The Leigh Orpheus concert management and music teams pulled out all the stops to arrange a fund raising concert at very short notice. The concert was held on Friday 24th February at the Salvation Army Temple in Hadleigh. Public response was pleasing with a good sized audience. Tickets were free and the audience were given the opportunity to make a donation on leaving.
The concert opened with Verdi's "Speed Your Journey" an operatic chorus, especially appropriate on this occasion as it is often regarded as a lament for the dispossessed.
Equally appropriate was the next song, the much recorded "Unchained Melody", the best known recording being that by the Righteous Brothers. The song deals with the emotions of separation. The first set finished with "Siyahambe" written and sung in Zulu.
Harry Rowson, from the bass section of the choir, gave a powerful rendition of ‘Ständchen’ which loosely translates as ‘Serenade’. It was written by Franz Schubert as one of the Lieder in his series, ‘Schwanengesang’ or Swansong. They were only published after his death in 1828 at the age of 31. Lieder are really not solos but duets with the pianist having equal prominence and precedence with the voice.
The second set was a special moment of reflection upon the disaster and its effects upon the peoples of Eastern Turkey and Syria. Three songs were sung in quick succession with the audience asked not to applaud in order to create a sensitive atmosphere. The set opened with "Close Thine Eyes" the words of which go back to the 17th century, they are sometimes attributed to King Charles 1 prior to his forthcoming execution. This slow, mournful, unaccompanied arrangement perfectly set the scene for reflection. This was followed by "You Raise me Up" which expresses the hope that people's inner spirituality will help them through the worst of times. Whilst the choir sang the audience could watch a moving video of the effects of the earthquake. The set ended with "Gwahoddiad" the hymn, sung in Welsh, that the LOMVC often turn to in times of sadness.
It was now time to change the mood with The Choir's musical director Jan Walker and accompanist Kay Duell playing a cheerful piano duet.
With everyone now a little more relaxed the choir was joined on stage by some prospective new members for the next set. The first song was the New Zealand whaling shanty "The Wellerman", a first public performance of this piece by the LOMVC. Next was a medley of gospel songs "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "When The Saints", sung first by the choir and then with audience participation. The nautical theme was then continued with "The Saucy Arethusa", well known from The Last Night of The Proms.
Tenor Ron Circus then took us to the world of musical theatre. Ron performed the song “On the Street Where you Live” from the musical “My Fair Lady” in which he plays the part of Freddy Eynsford-Hill, who falls in love with Eliza Doolittle. The song begins with Freddy reminiscing how he met her, whilst standing at the door of the house where she was staying. The maid asks if he wants to come in and wait while they have tea but Freddy says "no…I’d want to drink in the street where she lives”
The concluding set began with the fast and tongue twisting "Rhythm of Life" from the musical Sweet Charity and directed by Dave Smith, which was followed by Queen's "We are the Champions" with the choir and audience combining for the customary arm waving in the final chorus.
On departing the audience generously donated £1,800 to the Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund.