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 at Chelmsford Cathedral. 19th April 2024

 

Our Performances at Chelmsford Cathedral are always eagerly anticipated. And more so this performance as included in our programme would be ‘Flying Free’ with Evan accompanying us on his flute, a new piece introduced to us by Chris Pethers at one of the workshops, 'Love Shine a Light', and ‘The Song of the Jolly Roger’ where we could max out on our pirate accessories.

Some serious work at rehearsals went into getting to the best standard we could. Evan Davis (flautist) came to two rehearsals to rehearse ‘Flying Free’ with us (despite him having performed this with us several times before). Some members made good use of the Rehearsal Tracks which were available for almost all the pieces we’d be singing. Some didn’t need to. Some said ‘what rehearsal tracks?’. Some couldn’t understand what it was all about and thought Chelmsford Cathedral was a type of cheese.

For one or two members Chelmsford Cathedral is practically on the doorstep. For others getting there was a bit of a challenge but some helpful offering of lifts sorted that out. The weather wasn’t exactly what we’d have hoped for but nevertheless practically everyone arrived on time, wearing their black LOMVC outdoor jackets. One member of the audience was keen to tell Jim how nice it was to see so many men looking so smart. However, it did turn out that she was visually impaired!

A certain amount of arranging, re-arranging and re-re-arranging of the chairs, and bringing extra chairs when more members than had said they would be there arrived (SO irritating when the seating has been planned based on those who have confirmed attendance!) and we finally did a sound check/warm up. Evan rehearsed, as did Whirlwind.

We posed for an official choir picture – always helpful for publicity pictures.

And when asked for the ‘wavy picture’ the request must have been a bit slow travelling from the basses; it didn’t get as far as some of the T2s!

Here’s the programme.

Then, with the audience coming in early to get the best seats, we did our usual mooching about. Some spoke with guests. Some relaxed. Some took the opportunity to get a drink. 

 

At exactly 12 noon a voice from the pulpit announced us, taking a couple of us by surprise and we had to nip to our seats. Jan wanted a confident start and that’s what we gave them with ‘Speed Your Journey’. Those of us who judge the audience on the applause they give us were satisfied. On to ‘Angels Watching Over Me’ which received equally good applause. The fact that so many members were actually watching Jan, and following her direction, helped.

Then Dave took over the conducting and by all accounts ‘Unchained Melody’ went down well. Click on the icon below for a link to the recording (please bear in mind that this was a live recording where the mic that recorded this piece was near the piano - and the Basses)

Next was the first outing of ‘Love Shine a Light’. We’d done a lot of work on it and for a first public performance it worked. And not only did we sing it – we proudly held our battery-operated nightlights aloft every time we got to a chorus. Which was quite often. Click on the icon below to get the link to the audio recording (usual rider about quality)

Onwards and upwards with ‘Flying Free’ and Evan accompanying. What a treat! Exquisite flute-playing and with Jan’s direction it seemed that everyone sang the right part at the right time. A lovely piece. Get a link to the recording (blah, blah) by clicking on the icon below.

A further treat for the audience next. We’d led them through a variety of styles of music, we’d teased them with the accompaniment of a woodwind player, and now they’d hear more woodwind instruments as we sat down and the ensemble ‘Whirlwind’ played three pieces.

On our feet again for our second set which started with a piece that was so right for this Cathedral setting – ‘Praise My Soul’. Good applause. Even the atheists clapped!

Who isn’t moved by Kay’s playing of the intro to ‘You Raise Me Up’?! Another of those pieces where the lower parts start off and the rest of us eventually join in. It always seems to work well.

Then a piece which has regularly featured in our recent programmes – ‘The Wellerman’. We sang, Dave sang a couple of solo verses, and a few of the audience joined us with the foot-stamping at the end.

Jan then turned to the audience to thank them and introduce our final programme piece. We hurriedly, and conspiratorially, donned our pirate accessories so that Jan could feign mock surprise as she turned to conduct us. She does that so well. And this performance was captured on video. Click on the flag to watch and hear us singing ‘The Song of the Jolly Roger’. Thanks to Lorry McLean for the audio and video recordings.

Finally, an exhortation from the pulpit to donate generously towards the cost of putting on the Lunchtime Concerts at the Cathedral and a request that we sing one more piece. Which we did. ‘Siyahambe’, in which even more concentration on Jan meant that she could move the piece around in the way she wanted.

Then time to go home. And which point the rain, which had paused while we were in the Cathedral, descended upon us again.

Following the performance Jan wrote Please tell choir members that I was extremely proud of our performance at Chelmsford Cathedral last week. I appreciate all the commitment and hard work that went into preparing the songs.” Twenty Seven people liked us on Facebook and there were a range of congratulatory comments. 

What a success!

