and placed their folder on the altar. As far as we know there was no bolt of lightening, but we won't know until the next rehearsal if there was plague or pestilence wrought on the sinner!
At 7.20 pm we lined up and eventually walked in to take our seats. It worked well.
At 7.30 pm the concert started.
The Swifts started with ‘Why We Sing’ which many of us recognised because we’ve sung it with the Stevenage Ladies. Then ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, a piece written by singer-songwriter Steve Perry and performed by him in 1981.
Next, a piece we all knew, Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ from the musical ‘The Lion King’. They finished their first set singing ‘Only You’, another 1980s piece.
Time for us to do our thing. We left our seats to take the long route round to the stage as the ladies left the stage to take the short walk back to our seats. It worked, even if the audience did undertake some marathon ‘welcoming’ clapping.
We kicked off with ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’. Just when the audience thought we were coming to the end we split Tenor1s&Tenor2s and Baritones&Basses and went round again. They seemed to like it. Next we shared the love with two love songs: ‘Love is all Around’ and ‘This Nearly was Mine’. Some swayed to the waltz rhythm, some perfected their lipreading skills watching Jan.
Next it was a demonstration of how Estuary English might be our native language but we can move round the world. First, mainly in Zulu, ‘Siyahambe’ where, if we were an army marching in the light of God, we moved closer and further away a few times before heading off into the distance. You could have heard a pin drop. If we are on secure territory with ‘Siyahambe’ so too were we with ‘Gwahoddiad’. As usual our Welsh was perfect and we were just about in tune each time the keyboard came back in. Generous applause suggested they liked it. Jan seemed pleased!
Then the ladies came back on (we could have taught them a few things about coming onto a stage!) to join us in singing ‘You Raise Me Up’ together with Kay accompanying and Liszi turning the pages.
Again, the audience loved it.
It was time for the interval. The ladies set an example by making a bolt for the Anglican School school hall where the refreshments were, so we followed. The audience didn’t object meaning that we got to the biscuits first. Raffle tickets were sold. Old friendships were rekindled. A pleasant break.
We lined up well in our Green Room and made a superb job of walking to the stage and forming in lines to start the second half of the concert.
‘Wellerman’, the sea shanty, was first. As usual Dave sang the solo verses and we foot-stamped in time during the last chorus.
The sea theme was maintained, but in a very different style, in our next piece , ‘Pokarekare Ana’. Maybe our Māori was a bit rusty but Jan mouthed the words and we sang along pretending we knew exactly what we were singing. Indeed, many of us did when the lower sections sang the English part!
A Freddie Mercury/Queen theme had been introduced to this concert and we kicked it off with our next two pieces. Firstly ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ which we were giving it’s first outing (for the Leigh Orpheus, Freddie had done it many times). Not only did we finger-click and knee-slap pretty well, we were pretty confident with the words and our parts. Jan looked pleased. Having been warmed up by a bit of clapping the audience were ready for more Queen. This time ‘We Are the Champions of the World’. Jan had warned them that there would be some arm-waving, the Swift ladies couldn’t hold themselves back, and soon after we started singing they were in action. No lighters, but there were maybe one or two phone torches being waved. We dutifully joined Jan in arm-waving at the correct point and waved away with most of the Leigh Orpheus and some of the audience moving in sync.
Then it was back to the seats once the ladies had vacated them. Maybe it was because the seats were in formal rows that it worked so much better than when we have church pews to return to sit in?
The ladies continued the Queen Theme with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Very nice but some of us thought that we do it better. Rumour has it that BoRhap could be a joint piece at a future concert with the Swifts. Well why not?! In fact, perhaps each choir could put forward a soloist and they could do ‘Barcelona’. OK, maybe not.
In contrast to their BoRhap came ‘When I am Silent’, then Ben E King’s ‘Stand by Me’, ‘ The Lily and the Rose’ (which they obeyed their MD by agreeing that they now loved it) and Carly Simon’s ‘Let the River Run’. It was great to be able to sit and be entertained by another amateur choir doing their best to perform to the highest standard they could.
Then we were all on again. Another smart entrance on stage, a bit of shuffling about to fit everyone from both choirs in, two conductors in position, and we started the ‘I Believe/Ave Maria Quodlibet’. The Swifts watched Tim, their MD. We watched Jan and Jan watched Tim. We sang ‘I Believe’ as well as we’ve ever done.
And the audience loved it. Many stood in appreciation. To see and hear a video recorded by a member of the audience click on the link below (usual Ts & Cs about not sharing):
And just as we thought it was all over, there was a request for us to do it again. And we did! More applause and one more person standing.
We could now leave, safe in the knowledge that we’d provided a good evening’s entertainment and that if we do it again on home soil it will promise to be another good concert.
Some collected their things and left. Several of us stayed to help take down the stage and re-arrange the church. We are generally appreciated for the help we give on such occasions and we try to do what is required However, we decided, when it was nearly done, that when we were being given orders that wasn’t what we were there for and it was time for us to go!
It had been another great Joint Concert. An email from the Swifts says:
Just wanted to say what a wonderful evening we all had last night, the Concert was extremely well received, and I think both choirs complimented one another.
Please give our best wishes to all the men, and thank Janet and Kay, on our behalf, I hope we can have a repeat performance in the not too distant future.
Photo Credits: Bob Owen. Neil
The Leigh Orpheus Singing Workshop. Saturday, 14th October 2023
As part of our current recruitment initiatives we planned a Singing Workshop, open to all of our Leigh Orpheus members, as well as any other men who might be interested. It would be good for us, as well as possibly attracting new members. As it turned out, the first was certainly true (the second less so!)
We wanted something different, our aim being to enjoy a morning singing together. The facilitator of the workshop was Chris Pethers, Assistant Director of the London Gay Men’s Chorus, a men’s singing group with over 200 members performing on stage at their high-profile gigs at large venues.
