Saturday 7 December 2013 7.30 p.m - "Christmas Capers" - Epsom Playhouse: Now was certainly the time of the year for carolling and holiday cheer as, hot on the heels of Cobham at Christmas where, although it was cold outside, we sang with great delight, and only a week later here we were putting on some more seasonal sparkle and festive frolics but this time the welcome was so nice and warm inside the Epsom Playhouse.
It was an ambitious venture to feature the Elmbridge Young Musicians, the Ladies Choir, the Big Band and the Elmbridge Mixed Choir in two separate concerts on the same day – what a logistical nightmare it must have been for those hard-working invisible people behind the scenes to organise it – and not only that, now was not the time to diet as it was decided that feasting their ears with heavenly music was not enough for our audiences - so we provided them with cheese and wine and they grabbed their forks and dived right in – there was enough to feed the Navy!
The Young Musicians set the standard high by opening the proceedings at 4 pm with an exciting selection of Christmassy music played with amazing professionalism followed, hot on their heels, by the sparkling Ladies Choir singing, as ever, with enthusiasm and pizzazz. Meanwhile, back in the dressing rooms (and some in the bar!) the Mixed Choir and Big Band were assembling ready for their sound checks and performances commencing at 7.30 p.m.
The theatre looked very pretty decked with strings of fairy lights but the Big Band went even further by decking it with bones and saxes! They were honoured to have the well-known trombonist, Bill Geldard, as their MD. He had featured in many famous big bands with Ted Heath, Johnny Dankworth, Geraldo and Mantovani before forming his own big band so Elmbridge Big Band was a new challenge for him! Their repertoire of seven numbers featured two excellent regular accomplished soloists – Matt and Camille. They vacated the stage as they were going home for Christmas whilst the 107 members of the Mixed Choir crept around backstage and clambered up the steeply banked staging.
Space to stand seemed to be at a premium but we all managed to squeeze in somewhere, even if it wasn’t where we had planned in rehearsal! Our repertoire was a repetition of our performance at Cobham at Christmas with some additions. Christmas Hallelu had a very South African feel and rhythm and as the inspirational Nelson Mandela had sadly passed away only two days previously, Cliff dedicated this number to him. And then it seemed quite right that we should sing with great delight the merry melodies and charming harmonies of another inspirational person – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – but whatever happened to the spirit of giving at Christmas? This was all about me me me – and what you’ll bring me, what you’ll bring me and not about you you you and what should I bring you!
However, after dashing through the song and emphasising that it was the season to be happy happy now we hoped that we had redeemed ourselves by wishing everybody a very very merry Christmas and a very very happy New Year over and over and over again! Continuing on the theme of the commercialisation of Christmas, we were treated to a short extract from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and then went on to Welcome Christmas with a fah who forraze and dah who doraze – whatever that might mean!
We were saving the best until last! Our final number, O Holy Night, featured, as soloist, the Scottish soprano Fiona Cameron-Shelfer. She has won countless awards throughout Europe and performed with many leading orchestras so we were highly honoured to have her perform with us. So with her powerful voice and the angel voices of the choir in full flow we produced a new and glorious sound to end a night divine and, judging by the applause, the audience, who included many local dignitaries, agreed! John Borthwick was the MC throughout the evening and it was hoped that, in addition to our providing an entertaining and varied evening for the audience, our Music Grants Scheme would benefit from the concerts and from the sale of some Christmas CDs made by Cliff’s daughter and friends.
So, apart from the de-rig by the once again unseen helpers, there was nothing else left to do but to adjourn to the melee in the foyer to fill up the plates with cheeses and dips. Yum yum yum!
The Young Musicians played: Christmas Fantasy for Jazz Band, Twenty Carols in 2 Minutes,Little Donkey,Pachelbel's Christmas, Good Enough for Him, Christmas Swings and (The) Herald Angel Swing
The Ladies sang: Singin’ In The Rain; Simple Gifts; Hold On; To Make You Feel My Love; Girls Gone ABBA; Hot Chocolate; Jingle Bell Rock; Beautiful December; Santa Baby; The First Nowell; Go Tell It On The Mountain (Guest Solist: Cathi Penfold); We Need a Little Christmas
The Big Band played (Guest Conductor: Bill Geldard): Deck The Hall With Bones And Saxes; Let It Snow; Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Warm This Winter; Santa Baby; I’ll Be Home For Christmas
The Mixed Choir sang: Jolly Jingle Christmas Medley; Baby It’s Cold Outside; Christmas Hallelu; An Elvis Christmas; Merry Christmas Mozart; No Time To Diet; Welcome Christmas; Let It Be Christmas; When A Child Is Born; Last Christmas; Happy Christmas (War Is Over); Mistletoe And Wine; O Holy Night (Guest Soloist:Fiona Cameron).