On the Water. Our joint concert at the Mill Hall with Essex Concert Orchestra. April 2023.

The theme ‘On the Water’ allowed the Conductor of the Essex Concert Orchestra and the Musical Director of the Leigh Orpheus to impress the audience with a selection of timeless themes and songs depicting water and the sea. Clearly many were anticipating the success of this concert, it being so popular that extra seating had to be provided for the capacity audience.

Essex Concert Orchestra set the tone of the evening, starting the concert with the Overture and Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music, and following that with the Adagio and Dance of the Pirates from Khachaturian’s Spartacus Suite, recognised by many as the music associated with the BBC television drama ‘The Onedin Line’.

Next, another real treat, when young musicians from SEYSO, the South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra, showcased their talents with what was described in the programme as ‘A Splash of Music’. The audience were impressed.

Then the turn of the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir who started with the spiritual ‘Wade in the Water’, following that with the lovely, unaccompanied, ‘Calm is the Sea’, then the sea shanty ‘The Wellerman’. Next came ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’. Not immediately associated with water or the sea until LOMVC’s MD encouraged audience members to imagine themselves dancing to this on a cruise liner! Members of the audience didn’t dance but, like members of the choir, they moved to the beat!

Following that, to end the first half of the concert, a joint item between Essex Concert Orchestra and the Leigh Orpheus. Beginning with ‘The Policeman’s Song’ with ECO soloist John Culley and followed by the ‘Chorus of the Pirates’ from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’. The audience loved it.

Time for the interval, refreshments, and the opportunity for friends to meet up and catch up. Already comments about the quality of the evening’s performances were being made.

The second half of the concert was again started by Essex Concert Orchestra, continuing that ‘Pirate’ theme by playing highlights from Hans Zimmer’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.

Then the turn of the Leigh Orpheus singing ‘Pokarakare Ana’, a song about a young girl swimming across a lake to her forbidden lover and sung by the choir in word-perfect Māori (!). Members of the audience could then be forgiven for wondering if it was just tea and coffee that LOMVC members had been drinking when they sang ‘What Shall we do With the Drunken Sailor?’, such was the swaying that went on towards the end.

Remaining with a sea-going genre, when the LOMVC MD turned round to conduct the next piece, ‘Song of the Jolly Roger’, the choir had fully embraced the ‘Pirates’ theme accessorising their bright uniforms with appropriate additions.

Finally an impressive end to the evening’s concert, hugely enjoyed by audience members and performer alike, with the orchestra and choir joining together again, last night of the Proms style, with excerpts from Henry Wood’s ‘Fantasia on British Sea Songs’. Who doesn’t enjoy hearing the orchestra showing just how fast they can play ‘The Hornpipe’? And who can’t resist waving a patriotic flag or tooting an out-of-time and out-of-tune horn during the playing and singing of ‘Rule Britannia’?!


A truly delightful evening loaded with popular music delivered to a high standard. And although the amount is not yet confirmed, proceeds from this concert allowing a donation to be made to the RNLI.