Here’s the agreed Plan for the session:
10:00 Introduction and Warm Up
10:30 Session 1: Singing is Fun!
11:10 Break with Refreshments
11:35 Session 2: Close Harmony
12:35 Comfort Break
12:45 Session 3: Performing a song
13:45 Recap, questions/discussion
14.00 Buffet Lunch
Chris started with Warm Ups – which he regards as vital if we are to get our voices ready to sing. Like many physical activities best performance can’t be achieved, and damage can be done, if there is insufficient Warming Up. We did loads of exercises some of which included rhythm and dynamics. We are all pretty good at ‘1, 121, 12321, 1234321 (etc)’ although clapping on ‘1’ challenged some of us a bit.
We moved on to have fun singing! Simple rounds and some rhythm exercises. Within a few minutes three pieces, based on the ‘four basic chords’ idea, were being confidently sung in harmony! And who would have though that blokes in their 80s would be beatboxing!
A break, during which Pam and Sue treated us to drinks and nice biscuits. Smashing.
Next, we were learning a new piece. Chris bobbed and tapped and conducted from the front, willing us to give our best. And we did! Within a short while we were singing one of Chris’s own arrangements of Jerome Kern’s ‘The Way You Look Tonight’. And he made us mix up in parts! Who would have thought that singing alongside another part could be such fun?! It was actually helpful hearing one’s own part alongside a different part!
We worked hard and all that moving around and standing up meant that some were ready for the next Comfort Break.
Then it was the final session – Performance. And what do you know, we learned a further new piece! Another of Chris’s arrangements (he’s a talented chap). Billy Joel’s ‘The Longest Time’. Another opportunity to get all mixed up and it wasn’t long before one half of us was performing to the other, and vice versa. There was even some move to the groove!
Thankfully Chris helped us by making it very clear whether we were starting at ‘A’ or ‘B’ after each chorus. And we got it right! The Tenor 2’s had the tune and were at the centre of this piece – and what a brilliant job they made of it! The backing singers were pretty good too!
You can see and hear us singing both pieces in this excellent YouTube video, expertly crafted by Ron Circus, (thanks, Ron) by clicking on the link below. Probably best viewed 'full screen'!
(as usual, these recordings are for Leigh Orpheus eyes only)
Finally, Chris gave us some tips on performing, engaging with our audience and so on. Then, in case anyone was interested, a plug for a London Gay Men’s Chorus show at the Cadogan Hall on 25th November and being hosted by Sandi Tocsvic. (click here for details) It’s fair to say that there was a lot of interest and there’s talk of getting a group together to go to the matinee. Six seats for the price of 5 should help!
Then a perfect end to the session with a lovely buffet lunch. Pam and Sue provided a lovely spread!!
And what do you know?! An even more perfect end to the session with loads of enthusiastic Leigh Orpheus members willingly getting the furniture in the Salvation Army Temple back to the way it was before we started.
Thanks to everyone (and especially Chris) for a brilliant session!
The Leigh on Sea Salvation Army 121st Anniversary Concert. Saturday, 7th October 2023.
We were asked to perform in a joint concert with the Leigh Salvation Army Band to help them celebrate their 121st Anniversary Weekend. An opportunity to perform locally, but in a different venue to our home venue. So, we went for it.
Like many other serious music groups in the area, the Leigh Orpheus publicises its performances on the local Anti Clash Calendar. Some groups don't, and it was disappointing to find that another local choir had arranged a concert just down the road at the Leigh Community Centre. Meaning that some of our Leigh Orpheus members were missing, that audiences for both would potentially be reduced, and that there would be pressure on car parking.
It’s probably fair to say that it turned out not to be what many of us were expecting! For starters, although we’d been asked to perform alongside the Leigh on Sea Salvation Army Band the concert wasn’t at the Leigh on Sea Salvation Army. It was at the Leigh Wesley Baptist Church up the road. And it wasn’t actually with the Leigh Salvation Army Band. They were joined by the Southend Salvation Army Band and we know that at least one of the players was from Hadleigh Temple. We’d been invited to join them in a Concert. But it turned out to be much more ‘church service’ than we’d expected! Prayers, readings and something very much like a sermon made it much less ‘concerty’ than we are used to.
Nevertheless, all had been put in place and we were committed to it. As usual, we rehearsed, particularly concentrating on ‘Praise My Soul’ which was to be our opening piece.
There was less time than we would often have to rehearse and sound-check at the church. And their electric piano was judged to be not up to the quality we needed. Thankfully, our own gear had been brought from our storage unit at Safestore and helpfully those who transport it and know how to set the gear up arrived early enough that it was ready for us.
Here we are rehearsing ‘You Raise Me Up’
Here we are posing after the sound check! Nice to get a pic with Jan and Kay in it.
But what of the ‘concert’ you say?!
Here’s the programme. We never quite understood why each time we performed we had to reduce the number of pieces by one! (four, then three, then two)
For a second concert running our ‘march in’ for the first half was very good with everyone knowing who was in front and behind them and everyone (well, nearly) getting to their correct seat straight away.
Our first ‘sing’ was along with the audience (congregation?!) singing a hymn. Well, it was written by Wesley and we were in his church. Some of us knew it without needing the words!
Then, after a prayer, ‘Praise My Soul’ seemed good as an opener for the Leigh Orpheus, although as they are probably used to singing it as part of a service, the audience seemed torn – should they not applaud because they don’t applaud when they sing a hymn? Or should they applaud to show us their support for singing something religious (they’d have scanned the programme and realised that it was 50% secular!).
A clever choice for our next piece – ‘You Raise Me Up’. Popular, fairly modern, and could still be perceived as sacred.
Next it was ‘Love is All Around’. Again, maybe another clever piece as some of the audience might have thought it was about God’s Love. From the looks on many of their faces they weren’t feeling the lovin’! Especially the conductor of the Band who all evening looked pretty grim.
Our final piece for that set – ‘Fly me to the Moon’. Given all those science versus religion arguments during the Middle Ages, and what believers should and shouldn’t believe, this might have been considered sacrilege in Wesley’s day. But he wasn’t there so it probably didn’t matter.
Next, we got to hear a piece from the band. Everything the band played had been composed by a Norwegian Salvation Army Salvationist, Eric Herikstad who, when the concert was planned, was expected to be at the Anniversary Weekend, but had died in the meantime. Lucky we weren’t singing with the band as they’d have drowned us out. Ear Defenders weren’t available. From where we sat we had a pretty good view of those skilled musicians doing their thing.
Next Bandsman Martin, who seemed to be a big noise in Salvation Army music circles, treated us to two pieces, accompanied by David Stanley on our very own (still new; still on its early outings; still sounding good; still good value for money) Leigh Orpheus keyboard and associated sound system.
Then it was time for our second set. Just three numbers this time. All clearly secular. ‘Alexanders’ Ragtime Band’ might have had some feet tapping but ‘Wellerman’ was maybe a bit risky for an organisation that promotes temperance! “Soon may the Wellerman come, to bring us sugar and tea and…….RUM.” We smiled, Dave soloed, and many seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps it was the thought of that forbidden rum? Finally for that set ‘Wade in the Water’. A spiritual, so we’d expect our SA pals to like it. Especially as there is reference to “askin my Lord to save me please”. Not sure that “I heard a rumbling up in the sky. Musta been Jesus passin by.” isn’t a bit flippant?
Anyhow, back to the service, and it was time for Capt Robert to introduce Eric Herikstand’s daughter Maria who had travelled from Norway to represent her family and hear a special piece that her father had written especially for the Leigh SA - ‘JubeLeighonSea’. It would be good to have the opportunity to hear it played again as two of us at least thought we heard The Village People’s ‘Go West’ within the music. If so that made it even more relevant that there was a Diversity and Inclusion Flag above the Band. (the SA are totally cool about LGBTQ+ issues and the Methodists vary depending on what type of Methodist they are). Maria was presented with a ‘then and now’ picture of the Leigh SA. She seemed pleased.
Then it was the interval. There had been a previous querying of whether the drinks we were routinely helping ourselves to were actually for us or for the church’s Harvest Festival! They were for us and we indulged appropriately and relaxed in a room that wasn’t ours but which we very effectively took over.
On to the second half. Despite Capt Robert confirming what time we needed to go back in at the end of the interval, Bandleader Paul didn’t wait for us and started before we made our entrance. Sadly a less precise entrance this time. One member let us down by deliberately not complying and another just couldn’t get himself in the right place at the right time.
We all sang another Wesley hymn – ‘Love Divine all Loves Excelling’ (in retrospect we could have sung one of our ‘love’ songs afterwards!).
Then our final set where we left the English language to sing in Zulu and Welsh. starting with Siyahambe where the variations in the level of sound we were producing had us marching into the distance and then back again quite quickly.
Next Gwahoddiad. Despite the fact that they wouldn’t understand us singing in Welsh, as the audience had been told that this was a hymn, they were potentially back on board, And they liked it! So, of course, did we. Who doesn’t like those final ‘Amens’?!
Those of us looking at our programmes knew we had a long slog until the end and nothing for us to do. We listened to another Herikstad March from the band.
Next there was more Tuba/Martin who this time gave us a bit of background to his musicianship.
The band again. Yes, another Herikstad piece.
Next, a bible reading by Colonel Jenine Main, followed by a reflection (aka a sermon). Colonels Paul and Jenine Main were special guests for the 121st Anniversary weekend. Some reflected on what Colonel Jenine said, some reflected on the meaning of life and some reflected on the fantastic wooden roof in the church.
Another hymn with the band and yet another Herikstad piece played by the band. Those of us analysing the programme realised that we’d been on for three sets and the band had been on for six. Again, not exactly the ‘joint’ concert we were expecting.
Finally we were blessed and it was time to go. There were potentially much worse ways of spending a Saturday evening. Another good opportunity for us to promote the Leigh Orpheus. An opportunity for us to sing in the town whose name we take. And joy of joys, a performance where Jan used the pic to introduce our pieces!
Some of us went straight off home and others who could stay generously helped pack up the sound equipment and carry it to Neil’s car where, as long as it all went in in the correct order, it all fitted and could be taken back to Safestore.
An Autumn Extravaganza. Trinity Methodist Church Chelmsford. Saturday, 30th September 2023.
This concert has a bit if history about it! In Autumn 2022 we did a Hertfordshire MiniTour including a performance at a lovely deconsecrated country church in Great Munden. The locals liked us so much that the neighbouring folk of Little Munden asked if we could go back and sing for them to help to raise funds for their still-being-used church. Why not?! They would cover the costs of our Music Team and, significantly, give us an afternoon tea which would equal the quality and quantity of the tea provided at Great Munden. What’s not to like?
We agreed a date, plans were made, a coach was booked, the programme was arranged, a final visit was made to check out the logistics. Then, without much notice, they cancelled on us! With no apology that we’d therefore been left in the lurch and expecting a 30th September performance. Not exactly ‘Love thy Neighbour’!
In an attempt to rescue the situation we put it about in Male Voice Choir circles that we were trying to find somewhere to perform on 30th September. And, what do you know, our neighbours, the Chelmsford Male Voice Choir came forward and invited us to join them in an evening concert. So generous of them. The usual planning of programme, agreeing of joint pieces, visiting the venue and so on went on. As did rehearsing our own and the two joint pieces.
And so it was that we pitched up at Trinity Methodist Church on Saturday 30th September to sing in Chelmsford MVC’s Autumn Extravaganza Concert.
Many a challenge was overcome! Car sharing, travelling all the way to Chelmsford, car parking, avoiding going past the Bus Station and the associated £40 fine and so on. Zed arrived so early that he got involved in helping them get the place ready! Sadly during our time there negotiating the podium wasn’t so successful for Barry McGee’s wife who got a nasty gash on her leg as a result of its sharp corner.
It turned out that we were in for a pleasant, and from all the feedback, very successful concert.
There was some degree of waiting around while choir seats were put in position and even more waiting around while we sorted out our own Leigh Orpheus sectional positions. But eventually it all went very well and we ended up with seating that worked and positions for singing that worked too. It was lucky for us that the Chelmsford folk had put us in front of them. As they use a different formation for their sections the fact that they were spread around us potentially helped.
Time for a rehearsal of the two pieces we’d be singing together at the ends of each half. Here we are with Jan rehearsing 'An American Trilogy'.
Then a bit of down time. Some went off in search of a sandwich. Some made it to our Green Room which had been moved to the first floor from the second. Nice of Chelmsford to supply us with some bottled water. (We would do at least as much if we had a visiting choir). Some stayed downstairs as the lift to the first and sending floors was out of service.
Then it was on with the show.
What do you know, having lined up on the stairs, and with those who couldn’t manage the stairs joining us as we went in, we did one of the best ‘line by line’ entrances we’ve ever done. Proves it’s possible!
As the programme shows, as the hosts, Chelmsford went first, their MD Paul Smith (who had come to one of our rehearsals to rehearse ‘Softly’ with us) conducting them. How nice to just sit and listen to another Male Voice Choir, even if those right behind were, on many occasions, pretty loud. If you were there you know what they sounded like. If you weren’t – well it was pretty good and possibly helped us realise that we’d need to put on a good performance if we were to match them.
Next, a soloist. Again, very nice to sit and listen. Colin Barron had the best view!
Then we were on, conscious of Jan’s warning that our first impression was important – we needed to look like we were enjoying it. Is it just me, or do audiences not give us a lot of feedback by not smiling back at us?!
‘New York New York’ was followed by ‘Fly me to the Moon’. Here we are singing it with a video kindly taken by Brian Hickey’s wife Sue and expertly formatted by Ron Circus who sadly couldn’t be at the concert. (Click on the pic)
Next was ‘This Nearly was Mine’ and ‘Love is All Around’. Finally for our last piece in this set, ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’. Having been sitting comfortably and still the audience seemed to get their feet tapping at that point! The applause was generous, including from our colleagues from Chelmsford MVC behind us.
We’d got as far as the interval with no obvious glitches and with an air of satisfaction from the audience. Jan’s subtle appreciation as we finished the pieces had been both welcome and reassuring.
After the interval it was back on again. Not quite as smart or organised as our first entrance. Maybe concentration had dropped.
We were on first for this half in which it turns out we’d demonstrate our language skills by not only deploying our native Estuary English, but also Zulu, Māori and Welsh. (and later Yankee if you count ‘American Trilogy’!).
Each of the pieces seemed to go down well in their own way. Dave Smith’s voice had held out well for his solos in ‘Wellerman’ and he did us proud. Those who were standing on the wooden parts of the floor foot-tapped appropriately. (note from pedant – the piece is entitled ‘Wellerman’. Not ‘THE Wellerman’!!!), In ‘Siyahambe’ Jan took the dynamic to extremes we hadn’t experienced for a long time.
The soloist again with two more pieces, one a duet which was pretty cool.
Then it was their turn. ‘The Drinking Song’ with their two soloists was great, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ made it difficult for us to not join in and they finished with ‘Men of Harlech’ which was certainly rousing.
Time for the thank you’s by very many. The Mayor of Chelmsford was generous in her praise. It was possible to be convinced that she really did prefer attending yet another event the Mayor is expected to pitch up at than an evening at home in front of the TV. Our Chairman Sam had the opportunity to say how grateful we were to have been invited and what a great evening it had been.
Then the final piece. As might be expected from a church (although it’s not always the case) the acoustic was pretty good and with Jan conducting, and Kay accompanying, the two choirs embarked on ‘An American Trilogy’ (pedant alert!).
It felt good having so many singing a piece that we know and love. We loved singing it. The audience loved hearing it. And you can view the video here by clicking on the pic:
And that was it! The end of a fine evening. Some of us especially appreciated just being able to pick up our things and go. Not cajole, or be cajoled, into staying to put the furniture back ready for a church service the following day.
We’d had a good evening and came away considering what pieces they had sung which we’d maybe like to add to our repertoire. Lots of good feedback from Chelmsford MVC and others. Jan commented “I was extremely proud of the choir last week. It was a lovely concert and we performed well.”
Onwards and upwards – next week it’s another joint concert, this time with the Leigh on Sea Salvation Army Band. (We won’t be doing any joint pieces!)
The Leigh Orpheus Autumn Concert. St Augustine's Church, Thorpe Bay. Saturday 16th September 2023
For the second year in a row our Autumn concert took place at St Augustine’s, Thorpe Bay. We were warmly welcomed last year and had a good audience. We hoped for the same this year.
Some Leigh Orpheus members were there early to get things organised – seating for the choir when not performing, an uncluttered performance area, the piano, a raffle table – that sort of thing.
Then the inevitable ‘positioning and sound check’ which was supposed to start at 6pm. To be fair most members were there on time. It has to be done and actually helped us to find that our performance here sounded many times better than our lack-lustre singing at rehearsal the previous evening.
After the sound check the opportunity to present Ian McClean, Mac, with his choir pin, this being his first full, in uniform, concert.
St Augustine’s is one of those venues where we are able to have a raffle. Leigh Orpheus members had been very generous indeed in donating raffle prizes.
We’d been rehearsing the pieces for this concert for some time. Words were challenging for some. Sticking to the sectional line was challenging for others. But, work having been done on them, it all came together pretty well on the night.
With Rev Dave having welcomed us (and having somewhat dubiously invited audience members to follow him to the toilets in the Church Hall during the interval) we kicked off with our first set. Two Frank Sinatra pieces – ‘New York, New York’ and ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, then Siyahambe and ‘Every Time I Feel the Spirit’.