To watch the complete concert, complete with Jan singing along and with some unintended background sound (the Live Stream produced by the Cathedral folk that was broadcast as we were singing) click on the icon below (best to scroll forward 7-30 to get to the actual start of the concert; unless you want to hear 7 1/2 minutes of audience babble)

                                   

Please remember that videos from these pages are for Leigh Orpheus members' use only; they should not be shared outside of the choir.

Video and audio recordings: Lorry McLean and Chelmsford Cathedral.

Two of a Kind. Our Joint Concert with Chelmsford Male Voice Choir. Saturday, 24th February 2024

We’d been to sing with Chelmsford Male Voice Choir in Chelmsford in September 2023. This was their return to sing with us.

                                                                    

Members had taken posters and flyers to display in places where they would have some impact (one had done some fly-posting on lamp posts in his local area!); there had been several promotions on Facebook. Ticket sales ticked over but weren’t impressive. It’s not unusual for the Concert Manager to be concerned that we might not cover our costs – which for this concert would need to cover the Music Team fees for two MDs and two accompanists, plus, of course, hire of the building, printing costs and other incidentals. Apart from the financial considerations it would be disappointing, not to say embarrassing, if we couldn’t welcome Chelmsford with a capacity audience. Things didn’t look good.

We’d fine-tuned our pieces over several Friday evening rehearsals. Our programme comprised pieces many of us knew. All credit to our not-now-so-new-newbies who managed without having to look at music scores. Top guys!

                                                       

At rehearsal the evening before the concert we’d fine-tuned the on-stage/off-stage traffic. With a bit of time and minor adjustments, from a Leigh Orpheus point of view it looked like it would work. Willing volunteers helped move as much furniture as possible so that we were as ready as we could be for the following evening. We had an optimistic 120 seats in place for the audience. Of course, we took the opportunity of putting recruitment flyers on seats.

                                           

Saturday afternoon arrived and we pitched up with most of us early or on time to do a final sound check and reminder.

                                                             

Then the Chelmsford boys arrived for us to rehearse the two joint pieces for the first time together. The first piece we rehearsed was to be the last in the concert. Jan was conducting this one. She started off at our usual ‘Gwahoddiad’ speed. The accompanist, Chelmsford’s accompanist, started at her usual speed. It didn’t feel right as it was so slow. Jan didn’t look pleased. Neil had a discrete word (yes, he can do it!). The accompanists swopped over and Kay brought us relief as we recognised something closer to what we were used to and off we went. Listening from the back, having the two choirs, something like 70 guys singing, sounded amazing.

We then practised swapping over choir positions – we walked off and went round to sit in the seats the Chelmsford guys had been in and they walked on to occupy the seats on stage we were leaving. It worked!

Time to rehearse ‘Rhythm of Life’ with the Chelmsford MD, Paul Smith, conducting. Seemed straightforward. Jan looked pleased.

We then left the Chelmsford guys to do their own sound-checking and rehearsing and went back to our Green Room. Pam and the Front of House team had provided some drinks and biscuits. Much appreciated.

Some down time and the opportunity to relax until we needed to be ready to go on. Not so relaxed in the Reception area where people without tickets kept pitching up. We wanted them there, of course. After all, they responded to suggestions from members of both choirs that they should come along. On the other hand could we fit them in?! We commandeered extra chairs from the refreshment area; we squeezed them in wherever there was room. Probably an extra 20 chairs which meant everyone who needed a seat had one. Just. If we'd known in advance we'd have opened up the Table Tennis Area (although that would impact on how we serve refreshments.)

Then it was 7.20. Chelmsford lined up, went in and occupied their seats. We got lined up in our four rows. Most knew where they fitted into their row. And in we went. Again, it worked.

We stood and we performed. Jan had been pleased at rehearsals that we were following her direction very well (See her comment below). That certainly seems to be confirmed here:

We started with ‘Speed Your Journey’ and followed that with ‘You Raise Me Up’. The applause was good and Kay’s accompaniment was appreciated.

Here's the video of 'You Raise Me Up' (said by some to be one of our finest performances of this piece!) (click on the icon):

And here's 'Speed your Journey':

Then Deputy MD Dave took over to conduct ‘Unchained Melody’. He was pleased with us and we were pleased with him! (well, looking at the pic it seems that one choir member thought it had been a disaster!)

Click on this icon for the video

Jan took back control for ‘Love is all Around’ and finally for this first set, ‘Praise my Soul’. More welcome applause.

Then the traffic on and off the stage. Did it work? YES! It certainly did!

Chelmsford were on. Someone commented that several of their members used folders. Maybe that was because they were new members. But as someone else commented, from the state of their uniforms it didn’t seem likely. LOMVC were definitely the winners in the sartorial stakes!

Chelmsford started with ‘Morte Christie’, which many of us knew. and moved on to ‘Away from the Roll of the Sea’. They received generous applause. Then another piece some of us have sung with the Leigh Orpheus, ‘The Rose’. Paul Smith, the Chelmsford MD seemed to have done his homework as his intro to each piece was fairly comprehensive.

For their final set another piece that we recognised ‘Stout Hearted Men’.

