Turkey/Syria Earthquake Appeal Concert. Friday, 24th February 2023

A tragedy of unbelievable scale. On February 6th 2023 a powerful earthquake hit South East Turkey and the northwest region of war-torn Syria, leaving millions of people in urgent need of basic necessities like shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and medicines.

The Leigh Orpheus has a strong tradition of raising funds to support those affected by major crises such as these and, a Committee decision having been made, we set to enthusiastically to stage a fund-raising concert. Being able to secure a venue, and have our MD Jan and accompanist Kay available on the same date would be unlikely at short notice. But we knew that venue, MD and accompanist were all available on Friday, 24th February as we’d all be at rehearsal together. And we wouldn’t have to pay a fee to hire a venue. We asked the Salvation Army if we could hold a concert, instead of our rehearsal, on Friday 24th February and they agreed. Just one hour. No interval. Rehearsal after the concert. On a previous occasion, many years ago, we planned a very similar event and earned the unending and ongoing, until he left, criticism of the person responsible for Temple bookings, by asking if the Table Tennis Club needed their room when we wanted to have a concert on a Friday. This time the Table Tennis guys had been told by the SA in advance that we might make such a request. Having asked their members they agreed to vacate their space for the duration of the concert. What a lovely group they are!

Within one week we’d got all of the arrangements in place, arranged for the design and printing of posters and flyers and Jan had a programme planned.

We had just two weeks to get a sufficiently-large audience to attend a free concert and hopefully be prepared to donate generously instead of having to pay for tickets, and in support of a worthy cause.

And to ensure that we were ready with our music we could use much of the material we’d used at the Beat the January Blues concert as well as music we’d be singing at a concert in April. A bonus – this additional concert would allow our potential new members to sing some of the pieces with us.

Not selling tickets in advance is always a bit risky as it is impossible to predict how many will attend. Especially as it is a free event. Too few and it looks like a flop. Too many and we have to turn people away. And they are never happy.

On the night several members arrived early enough to undertake the not-inconsiderable task of getting the necessary choir seats on stage and extra seats into the Worship Area and Table Tennis room. Members prepared to undertake such tasks are so valuable.

We didn’t want to make our new members stand out as they weren’t yet paying subs and entitled to free uniform loan. So, to the dismay of some and the delight of others, it was a simple uniform of black shoes, black trousers, white shirt and bright red bowtie. Useful as until that clarification some existing members thought we had two types of red bowtie!

Not much time for rehearsal, but we managed it

Here’s the programme:

LOMVC              Speed Your Journey

                          Unchained Melody


Solo                   Harry Rowson

LOMVC              Close Thine Eyes

                          You Raise Me Up


Duet                  Jan Walker and Kay Duell

LOMVC             The Wellerman

                         Gospel Medley – Swing Low etc

Saucy Arethusa

Solo                  Ron Circus

LOMVC              Rhythm of Life

                          We are the Champions

Reprise of You Raise Me Up

Sadly, no pics of the concert itself (any volunteers among non-singers to be our Official Photographer?) but a couple more shots while we were rehearsing:

Like the choir, our soloists (Harry and Ron) and our duetists (Jan and Kay) were well-received.

During the singing of ‘You Raise me Up’ a video was shown to audience members. You can view it, with sound track added by clicking here. Its impact on some was profound. Severasl of us held back tears as we saw members of the auduence in tears. Our thanks go to Ron Circus for producing this.

Did audience members give generously? They certainly did! We raised nearly £1,800 for the Turkey~Syria Earthquake Appeal.

It just remained for us to reinstate the Temple, for us to have a regular Friday rehearsal and for the Table Tennis guys to play table tennis. Many loyal Leigh Orpheus members, along with the new guys, mucked in, as did the Table Tennis guy. And things were quickly back to normal. Another RESULT!