Here’s a video of us singing ‘New York, New York’ (Click on the image)*
Here’s a video of us singing ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ (click on the image)*
Here’s a video us singing of ‘Siyahambe’ (you know what you have to do!)*
The audience liked them all!
Then it was time for the first of our first of three soloists – Ron Circus singing ‘If You Were the Only Girl in the World’ expertly accompanied by Jan.
Click on Ron's pic to hear and see his performance.
Our second set comprised three love songs, ‘Love is All Around’, ‘Three Times a Lady’ and our first public outing of ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’.
Time for Dave’s first of three solos. A self-composed piece written in 2013 called ‘England 63’.
Then it was audience participation time. The ‘Gospel Medley followed by ‘We are the Champions’ All the usual arm-waving towards the end of ‘Champions’. Some even enjoyed it. And no ‘jazz hands’ (It’s NOT a jazz piece!)
Interval time and the relief of a trip to the Church Hall for many. Some held out in the queue for the single toilet in the church.
More raffle-ticket-purchasing meaning more lovely money into our Leigh Orpheus funds; every little helps! (and as we’ll see later, the income from the raffle wasn’t insignificant).
Lots of friendly chatting with guests.
On to the Second Half, with songs associated with water reminding those who hadn’t been to the loo during the interval that maybe they should have paid a visit.
‘Wade in the Water’, ‘Calm is the Sea’ and ‘The Wellerman’ with Dave doing another solo within this piece. That guy’s talents!!
Time for us to sit down and listen to another solo. After a surprisingly short intro to his piece Jim wowed the audience with Benjamin Britten's arrangement of WB Yeat’s ’ The Sally Gardens’. An old Irish folk song sung by an old Australian!
Then time to share even more love with three more love songs. ‘This Nearly Was Mine’, ‘Pokarekare Anna’ (crib sheets were discretely brought out) and ‘Stand by Me’. Tony Grellier’s Review on the public part of our website tells us that we are the 400th group to have performed this piece!
Here’s a video us singing of ‘Pokarecare Ana’. Our Māori is impeccable.*
Then on came Dave again with his guitar, to sing another Smudger Original, ‘If It’s Raining Where You Are’.
We try not to miss the opportunity to do a recruitment promotion and this concert offered one. Out stepped Sam to talk about how great it is to sing in the Leigh Orpheus and to exhort men in the audience to come along to our Singing Workshop on 14th October.
Then, the raffle having been drawn by Pam and her Front of House Ladies, the winning numbers were announced. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait for everyone to go and get their prizes – there were 27 of them. Audience members could collect their prizes as they left.
Then it was almost over, But not before we’d impressed the audience with our last two pieces: ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘American Trilogy’.
Here’s a video us singing of ‘You Raise Me Up’*
And here’s a video us singing ‘American Trilogy'*
Another successful concert at St Augustine’s. Jan was pleased and we’ve had some lovely feedback from the Vicar at St Augustine’s saying how enjoyable it was.
We managed to do a little bit more than break even with ticket sales. But our saving grace was the raffle that itself raised £350.
Thanks to Ron Circus for videoing the pieces sung in the concert and editing them so that they are available for us to watch via the links above.
- VERY IMPORTANT. The videos on our Members' area, which includes those in this Report, are for our own enjoyment only. ON NO ACCOUNT should they be shared or copied. There could be some that are not necessarily of a quality that we would want made public
The Hadleigh Community Summer Fayre. 3rd September 2023
With so many local people likely to attend this event it would be a good opportunity to promote our Autumn Concert at St Augustine's, Thorpe Bay, on 16th September and our Singing Workshop - another of our recruitment initiatives - on 14th October. We wanted to sing but there was no time for us. Nevertheless, a stall would give us a good opportunity for Leigh Orpheus promotion.
The ‘set up’ team were in place early, putting up the gazebo and creating an image that was clean and professional (which could not be said for some of the other stalls in the vicinity!).
Mac, John Hillier, George Lockheart and Neil did their finest, much assisted by items brought along by John and George.
Then it was time for the fun to begin. John Stack (who was there for a double-session), Jim Ryan and Dave Smith and Sam (both of whom would return for another session in the afternoon) kicked things off at the start. 11,00 am. As the uniform that had been suggested didn’t work, and it was going to be a hot day, open necked shirt and red waistcoat was agreed (with trousers and shoes and socks of course).
Members of the public started drifting by, some interested, some trying to avoid us. It didn’t take long to learn appropriate responses to “I’m not interested, I can’t sing to save my life.” with gems like “Never mind, let me give you this flyer for our next concert and you can come and hear us sing!”
Flyers were given out; conversations were had.
John Stack used a potentially-risky technique of approaching children and offering them sweets! All was above board though as it meant he could then very effectively interact with the accompanying father! Brilliant!
Then at 12.30 pm it was time for the next team to take over. John Stack stayed on and Michael joined.
It has to be said that everyone did well in interacting with the punters, but the team of John and Michael went the extra mile to keep people engaged. No excuse would get past them. No comment not responded to with an appropriate quip.
It was rumoured that the Orpheus Singers sang. We heard the introductions but we didn’t hear them. A challenging place to sing outdoors.
Half way through the day and the next team were in place for the 2 pm shift. Peter, Colin and George.
Again, plenty of interactions, interest shown and flyers distributed. Sadly no tickets sold by Neil who was there all day to work the Card Machine but good feedback from a member of the public that we looked good in our red waistcoats. That’s ‘marketing’ for you!
There was some consternation when one of the team exclaimed, with earshot of those around, as he talked to a lady “It’s all right, I’ve given her one.”. He was referring to having given a lady a flyer. Others misinterpreted the comment!
Then the graveyard shift at 3.30 pm. But Zed, Dave and Sam kept things alive and managed some more engagement with potential new audience and choir members.
By 4.30 pm other stalls were shutting up shop and the trickle of punters was lessening. Time for us to pack up.
Huge thanks to Mac, Dave, Sam, Zed, John Hillier, Colin and George for their swift packing away work. We even overcame the challenge of how to collapse the frame of the gazebo without bending it out of shape!
An excellent day’s work which will hopefully pay off in terms of audience members at St Augustine’s and new recruits at our Singing Workshop.
August 2023. Leigh Orpheus Welcomes Another Three New Members.
Their first full, in-uniform, perfromance was on Saturday, 19th August. On Friday, 25th August they were presented with their choir pins by Chairman Sam Coley.
The way we promoted our concerts in 2014!
Effective promotion is always a challenge! Getting the message across in a way that attracts people's attention can involve a number of techniques. Generally the more effective they are the more expensive they are. So no-cost techniques that might work are always worth considering.
Whatever made us think that pushing a piano around Leigh on Sea on a Saturday morning would attract people to a Leigh British Legion concert at West Leigh Baptist Church?
Well some of us did!
It wasn't all easy-going!
As it happened, our then President, Sir David Amess, was passing by and he joined us.
We must have thought it was effective because we did the same thing again in November 2014, promoting our Christnas Concert and a Mayor's Charity Variety Night we were involved in.
And we did it in the dark!
Don't we look different in our 'old' LOMVC uniforms?!
Who can name all of the LOMVC members involved?!
From the Southend Echo February 2008.
Recruitment in 2008. Come and Sing (2).
The LOMVC Summer Concert 2023
The Concert was preceded by our Supporters Tea to which we'd invited Patrons, Life Members, Committee Members and Honarary Members. All people who give us invaluable support. Good to see some old friends and to chat over old times. Loyal Life Member Paul Lloyd, now a member of the St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir was there. Pam had bought in some sumptuous sandwiches, cakes, and of course scones, cream and jam. The hospitality team served them to our guests. They loved it!
Also before the concert an opportunity to present two new members, performing a full concert for the first time, with their choir pins. Welcome to being a Full Member lads. We hope your time with the Leigh Orpheus will be an enjoyable and memorable one.
On to the concert which was held on a sunny evening at the Salvation Army Temple in Hadleigh. Alan had done a brillaint job selling tickets at rehearsal and our online ticket sales were fairly popular too. Hence, a good audience in our home venue but no need for us to open the back area for extra seating.
The rest of this Report is based on a Review of the concert written by Tony Grellier who was in the audience.
We'd rehearsed the pieces, including some new and newly-revived pieces, and we were ready to go. Good to see Liszi on her feet and then seated to support Kay.
Jan, suitably attired in a colourful summer dress, led us straight into Irving Berlin's lively "Alexander's Ragtime Band", which served to grab the attention of audience from the very start. Then by way of contrast this was followed by the beautiful a cappella piece "Calm is The Sea" evoking images of a fishing village harbour.
With yet another change of tone we moved on from the calm of a fishing village to the razzamatazz of "New York, New York" made famous by Frank Sinatra.
This was followed by Ralph Foulkes' debut LOMVC solo, a stirring rendition of "Stars" from Les Misérables which received a noisy and enthusiastic response from the audience. Well done, Ralph!
Next was the African American spiritual "Wade in the Water" followed by the New Zealand whaling shanty "The Wellerman" with Dave singing the solo.
Next, two familiar gospel songs "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "When the Saints go Marching In" were combined into a medley with an opportunity for the audience to participate.
The next soloist provided a rare opportunity to hear a the trombone as a solo instrument. Music teacher Claire Golding
described how she had progressed through a variety of instruments to the trombone. She then demonstrated the instrument playing the "Theme from Ground Force" and the slow movement from Rimsky-Korsakov's "Trombone Concerto". We hadn't been sure what to expect, but as it turned out we and the audience loved it.
In the second half of the concert Claire gave us an amusing insight into the difficulties of playing an instrument where the notes have to be found by the extent of the slide and variations on the mouthpiece. This was followed by her playing "Chicago Blues" and "The Acrobat".
The first half of the concert was closed with Queen's "We are the Champions" with another opportunity for audience participation. Here we are.Waving again. And yes, one stubborn member of the choir deliberately doing 'jazz hands' (as were many members of the audience).
At start of the second half we brought out three new or recently revived items: "Love is All Around" , "This Nearly Was Mine" and "Stand by Me".
Ron Circus, a regular soloist, gave a smooth performance of "That's All" a song associated with many singers from Nat King Cole through to Michael Buble.
The concert was finished in Proms-like style with The Choir singing "Sea Songs" and, with the help of the audience, "Rule Britannia", "Jerusalem" and "The National Anthem".
A good time was had by all!
We have the use of a pretty good quality piano at the Salvation Army Temple where we rehearse on Fridays. Many of the venues at which we perform have pianos or keyboards. So, generally, we can pitch up and use the piano or keyboard that is there.
However, that’s not always the case and over many years we’ve needed to have our own keyboard – and associated amplifier and speakers, leads, power cables, stand and stool – to use when nothing else is available (or where what else is available is not up to the quality we need).
Our old keyboard did us sterling service. We used it locally at such places as the Leigh Folk festival and the Mayoral concerts. It’s been on tour with us in the UK (some will remember a time in Poole’s Cavern on a Peak District Tour when an umbrella had to be used to stop the keyboard, and Jackie our Accompanist, being dripped on by water from the cave’s roof!). It’s bounced around in the holds of coaches when we’ve been on tour abroad (some will remember lugging it, with amplifier, speakers and so on, to a Cathedral on the top of a hill in Germany).
But as well as Covid impacting on the health of some members, Covid also seemed to impact on the health of our old keyboard! Having previously wired it up and switched it on it had always worked well, not so when we switched it on for the first time, post-Coviud, for our first performance on the Herts MiniTour. It was seriously ill! Three keys not working and not the quality of sound we expect and need. We got by with it on tour, but repair seemed unlikely or stupidly expensive and we needed something dependable. And potentially of much better quality.