To finish the first half of the concert a joint performance of ‘Rhythm of Life’. Their accompanist had asked to play four handed with ours, and Kay had spent time learning the top part of the accompaniment.

Paul took it at a reasonable pace. We’ve sung it faster with Dave conducting but it went well. And Kay was relieved to have made a good job of it!

Interval time. The choirs exited to their respective Green Rooms and the audience exited to have their refreshments. Cold drinks and nice biscuits for the choirs. Water, hot and cold drinks and nice biscuits for the audience. Our Front of House Team were brilliant. Friendly and efficient, they served swiftly ensuring that the wait wasn’t too long and everyone felt welcomed. It was so impressive that the Chelmsford MD commented on how well they had done.

So, after about 20 minutes we were ready to return. Again, a pretty smart entrance from LOMVC with, once more, nearly every member knowing where they were meant to line up and with the lines walking in efficiently to their places at the side.

Chelmsford kicked off the second half with ‘A Clare Benediction’ and followed that with another number in our past repertoire, ‘There is Nothing Like a Dame’.

Then an interesting setting of ‘Ave Maria’ followed by ‘Pure Imagination’, made famous by the film ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’. Many of us were looking forward to hearing their performance of ‘African Prayer’. Maybe some of them had parked in the Morrisons Car Park and their time was about to run out – they took it pretty fast! Lucky it hadn’t been a joint piece.

Then our final Leigh Orpheus set. We opened with ‘An American Trilogy’ Always a crowd-pleaser. Jan looked pleased and Kay did us proud with her playing of the piano solo.

A complete change of contrast with our next piece, ‘Angels Watching Over Me’ and finally onto excerpts from the ‘60s Medley’. Some of us detected a small amount of moving to the groove when we sang ‘Pretty Flamingo’.

Nearly at the end of the concert, it was time for the ‘thanks’: Alan for being a star in selling tickets; Les for working the sound desk and taking 116 pictures (!!); the Front of House team for their efficient work in getting everyone seated and looking after all of the refreshments; the two accompanists, Kay and Sue; and, of course, MDs Jan and Paul.

Finally, the last joint piece which many had been looking forward to – ‘Gwahoddiad’ (in Welsh, of course!). It was sung heartily and mainly accurately.

                                             

Maybe not as accurate as we have often sung it, but no matter, choir members loved singing it and the audience loved hearing it.

Rapturous applause with several audience members getting to their feet (and not, apparently, because they wanted to get out quickly!). Turn the volume up, open the windows, and let the neighbourhood know what a Male Voice Choir sounds like!

It was over! Good night and a safe journey home. Many positive comments on the night. Many more since then, with several being listed below. Suggestions that we must arrange to meet up and do it again.

Neil was well-impressed with the accuracy and speed of the changeovers of the choirs! Take a look at it here (and well done Ron for another fine video!). Walk on!

However, it wasn’t over for everyone. With the Salvation Army people having arrived to reset the building for their service the following morning, a smashing gang of our guys stayed on to do some lifting and moving of furniture. Particular thanks to them. It’s great to share the load and good to show our friends at the SA that we want to be helpful.

If proof is needed that there were well-deserved compliments, here are some of the comments. Firstly from Jan:

My congratulations to the choir for their outstanding singing on Saturday. I could not have been more proud of the choir. The focus was amazing and enabled us to give a very polished performance.

At the time of writing this Report 27 (update - 35; still rising) people on Facebook have liked or loved our post about the concert with the following positive comments being made by choir and audience members:

Lovely to see more than one retired member in the audience, checking up on how we continue to entertain since they left. Lots of compliments received.

 Was a great concert. Well worth going to.

 It was a lovely concert - the two joint items were wonderful. What a rousing sound two MVCs make together 

 A great evening! I thoroughly enjoyed airing the vocal chords and the audience seemed to like it too. Bring on the next concert! 

 A very appreciative audience. A great night with a mixed choice of music. It was a pleasure to take part.

 Fabulous concert. 

 Yes that one Gwahoddiad brought a lump in the throat tho all of the songs were amazing. Well done all.

 Loved it, I found it very emotional, singing Gwahoddiad together…AWESOME 

 Good way to spend a Saturday evening listening to two splendid male voice choirs. If you wasnt there try and catch the next one.

Well done to all those involved in organising this concert

 You all sounded fantastic, a lovely evening x

 It was a great concert.

Further thanks! To Ron Circus for doing more excellent work recording and then editing and uploading videos of every single piece that we sang. Many are included within the Report above. The remainder are here (just click on the title).

Please remember that videos from these pages are for Leigh Orpheus members' use only; they should not be shared outside of the choir.

Leigh Orpheus pieces

Love is all Around

Praise my Soul

Angels Watching Over Me

Chelmsford MVC pieces

Morte Christie

Away From the Roll of the Sea

The Rose

A Clare Benediction

Ave Maria

Pure Imagination

 

Photos: Les Wilkins. Videos: Ron Circus

 

 

The Leigh Orpheus Music Workshop. Saturday, 10th February 2024.

We’d had such a great time when Chris Pethers had run a Workshop for us last Autumn that we wanted a repeat. Not of the same pieces, of course. Jan and Dave had considered a number of pieces suggested by Chris and settled on Billy Joel’s ‘And So It Goes’ and the Eurovision song winning entry by Katrina and the Waves, ‘Love Shine a Light’.

Librarian Chris had worked hard to ensure that we had copies of the music in advance. And, with thanks to the London Gay Men’s Chorus, we were able to use their rehearsal tracks for both pieces. They’d been available in the Practice and Performance section of our website for several weeks. Some of us had used them!

Thirty four of us pitched up at the Salvation Army Temple on Saturday, 10th February, with those of us who’d attended the previous workshop knowing today’s workshop was likely to be another ace session. Our participation was rewarded massively.

As usual, stressing its importance, Chris started us off with a wide-ranging Warm Up. We kept up pretty well until ‘Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry’.

                                                                   

Then it was on to learning the first piece. ‘Love Shine a Light’. We all responded well to Chris being able to demonstrate each of the parts. Jan accompanied like the professional accompanist she is. A piece with THREE key changes - that has to be a first for the Leigh Orpheus!

And in about an hour we were fairly confidently singing much of ‘Love Shine a Light’. It sounded good with all of the parts being sung pretty accurately. Maybe being in a semi-circle helped as we could hear each of the other sections. 

                                                                   

With such good progress having been made it was time for a refreshment break. Sue, Gerry and Val served up tea and coffee and we indulged in the biscuits.

Then back for more with this next session concentrating mainly on ‘And So It Goes’. An a cappella piece, again we made good progress and it wasn’t long before we were singing a sizeable amount. Click below to see and hear us (talking of clicks - if you weren't there, the clicks you can hear are Chris telling us when to finish words!):

 

A quick Comfort Break then back for some ‘performing’. First we divided into two choirs and Choir 2 sang to Choir 1, then Choir 1 sang to Choir 2. A pity that this video didn’t start at the very beginning, but it shows Choir 1 giving ‘And So It Goes’ a pretty impressive performance. Click on this link:

Finally, pushing at boundaries, Chris had us doing something that we aren’t used to doing – singing AND moving to the beat! Here we are with Chris singing so that we only had to concentrate on moving. Click below:

                                                           

Most of us cracked it.

The end of the session and then the thank you’s – Chris, of course, Jan for her accompanying and Neil for setting the event up.

Having rearranged the furniture into two semicircles and removed the other rows last evening, we had to put the chairs back into the formation they’d usually be in. Amazing! With practically everyone helping it only took a few minutes.

To finish a perfect morning, a super lunch with the friendly Sue, Gerry and Val, supplying sandwiches and cakes and even more tea and coffee. Our grateful thanks to Sue, Gerry and Val (and to Pam who had ordered it). It was so lavish that we were encouraged to take any left-overs home with us. No one did.

Oh wait, some certainly did!

Photos and Video: Neil. Video Editing: Ron

Singing to and with John Palmer. January 2024

From time to time we talk about the Leigh Orpheus Family. And like all families we care about other members of the family, especially when they are unwell.

What a fitting tribute to a past member, John Palmer, that on two occasions members of the Leigh Orpheus visited him in the Avondale Care Home, taking familiar songs for him to hear and to take part in.

Tuesday 16th January 2024
Monday, 29th January 2024

Good work guys!

We posted the first pic on Facebook and received some great responses, saying what a lovely gesture it was and appreciating the fact that the Leigh Orpheus cares about its members.

 

The Leigh Orpheus at the Southend on Sea Civic Christmas Carol Service. 19th December 2023.

Our FIFTH performance in December! That Concert Manager is working us too hard. But this event was a late request that we didn’t want to turn down. Another opportunity for us to be seen – and this time by the good and the great of Essex.

St Mary’s Church Prittlewell was the venue for this prestigious event.

An impressive range of luminaries would attend, including the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, The High Sheriff of Essex, the Mayor of Southend, along with Mayors from neighbouring Councils, Deputies, Youth Mayors and so on.

We posed and prepared, with the majority of us being prepared to be part of a team effort.

Jan, of course, conducted in her usual encouraging way.

After a rehearsal with Stand-In accompanist David Stanley (sadly Kay was ill and couldn’t be there) we were asked to practice looking smart. Most co-operated and looked good! 

But not all!

The good and the great started arriving

 

And then the service started with the procession of the clergy, the Lord Lieutenant and the Mayor taking their seats at the front. Part of our role was to stand in the chancel and sing the congregational carols in order to encourage congregational participation. It’s probably fair to say that the organ was so loud that it was a struggle to even hear the sound of our own voices, let alone whether or not we were having any effect on the singing in the nave.

Nevertheless the Service rolled on through carols and readings until the Two Elizabeths performed a duet of ‘O Holy Night’. Beautifully-performed; they had an extra verse compared with the version we sing.

Another reading, another carol, another reading and then we were on.

We moved forward smartly into our performance space – well, we’d had enough practice – and watched Jan the way we’d been told to (we weren’t as disciplined as we should have been when rehearsing).

We gave it our best, singing ‘O Men From the Fields’ twice (not sure that anyone apart from us noticed we sang the same thing twice) and got a welcome round of applause at the end.

Back to our seats in the choir stalls for the rest of the Service and then it was all over. As well as our solo piece we'd sung six Carols, with some thought to be traditional by some but being unknown by others.

Well actually, it wasn't quite over yet as we were invited to go across to the refurbished Church Hall where the hospitality was to a very high standard. No points for guessing who managed to consume impressive amounts of the free food – although he did have a challenger!

Great that fifteen Leigh Orpheus Members were prepared to give up their time to support this event and ensure that we are seen at as many public events as possible.

This year there are three Concert Manager’s Special Awards! One to Alan Mechem for being a stalwart in selling tickets at rehearsal and the second and third to Ralph Faulkes and Graham Halsey for attending every single one of the five December events. Well done, guys!

 

 

The Leigh Orpheus at Stibbards Candlelight Remembering Service. 16th December 2023

This was a first for us! We know Stibbards fairly well as they have arranged a number of funerals of past Leigh Orpheus members and we’ve coordinated with them about singing at those funerals. They are potentially the most straightforward and pleasant undertakers we are associated with. So we've 'done' funerals with Stibbards, but never a 'Remembering Service'.

They’d contacted us a few weeks ago because they wanted a small choir to sing carols to support the audience/congregation at one of their Candlelight Remembering Services. From a straw poll we took at rehearsal it seemed that we could get a sufficiently-large group of carol singers together.

Which is why nine of us pitched up at the Jubilee Suite of the Saxon Hall in Aviation Way on Saturday, 16th December. All of us in the correct uniform; all of us wearing our Leigh Orpheus outdoor jackets. Impressively smart and coordinated. We’d originally expected more choir members to be there but a range of circumstances meant that some weren’t able to get along. Oh well, work with what we’ve got! And we worked well together. After all, we were singing in unison so balance of sections wasn’t as important as it would otherwise have been.

They were providing an accompanist and keyboard – which turned out to be an electronic piano. A quick play with the piano to get it sounding more ‘Christmas Carols’ and less ‘Honky Tonk’ and we did a brief sound check. (note some of the rows of unlit tealights on the left which will be lit during the service).

The temporary, assistant, part time, deputy MD for the next few minutes commented that the volume was good but the presentation could be less ‘football ground’ and more ‘quality with meaning’. What do you know? The guys responded and it sounded good.

We re-ordered into a more compact group. Looked better and potentially sounded better.

Probably all of us, certainly the Concert Manager, were surprised at the number of seats ready for the audience/congregation. The Jubilee Suite was full. Stibbards said that they were expecting 250. OMG!! Nine of us are going to be singing to a huge audience - if they all turned up. Maybe Stibbards were being over-optimistic. Hopefully the audience would join in. We practiced looking smart.

The event was due to start at 6.00pm. At 5.40 pm a few groups of people were occupying seats randomly across the Jubilee Suite. Maybe that number of seats had been unnecessary. The lights were dimmed and tea lights glimmered along the aisles.  By 5.59 pm practically all of the seats were full. At 6.04 they were setting out more seats. This was an audience size we’d love to have at all of our performances!

The service started. First an introduction from Stibbards, talking about bereavement and grief, assuring everyone present that their memories and experiences would all be different and they could express emotions in ways that were best for them, and assuring them that they were in a safe place.

                                                       

The Celebrant, Jonathan, then took over to take the service. He mused on his own experiences while at the same time we looked at our Orders of Service and noted that as soon as he finished we’d be on!

He finished and we were on! ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. Several of us looked around to see if anyone else was joining in, singing the carols. They weren’t! We were on our own. Fair to say that it was working ok with our until-now unknown accompanist and we made a pretty decent job of that first carol. We’d planned that the ‘How Silently’ verse would be sung at a reduced level. Not sure that was noticeable.

The service continued and it wasn’t long before we were on again. ‘Silent Night’. We were working well. Thankfully we all realised that the words on the Details, which Neil had copied from the draft order of Service and which were easier to read in the dim light, weren’t the same as those on the Order of Service which everyone was looking at as we sang! We squinted at the Order of Service in the dim light. But we're sure Jan would have been pleased to see that we didn't hide our heads in our folders! We sang out!

