12 December 2009 - 6pm - Elmbridge Music Christmas Concert at The Theatre in Leatherhead
This concert was BIG - the first showcase for all involved with Elmbridge Music. With the addition this year of Elmbridge Young Musicians, Elmbridge Ladies Choir and Elmbridge Community Big Band we believe we are now one of the biggest community music-based societies in the UK!
We had a big waiting list for return tickets for this sold-out-well-in-advance concert at this big professional venue (525 seats). And we had big queues outside anxious to get in - some even managed to sneak in whilst nobody was looking before the official ‘doors open'. Once inside the Foyer, the audience were somewhat distracted from the delay in opening the auditorium doors, by the big bold sounds coming from the brass quintet, ‘5 in a Bar', who also played in the Mezz Bar during the Interval. They are a little group related to a member of the Big Band. The big delay to the start of the concert was due to some of the hired staging not being delivered to the theatre on time!
It had been a big challenge for Cliff and his team to get it all together, especially as Cliff had had an operation on his right hand only the previous week. But was this a blessing in disguise? It meant that he had time off work to put his mind to other more important matters - the logistics of this big, ambitious concert. We received detailed Logistics and annex to Logistics well in advance complete with pretty coloured plans of the various stage layouts, dressing rooms, parking etc. Cliff had thought of everything!
There were some things maybe Cliff didn't foresee such as the big battle for the dressing room chairs - the Ladies Choir had none, the Mixed Choir had an adequate supply and, what's more, the Mixed Choir had carpet to sit on and the Ladies had none! Impartial helpers were sent to mediate! There was also the battle of the coat-hangers - only 3 for the whole of the Mixed Choir until a further 16 were found - which was a big help!
At last the patience of the full house was rewarded with a big performance by the little people of the EYM who were newly formed earlier in the year under the direction of Lewis McGuinness and John Starling.
The Mixed Choir were on next - thank goodness for our new silver sparkly scarves, carefully sown by some of the choir members! We were wearing all black and there was no light back stage so it was a case of peering through the darkness and following the flash of light given off by the silver scarf in front! It was a big procession and when we were eventually all in position we sang 6 Christmassy songs including one of our favourites -‘One Candle', during which the professional theatre lighting technicians produced an atmospheric glow and gradually increased the light to fit the words of the song (and to enable us to read our music -yes, we ought to know it by now!).
With so many different types of performance, there was the big task of moving people, instruments and music stands on and off the stage which was done as slickly as possible but slowed down the proceedings somewhat. So between acts we had a virtual host - the voice of Karl Grewar from BBC Radio Surrey whose disembodied voice gave out interesting facts about the performers and jollied the whole proceedings along - and Jaki Walker, a relative of a choir and band member, confidently sang some Yuletide numbers with a big voice.
The big Ladies Choir was on next to sing 4 numbers! Maybe I should re-word that - I mean they are now big in numbers (95 members and with a waiting list). Their sparkly red scarves provided a big splash of colour and they made a big, harmonious sound under the energetic direction of Ramon Davis.
Mulled wine and mince pies were on offer during the interval, efficiently set up by the multi-talented members of the Big Band and served by the equally multi-talented members of the choirs. A few little technical hitches concerning the urns were sent to try us but they didn't deter us and, with the help of some willing theatre staff, all was well in the end. But, as much as they tried, the members of the audience couldn't manage to consume it all and we were left to find good homes for big quantities of wine and mince pies.
After the interval, it was the turn of the Elmbridge Community Big Band which was formed in September of this year - so this was their first public performance. They, too, are big - noises and numbers! They have over 40 registered members and they also now have a waiting list. Thanks to Georgi Bartlett for conducting and guiding them and to Savills for their sponsorship. They played 4 familiar Christmas songs with a big swing!
With a change of tempo the Ladies Choir was on next with 4 more numbers including ‘My Favourite Things', relevant, I suppose, as ‘The Sound of Music' is usually shown on TV at Christmas time?
Talking of TV, thanks to the luxury of having a feed of the stage proceedings to screens in the Mezz Bar, the Mixed Choir, who were not due on stage again until the last performance of the concert, had a nice long sit down watching the Big Band and Ladies Choir perform. We were tempted to switch over to watch ‘Strictly' and 'X-Factor' but the polished performances at Leatherhead Theatre won our votes!
Last, but not least it was the turn of the Mixed Choir to round off the concert with 4 more Xmas songs and then, with a bit of clamouring and squashing up, room was found to squeeze the Ladies Choir on stage as well. A few presentations to show appreciation of the effort put in by certain people were made and the concert was rounded off with the Mass Choirs singing 2 moving and poignant songs. It was a first for Leatherhead Theatre to have such a large choir on stage. The audience, including the Mayor of Elmbridge, who had ventured out of his own Borough into Mole Valley, applauded appreciatively at the end and, perhaps, they would have liked more, but we had no more music and no more time, but it is probably best to leave them wanting more anyway!.
We were already late for the 2 restaurants that we had pre- booked in Leatherhead to which Cliff invited the whole audience to join us! Pity they didn't, as only 108 of the 175 people who had said they would be coming to the meal turned up so we were in big trouble with Piazza Firenze and Estrellas. So those of you who had said you were coming and did not turn up are in big trouble with me as I had to parry the big earfuls from the staff of both restaurants! Nevertheless, they served us efficiently with good food and drink and it was good value for money - a pleasant end to a busy day (for most!).
EYM - Frosty the Snowman; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; Little Donkey; White Christmas
Big Band - Rocking Around the Christmas Tree; Jingle Bell Boogie; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; Big Band Christmas
Mixed Choir - Everywhere Christmas Tonight; Can You Hear the Xmas Bells; Feliz Navidad; O Come Little Children; One Candle; Follow That Star; White Christmas; African Star Carol; Away In A Manger; From A Distance (Christmas Version)
Ladies Choir - Gettin' in the Mood for Christmas; Christmas(Baby Please Come Home); My Favourite Things; The Little Drummer Boy; The Hands of Winter; All Through the Night; Jingle Bell Dash; Santa Baby
Mass Choir - Bethlehem Hallelu; Holy Night, Silent Night