With technology having moved on considerably since we purchased our old keyboard Dave recommended and Jan agreed a new model of digital piano. Much better quality and half the price of our old keyboard. And Kay likes playing it. It’s a beauty. It’s a Kawait ES520.
For those who are interested, here are a few of the technical details of our new digital piano:
- Kawai instruments can be found in the most prestigious concert halls and musical institutions throughout the world, and are recognised for their outstanding tonal clarity and exceptional dynamic range.
- All 88 keys of the SK-EX, SK-5, and EX concert grand pianos were painstakingly recorded, then accurately reproduced as high-fidelity digital waveforms. Unlike other piano manufacturers, Kawai records each note individually to preserve the grand pianos’ unique harmonic character.
- The ES520 includes a total of 34 high-quality tones from all over the world, including electric pianos, church organs, strings, choirs, and rhythms.
- Despite being a digital piano, the ES520 has the touch and feel of an acoustic instrument. The Responsive Hammer Compact II keyboard has been carefully designed to offer the distinctive touch of an acoustic piano with immaculate detail. The ES520 uses a spring-less design that delivers a consistent upward and downward motion for a smooth and natural piano playing experience.
- The ES520 features a graded keyboard. Just as acoustic pianos utilise heavier bass hammers and lighter treble hammers, the ES520’s keyboard is appropriately weighted for each playing range.
If you want the full monty with 24 mins of explanation (and sales talk) click on the keyboard below.
A nifty piece of kit, eh? We anticipate it giving many years of service to the Leigh Orpheus. Maybe we’ll also need to invest in a new umbrella just in case we are ever in a dripping cave again?!
A tragedy of unbelievable scale. On February 6th 2023 a powerful earthquake hit South East Turkey and the northwest region of war-torn Syria, leaving millions of people in urgent need of basic necessities like shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and medicines.
The Leigh Orpheus has a strong tradition of raising funds to support those affected by major crises such as these and, a Committee decision having been made, we set to enthusiastically to stage a fund-raising concert. Being able to secure a venue, and have our MD Jan and accompanist Kay available on the same date would be unlikely at short notice. But we knew that venue, MD and accompanist were all available on Friday, 24th February as we’d all be at rehearsal together. And we wouldn’t have to pay a fee to hire a venue. We asked the Salvation Army if we could hold a concert, instead of our rehearsal, on Friday 24th February and they agreed. Just one hour. No interval. Rehearsal after the concert. On a previous occasion, many years ago, we planned a very similar event and earned the unending and ongoing, until he left, criticism of the person responsible for Temple bookings, by asking if the Table Tennis Club needed their room when we wanted to have a concert on a Friday. This time the Table Tennis guys had been told by the SA in advance that we might make such a request. Having asked their members they agreed to vacate their space for the duration of the concert. What a lovely group they are!
Within one week we’d got all of the arrangements in place, arranged for the design and printing of posters and flyers and Jan had a programme planned.
We had just two weeks to get a sufficiently-large audience to attend a free concert and hopefully be prepared to donate generously instead of having to pay for tickets, and in support of a worthy cause.
And to ensure that we were ready with our music we could use much of the material we’d used at the Beat the January Blues concert as well as music we’d be singing at a concert in April. A bonus – this additional concert would allow our potential new members to sing some of the pieces with us.
Not selling tickets in advance is always a bit risky as it is impossible to predict how many will attend. Especially as it is a free event. Too few and it looks like a flop. Too many and we have to turn people away. And they are never happy.
On the night several members arrived early enough to undertake the not-inconsiderable task of getting the necessary choir seats on stage and extra seats into the Worship Area and Table Tennis room. Members prepared to undertake such tasks are so valuable.
We didn’t want to make our new members stand out as they weren’t yet paying subs and entitled to free uniform loan. So, to the dismay of some and the delight of others, it was a simple uniform of black shoes, black trousers, white shirt and bright red bowtie. Useful as until that clarification some existing members thought we had two types of red bowtie!
Not much time for rehearsal, but we managed it
Here’s the programme:
LOMVC Speed Your Journey
Solo Harry Rowson
LOMVC Close Thine Eyes
You Raise Me Up
Duet Jan Walker and Kay Duell
LOMVC The Wellerman
Gospel Medley – Swing Low etc
Solo Ron Circus
LOMVC Rhythm of Life
We are the Champions
Reprise of You Raise Me Up
Sadly, no pics of the concert itself (any volunteers among non-singers to be our Official Photographer?) but a couple more shots while we were rehearsing:
Like the choir, our soloists (Harry and Ron) and our duetists (Jan and Kay) were well-received.
During the singing of ‘You Raise me Up’ a video was shown to audience members. You can view it, with sound track added by clicking here. Its impact on some was profound. Severasl of us held back tears as we saw members of the auduence in tears. Our thanks go to Ron Circus for producing this.
Did audience members give generously? They certainly did! We raised nearly £1,800 for the Turkey~Syria Earthquake Appeal.
It just remained for us to reinstate the Temple, for us to have a regular Friday rehearsal and for the Table Tennis guys to play table tennis. Many loyal Leigh Orpheus members, along with the new guys, mucked in, as did the Table Tennis guy. And things were quickly back to normal. Another RESULT!
We’d had the Christmas Concert in Hadleigh, hopefully drawing attention to ourselves and our Recruitment Campaign. A concert in nearby Rayleigh could also be beneficial. After many months of false-starts for the arranging of this concert in conjunction with others we eventually took the arrangements in-house and organised it ourselves. Unusually we had two good venues that we could use on our chosen date. We chose Holy Trinity Church in Rayleigh. To the great relief of our Concert Manager the folk at Holy Trinity were pleasant and supportive – a joy to work with.