This Service was unknown territory for us. We’d all been at funerals where there would be one set of bereaved families expressing their emotions. Here there were lots of them. After a reading there was the most significant part of the service - The Roll Of Remembrance - where names of the bereaved were read out and those who wanted could come forward to light one of the tea lights at the front. A constant stream of people, for possibly five minutes, came forward to light tealights. Some came up several times. Many passed us on the way back to their seats. Many were sobbing, in tears or obviously trying to hold them back. Made it tough for us watching them. Probably not an experience we’d expected. Eventually the ‘lighting’ came to an end with any unlit tealights being lit in memory of those not represented (or was it just to give the most impressive visual effect?!)

Further readings and then the final carol ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. Again, we were on our own (apart from the accompanist). But we sailed through the verses and the refrains like true pros.

Then the service was over.

Everyone was invited to refreshments in the next room. Most of us decided to give them a miss and those who thought they’d go for it saw the queue then decided to give them a miss and go home to watch ‘Strictly’. The Stibbards’ organiser thanked us. Several members of the audience/congregation commented that they enjoyed our singing. It occurred to us that if it hadn’t been for the reason people were there, we potentially had a brilliant recruitment opportunity – men left alone looking for something new to do now that their partner was gone.

Finally, a quick discussion with Stibbards about how we might be involved in the same event next year. Watch this space.

 

 

 

The Leigh Orpheus Christmas Social. Friday, 15th December.

It seems to have become a tradition! For our last rehearsal of the season, we invite partners, friends and those who have supported us throughout the year, to an informal evening of audience carols, some of our best Christmas pieces, input from our unofficial LOMVC Chaplin Rev Canon David Tudor and comments from our LOMVC Chairman, this year Sam Coley.

With the success of our performances at the Victoria Shopping Centre last Sunday still fresh in our minds, this evening we got sorted in our places on stage pretty well, even with a few late arrivals.

Here's the programme which the audience could see on the screen behind our heads. We had to rely on the Details which had been on the website, attached to weekly emails and available in two sizes of hard copy; some of us had the most recent version!

Then we were off, singing the first verse of 'Once in Royal David's City' and with the audience joining in for the next two verses. It went well.

Then our opportunity to sing some of our best pieces - 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' (Dave and Ian doing solos), 'Angels', 'Torches' and 'Away in a Manger'. Jan looked pleased as she sparkled in her sparkly purple jumper. (talking of Angels - Chris Jenkins - back row - seems to have a halo! Well, being the choir's Librarian is rather special!)

Next, Rev Canon David Tudor. We know David well having been at funerals at which he's officiated and sung at his church on Canvey. David reminded us that  it was, in fact, our 25-year anniversary of us singing for him.

We were reminded of the problems in the world we currently live in. But then David moved on to his recent research that prcatically all religions celebrate similar events at this time of year. It's appropriate for us to wish people "Happy Holidays" (= Happy Holy Days).

Another set from LOMVC - 'This Nearly Was Mine', 'Wellerman' (another Dave solo), and 'You Raise Me Up'. Jan continued to look pleased. Phew!

We all, audience and Choir, then Walked in a Winter Wonderland before our next set - 'O Men From the Fields' (Dave did us proud again with another solo) and 'Glory To Thee My God This Night' (we finally seem to have cracked it!).

Next, it was Sam's turn. Having thanked everyone who had made the year's events possible Sam couldn't resist emulating his forebears' Mehodist Preachers' sermons for a short while.

A final audience-participation carol, 'We Three Kings' and at last it was time for us to don our Santa Hats and other accesories.

'Jingle Bells', 'Santa Claus is coming to Town' and 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas'. We really didn't look as serious as in the previous picture (well, some of us didn't!).

Finally, a blessing from Rev Canon David and the 'concert' part of the evening came to and end.

But not the celebrations! Off we all went to George's Hall to chat with friends and to enjoy non-alcoholic mulled wine and the sumptuous spread of goodies Pam, Sue and Val had prepared.

What a lovely way to end our rehearsals for the year!

Photos: Les.

The Leigh Orpheus at the Victoria Shopping Centre, Sunday, 10th December.

At Christmas we’ve sung at the Eastgate Centre in Basildon, and more recently at The Royals Shopping Centre in Southend. We were conned into singing outside, after the indoor Royals experience, on one occasion. That convinced us never to do that again.

An invitation to sing INSIDE the Victoria Shopping Centre gave us the opportunity to show that we are out and about in the public domain and to raise money for a worthy charity.

The Victoria Shopping Centre did some promotion that didn’t mention us, and some that did!

However, promotion or no promotion, we were committed to the event. On the allotted day several of us made very early starts in order to get the keyboard, amplifier, speakers etc in place on time. In doing so we got to see behind the scenes of the Shopping Centre, carrying the equipment from the loading bay up a goods lift (which trapped us inside at one point!) and through the sawdust, dirt and dust of a vacant shop to where we were to perform in front of the Christmas Tree.

We looked very good with almost 100% adherence to the uniform requirements and Neil had us lined up for a few pictures, one of which received several positive comments when we posted it on Facebook (“What a lovely photo of the boys. Such a great thing they do with all their fundraising”).

Then we were off on the first of several sets.

