As we approach the end of 2018 and reflect on another fabulous year of Surrey Music, it is really pleasing to see that, once again, as a society we have been consistently active, with community performances as well as major fundraising concerts taking place throughout the year. And when we’ve not been performing, we’ve been learning new music – no less than 39 songs introduced this year! Not only has it been a whole load of fun, but we’ve helped to raise in excess of £8400 for local charities.
Elmbridge Ladies Choir in the meantime were busy learning new songs for their first major concert of the year – ‘Life is a Song!’ – a joint concert with Elmbridge Choir at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford. Performing for the first time in Guildford as part of Guildford Music Festival and before an audience of 400, the concert was a massive success raising £2000 for ‘Home-Start Guildford’. Importantly, this was the first major opportunity for Chris Parker to fully direct Elmbridge Ladies Choir in a large concert, the success of which prompted Surrey Music’s founder, Cliff, to remark ‘The Ladies Choir was beyond superb....hand on heart, one of the best performances I have ever had the pleasure of hearing... well done, and huge congratulations!’ The Mayor of Guildford was equally appreciative of the concert, tweeting, ‘Fab fab fab performance...not to be missed...highly recommended!’
During the summer, Elmbridge Ladies Choir took their singing talents out to the community and performed at three local events - Horsley Arts Festival, Pyrford and Wisley Flower Show and the inaugural ‘Surrey Showcase’ hosted by Nomad Theatre in association with Brooklands Radio. Overcoming various difficulties associated with staging performances outside – unbearable heat, unrelenting sun, lack of shade, music backing track hiccups – the ladies rose to the challenge with humour and professionalism, proudly flying the flag for Surrey Music.
And then, during one of the longest, hottest summers on record, the choirs turned their attention to Christmas!! Yes, while the country was basking (baking?) in sweltering heat, we were singing of snow and Christmas trees and babies in mangers! (There is nothing like preparation...!) However, as usual our Christmas concert was not only the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, it was also the highlight and the most important time of the year – in fact the ‘Perfect Christmas Night’! Another new venue for us – Christ Church, Woking – and in a Surrey Music first, we had the absolute honour and pleasure of performing with tribute act ‘Elite Elton’. Both choirs performed stupendously, and by the end of the evening the church was buzzing as ‘Elton’ had both choir and audience out of their seats and dancing in the aisles! Another fantastic fundraising result too, as we raised £1800 for ‘York Road Project’.
Our last outing of the year was on a much smaller scale, but no less important as we were asked to support local charity ‘Harrison’s Fund’ at their annual fundraising carol concert. Around 40 of our members were honoured to lead the singing at the event which raised more than £1000.
Another amazing year ended as usual with in-house Christmas sing-alongs and celebrations. Surrey Music’s continued success is down to the enthusiasm and commitment of our members, and the dedication and hard work of our Musical Directors (Cliff van Tonder and Christine Parker) our Deputy Musical Directors (Anita Auch and Liz Walters) and our Management Board who plan and prepare our concerts and publicity, look after our members and organise our very important social events, which this year have included several walks, coffee mornings, a quiz night and a picnic at Painshill Park! Huge thanks to all of them.
Each year we build on our success, and each year we continue to thrive and grow in the community. Once again we have forged new links and built relationships with many charities and organisations; we’ve performed in front of new audiences as well as our long-standing supporters; we’ve performed before the Mayors of Woking, Guildford, Elmbridge and other local Boroughs; we’ve appeared on local radio and featured in local newspapers and magazines; we’ve raised funds for Oasis, Home-Start, York Road Project and Harrison’s Fund; and we are delighted to be associated with and supporting ‘Pride in Surrey’ as they prepare for their first ever Pride festival in Woking on August 10th.
In a year of achievement for us all, a special mention must go to two very important people without whom the society simply would not exist. We are delighted that our Honorary President, Nigel Scott, a founder member of the society whose dedication has been tantamount to our success, was awarded an Elmbridge Volunteer Long Service Award in October. And, just a few weeks ago, we were thrilled to hear the exciting news that our Founder and MD, Cliff van Tonder, is to be honoured with a British Citizen Award for Services to the Arts. Very well-deserved awards indeed.
Looking ahead, we are so excited that next year marks the 10th Anniversary of Elmbridge Ladies Choir, so expect celebrations a-plenty! Plans are already underway for concerts in early May, the end of June, a possible festival appearance in August, and of course our Christmas extravaganza! As always, watch this space for more details.
Thank you all for your continued support this year, and we wish you and your families and friends a very happy, healthy and musical 2019.