In the depths of winter, on a potentially cold and damp January evening, what better title for a Leigh Orpheus Concert than ‘Beat the January Blues’; an evening of music to warm the soul’?!
As usual posters and flyers were produced for distribution by members. Some members are very successful in the numbers of flyers they distributed and where they manage to get them. A team of four members nabbed passers-by in Rayleigh High Street. And of course we put it out on social media with several members successfully getting our virtual flyers seen in many community groups. Alan did his bit selling tickets on the desk at rehearsals, taking cash as well as keeping our credit/debit card machine working well (who uses cash these days?) (oh, alright, some still do!). On-line tickets sold well too.
Not a lot of time for rehearsing the pieces for this concert with only three rehearsals after our Christmas and New Year break. Nevertheless, Jan put together a varied programme which would hopefully provide an evening of music that souls would warm to.
LOMVC African Prayer
Softly as I Leave You
Every Time I Feel the Spirit
Solo Jim Ryan
LOMVC Speed Your Journey
You Raise Me Up
Solo Ron Circus
LOMVC With Cat-Like Tread
Calm is the Sea
Song of the Jolly Roger
LOMVC Back to the 60s (All of it!)
Solo Harry Rowson
LOMVC American Trilogy
Rhythm of Life
We are the Champions
(yes, ‘We are the Champions’ is still there!).
We all pitched up at Holy Trinity, found that our Green Room, the Cloisters, wasn’t at all bad compared with other facilities we’ve used elsewhere and got on with our sound check/rehearsal.
Then we were on!
Not a bad acoustic in the church and, as has become necessary nowadays, adequate seating for choir members when not performing. One day we are going to get a nice, smart, orderly entrance and exit onto and off the performance area. But the question is, will it be in 2023? (answers on a postcard).
The audience appreciated our fine performances with Dave conducting ‘Unchained Melody’ and, predictably, ‘Rhythm of Life’. Who doesn’t like the four-handed piano accompaniment?!
We all appreciated our three skilled soloists.
There was a bit of a battle between the volume Kay wanted set for her accompaniment on the church’s electric piano and the volume the helpful chap on the sound desk at the back thought was appropriate! Nevertheless we rolled out ‘Song of the Jolly Roger’ with great gusto.
Of course, Sam told the audience about our Recruitment Campaign and the fact that it was on the following Friday that we had our first ‘Try us Out’ session.
It had been another good concert and, as a result of both the tickets booked beforehand, and the number of walk-ins, we more than covered our costs and made a tidy profit. That will help our funds!
Over the years we’ve undertaken a number of recruitment campaigns, the most remembered probably being the three ‘Come and Sings’ However, the results of each Come and Sing campaign have been progressively less successful in terms of the numbers of new recruits who have actually stayed with the choir. The Come and Sing campaigns relied largely on Leigh Orpheus members plodding the streets delivering huge quantities of leaflets through doors. Many of us are just not up for that any more.
With published research proving that Singing is good for your health (Click here for the research), and with a campaign aimed at the start of a New Year, the idea of this campaign was to appeal to those who were making New Year resolutions and wanted to feel healthier by singing. Lots of meetings of the Recruitment Sub Committee took place. Plans were made. Flyers were designed and printed. Many liked the pic of the choir we used, taken some years ago at Hadleigh Castle when we were making a promotional video.
In December, in preparation for the launch of the campaign after Christmas and New Year Leigh Orpheus members were asked to try to get stocks of leaflets into GP surgeries, Health Centres and Pharmacies. Some were successful in doing so. We ensured that the public-facing section of our website was up-to-date and fit-for-purpose.
Initially members were allocated a batch of leaflets to give to family and friends. Some loyal and motivated members distributed leaflet in supermarkets. A team of members stood in Rayleigh High Street promoting not just the Recruitment campaign but also our forthcoming concert in Rayleigh. 50 A3 posters were positioned on notice board around the Southend area. 10,000 leaflets were printed for paid distribution in the Hadleigh area. There was major promotion on the choir’s Facebook page. Press releases went out (but weren’t successful).
The outcome? A good number of guys responded to our invitation to come along to a special session in George’s Hall on Friday, 3rd February, joined by Section Leaders and some Committee members. The deal was ‘come along and try us out. No commitment. nothing to pay. If you don’t like it nothing’s been lost. If you do like it we hope you’ll stay.
And most of them have stayed! We started with 8. Three decided it wasn’t for them. One extra joined. So we now have, hopefully, 6 new members. They’re certainly showing a welcome enthusiasm and commitment. Such a shame the Welsh-speaker couldn’t commit to Fridays!
So that they weren’t feeling that they hadn’t got a clue what was going on while surrounded by others who had sung familiar pieces over many years everyone, our new visitors and choir alike, embarked on learning new material. We were all in the same boat. None of us knew more than anyone else. So we got going on ‘Alexanders Ragtime Band’ and ‘Wellerman’.
And, as it turned out, knowledge of these new pieces presented extra opportunities for our new recruits. Theyt were able to take part in the Earthquake Appeak and ‘On the Water’ concerts.
In sharp contrast to the sad occasion of John Smith’s funeral earlier in the day, this was an opportunity to enjoy the warm company of the Leigh Orpheus ‘family’.
So, an evening of popular music, appropriate for a Christmas gathering, was planned. No uniform. Christmas jumpers and Santa Hats. Partners and wives, friends of the choir, Patrons, Life Members, Honorary Members; all were invited. Many came. Sadly Jan was il and couldn’t be there.
We’d aimed for a relaxed evening of light entertainment. We think we succeeded in providing it.
Dave led us through our programme. Our good friend the Rev Canon David Tudor, as he so often does, crafted some skilled words. Our friends, the audience, joined in the singing and we all had a good time!
It was Christmas and, thanks to our Front of House team, after the concert, we were able to enjoy some Christmas treats while we caught up on each other’s news.