Some stopped and listened; some passed by on the other side. Dave and Jan did a fine job!

 

 

We’d decided that we’d collect for Prostate Cancer UK, and had the wording on our collection buckets approved by the charity.

Pam and Sue also did a brilliant job, collecting donations from the public and a very generous donation from a choir member.

After our first set, time for a break and the opportunity to get a coffee. Somehow Neil had managed to negotiate a 15% discount for us from Esquires, located just beside where we were performing.

Then back for another set. Dave continued conducting and thankfully we had the advantage of Jan accompanying becaue Kay wasn't available.

Dave was kept busy - not only conducting but also singing the 'Wellerman' solo!

One of our reasons for being there was to promote the Leigh Orpheus in the hope that we might attract new members.

And maybe we have.

Nice to see Les there too. Some of these pics were taken by Les.

There was an enthusiastic, friendly vibe within the choir.

Our next coffee break was a bit of a disaster for those who used Esquires. We had a 25 minute break but we only learned after we’d ordered that there would be a delay of 20 minutes for our orders to be brought to us.

Back for more singing

Then our last break when some of us caught up with the coffee and cake we’d ordered in the previous break. There was the opportunity to sing to the staff of Esquires to thank them for the discount. They chose ‘Wellerman’, we crowded round the outside and sang to them. Rather more people than throughout the whole morning clapped along enthusiastically.

Pam and Sue continued to rattle their buckets subtly (bucket-rattling is not allowed!) and the donations kept being put through the slots in the buckets. The final total of the donations was a little short of £200. Not bad for a morning’s singing.

Then it was our final set. Then it was the end – somewhat forced up on us by the next group, Sweet Charity, arriving and insisting that they should start at 2pm. We were to finish at 2pm

Oh well, We finished promptly and in double-quick time our gear was moved out of the way.

It might then have been all over, but Neil had the idea that a pic on the escalator would be good. It sort-of worked.

Apparently Neil thinks, as we are getting so good at getting into place smartly, that we can do better next year. He thinks we can enter down the escalator, already singing, and take our places in rows in front of the Christmas tree. We’ll have to see about that!

We think our appearance there was probably best described by another Facebook post: Just brilliant - what a start to the Christmas season.

Nice to get a Thank You letter from Prostate Cancer UK: 

 

 

Photos: Les and Neil

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”

Photos: Les and Neil

 

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.

More applause.

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 End                      

      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)

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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

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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.

Welcome, chaps!

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!

 

 
 
 
 

The LOMVC Summer Concert 2022. In support of Prost8. 9th July 2022.

What could be more appropriate as a fund-raiser by a group of men, many of a ‘certain age’, than a concert to raise funds for a Prostate Cancer research charity. Especially as Prost8 was one of our late President Sir David Amess’s chosen charities.

A full-scale concert with soloists, an interval, and a wide range of Leigh Orpheus pieces.

The concert included solos from our choir members Ron Circus, David Smith and Harry Rowson. Jane and accompanist Kay treated us all to a piano duet and we sang eleven numbers which included the well known Charles Aznavour’s “She”, Queen’s “We are The Champions”, the African song “Siyahambe” and concluded with the pacy and rousing “Rhythm of Life”.

Did the audience join in with ‘We are the Champions’? They certainly did!

During the evening, as a token of our appreciation for his year’s of service to the Leigh Orpheus, the incoming Chairman Sam Coley presented the outgoing Chairman Mick Jacks with the Lifetime Member Award.

And we raised £560 for Prost8!

Concert for Ukraine. 4th April 2022

The Leigh Orpheus has a strong tradition of arranging impromptu concerts in support of national and international emergencies.

This concert was another example, following the news that Russia had taken military action against Ukraine and many in Ukraine were suffering.

All impromptu, arranged at short notice, concerts are a challenge. This one even more so as the Concert Manager was over 200 miles away and with very restricted internet access.

Nevertheless, especially with the friendly cooperation of our printers, flyers and posters were produced and distributed and promotion was underway. A free concert with no tickets is always a bit if a gamble. Will anyone turn up? Will too many people turn up? If it’s a free concert will the audience be free-loaders or will they give generous donations as they leave?

Well, as it turned out audience numbers were good, as were donations made at the end of the concert.

Maybe a one-hour concert with no interval is easier for audience members to fit into their TV-watching schedule on a Saturday evening?

Twelve well-known pieces from the Leigh Orpheus with the audience experience being enhanced (and heart strings plucked) by an excellent video which backed ‘You Raise Me Up’. And appropriately an angel watched over the Leigh Orpheus as they sang ‘Angels Watching Over Me’.

He Built This City. February 13th 2022.

This concert was to be a tribute to Sir David Amess, performed by a wide range of local groups and starring Lee Meade.

Possibly the strongest memory of many Leigh Orpheus members will be of the frustrating rehearsal arrangements and times. Due to a lack of organisers/marshals timings went awry, as did arrangements for seating. But in true Leigh Orpheus style we remained patient and flexible, and eventually, very very late, got on stage for our rehearsal, although not without incident. Poor Roy Beatles had a nasty fall, potentially due to poor lighting and unclear staging edges.

The concert progressed well and we formed up in one of the assembly areas before it was the Leigh Orpheus’s turn to go onstage. A quick chat with Lee Meade as we waited and then we were on.

Two pieces from us. ’Gwahoddiad’ which went down well, followed by ‘Song of the Jolly Roger’. With accessories, of course.

Some said we had a standing ovation! Nice!

Would we do it again? Not sure. As one of Sir David Amess’s charities, with him having been our President for many years, it felt like our presence was minimised in favour of others with less claim. But of course it was good to remind other local musicians and their followers in the audience that we are alive and kicking (well maybe not high-kicking!) and therefore available to any new members who might be interested.

However, in terms of fund-raising the concert worked well with the following donations being made: Music Man Project – £6K; Prost8 – £6K; Dame Vera Lynn Memorial – £6K; Endometriosis – £3.5K; Dogs Trust – £3.5K.

Our President, SDir David Amess’s Funeral. Tuesday, 23rd November 2021

A sense of disbelief that it could be possible was the reaction of many when national news at lunchtime on Friday 21st October reported that an MP in the Southend area had been stabbed. Then immense sorrow as it was revealed that the MP was our President Sir David Amess and that Sir David had died as a result of the stab wounds inflicted on him.

The decision was taken that our regular Friday evening rehearsal would go ahead and as we do on sad occasions such as the loss of one of our own, we sang Gwahoddiad.

A suggestion that we would be very willing to sing at Sir David’s funeral at Westminster Cathedral was gratefully accepted by the authorities there and various visits and a tranche of emails eventually led to a group of 40 of us meeting on Tuesday, 23rd November at Kirby’s Coach Depot to leave at 5.40 am to travel to central London. Such was the sensitivity around security that we’d all needed to be checked by the National Security Service and there were conditions about what we could take (e.g. only plastic water bottles and no sandwiches wrapped in aluminium foil!).

Our coach driver thought we’d arrive in plenty of time (and we needed to allow sufficient time to navigate local road closures related to the Funeral). In fact, due to heavy traffic into London, we arrived at the ‘back door’ of Westminster Cathedral with only a few minutes to spare. Here’s the front and main entrance to the Cathedral

And here’s the very discrete entrance we used

First to the Crypt Chapel, our base for our time there, and a bit of a warm up.

Then, at 8.30 am, a rehearsal with the Cathedral’s Assistant organist in The Apse, a raised area behind the High Alter, designed so that choral music sung there would be projected out into all areas of the huge Cathedral. It soon became obvious what a responsibility we had taken on. Were some of us very nervous? Yes we were! But the rehearsal went fairly well, we were relieved that the Organist was understanding and accepting of Jan’s requests.

Some down time, then the moment had come. We mounted the steps to The Apse and took our seats. We were in the presence of the good and the great – the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Cabinet Members and other MPs, the Houses of Parliament Speakers, Archbishop Cardinal Vincent Nichols who would lead the ceremony, priests from the Roman Catholic diaspora and others, too many to mention. Immediately before the service there was singing by members of the local Music Man project. Then there was a hush and the service started. We’d rehearsed at our Friday rehearsals, we’d rehearsed at the Cathedral, but would 40 of us be able to rise to the occasion and ensure that our tribute to our late President was appreciated by the 2,000-strong congregation? The pressure was on. Nervous glances were exchanged.

Eventually our time came. The organ played and we put our hearts into the singing of ‘Gwahoddiad’. Later in the service into ‘Praise My Soul’. We also supported the congregational singing of ‘Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise’, ‘Sweet Sacrament Divine’ and ‘Hail, Queen of Heaven’.

It was a shame that the acoustics in the Cathedral were very good at projecting sound into the body of the Cathedral but not at receiving sound from the Cathedral. So much of the service was observed but not heard.

Skip to 1:11 to see a breid shot of us in action and our Media Team (mentioned below) being interviewed for ITV News.

Finally the service was over. For most of the choir time to go back to our base, collect belongings and return to the coach. For four members of our Media Team, time to talk with the Meeja. Thanks to their skilful contributions the Leigh Orpheus was on ITV National and local news and we were included in an article in The Independent.

Several members of the Leigh Orpheus noted that there was some irony that it was such a profoundly sad set of circumstances that had led to the Leigh Orpheus getting the best publicity that it was ever likely to receive.

The time at the Cathedral wasn’t quite over. The Cathedral’s principal organist came to tell us that he had been very impressed by our appropriate and skilled singing. Praise indeed! And someone who must have been very important judging by the opulence of his vestments, stopped one of us to explain how The Apse and the Leigh Orpheus together had this morning demonstrated what the Apse was originally designed for – to project the sound of men’s voices into all of the Cathedral. We’d cracked it!

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