The only rehearsal of all the singers two weeks before the concert at the Tabor Academy in Braintree heralded the main event at the Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliffe on Sea. Assembling and organising 200 singers was no mean feat. Well done to all those in Leigh Orpheus and Braintree Male Voice Choir who made all the arrangements.
“Singing For Life” was a major charity concert where the Leigh Orpheus was joined by the Braintree, St Edmundsbury and Thurrock Male Voice Choirs and the Elliott Weight Trio, with TV weatherman Francis Wilson as compère. What a treat on a winter’s afternoon! A major concert, aimed at making as much money as possible for Prostate Cancer UK, with an audience of about 1000.
Under the direction of their MD Janet Walker and with Jacky Atkinson accompanying, eighty members of the Leigh Orpheus started the concert with “Gwahoddiad”. They followed that with “Flying Free”, accompanied on the flute by Evan Davis, and “When The Saints Go Marching In” (the end of which always catches the audiences out!). Then “She” again with flute accompaniment and finally with the choir members appropriately equipped with pirate accessories, “The Song Of The Jolly Roger”.”
Next Braintree Male Voice Choir, conducted by David Wood accompanied by Sue Edwards, sang five pieces: “Down By The Sally Gardens”, “Nessun Dorma”, ” What A Wonderful World”, “Unchained Melody” and finally “I Write The Songs” which had been specially arranged for their 40th anniversary in 2011.
To end the first half of the concert, St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir took to the stage, directed by Mark Jefferson accompanied by Calvin Goymer. They started with “Aberystwyth” followed by “Sure On This Shining Night”, “Angels” and finally “Mustang Sally”.
The interval gave a chance for the choirs and audience to take a break and for our dignitaries who had kindly joined us for the concert, to be hosted for their refreshments by the Leigh Orpheus’s President, Sir David Amess.
The second half of the concert involved all the performers from the four choirs, with the men from Thurrock Male Voice Choir joining the three that had performed in the first half. About 200 men were somehow fitted onto the stage.
What could be a more appropriate start for the Mass Choir than “Let All Men Sing”? This was followed by “Speed Your Journey” and “Softly As I a Leave You”. Mark Jefferson then conducted “My Lord What A Morning” with Calvin Goymer. Jan Walker returned to conduct “Morte Christe” before the choir took a break. The Elliott Weight Trio came on stage to change the mood and perform three jazz pieces.
Another major change of style followed as the Mass Choir started the next set with Faust’s “Soldier’s Chorus”, followed by “Every Time I Feel The Spirit” and” Some Enchanted Evening”, conducted by Braintree’s David Wood accompanied by Sue Edwards.
Then it was time for the Mass Choir’s final set. They sang ‘Rhythm Of Life’ skilfully accompanied on the piano, four-handed, by Mark Jefferson and Calvin Goymer and the final piece on the programme “With A Voice Of Singing” and it’s rousing “Hallelujah” ended the show.
The concert had been staged to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK and Ian Adamson, representing the charity, talked to the audience about the work of this important charity – especially important to many of the men on the stage, and in the audience of course.
Compere Francis Wilson took to the microphone to undertake the important task of the thanks. Firstly to the three accompanists, including Jacky Atkinson who had not only accompanied the Leigh Orpheus in the first half of the concert but had also accompanied the majority of the pieces in the second half. Then the Braintree and St Edmundsbury Musical Directors, Mark Jefferson and David Wood, and finally, to even greater applause, the Leigh Orpheus’s Musical Director, who had conducted the majority of the concert, Janet Walker.
Francis had done a fine job for us (as it turned out, outside of his comfort zone of cameras and auto cues) and the Leigh Orpheus’s Chairman, Martin Wood, presented Francis with a gift to thank him for his support for the cause and excellent compering.
The audience weren’t going home without hearing more and there was, luckily one more piece to come – again, for choir members, so appropriate – “What Would I Do Without My Music”.
The concert was a huge success with many saying that they would have liked it to have gone on for much longer. But, there was an additional success to come! As they left, our very generous audience put not only loose change, but £5, £10, and £20 notes into the buckets LOMVC’s had at the ready. The amount raised from this bucket collection? An amazing £1453!! This will be added to the money already previously raised by Leigh Orpheus, along with the proceeds of the concert itself. That promises to be an impressive sum of money to be sent to Prostate UK for it’s important work.
Many thanks to everyone who in any way helped to make this concert such a huge success, not forgetting the ladies of BMVC, Sue, Beryl, Jenny and Jean who organised the refreshments on the day for so many thirsty singers.
(This is an edited version of the report supplied by Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir for which we thank them)
Photography by Sue Horsman
Comments from BMVC members
“It was a great and exciting experience to sing in such a place like the Cliffs Pavilion with so many singers – it was exhilarating!
“Excellent concert yesterday. The choir whilst relatively small particularly on such a huge stage acquitted themselves well and our songs were really enjoyed by the audience. Nessun Dorma attracted particularly rapturous applause with someone even crying out Bravo!”
“Went very well. Most noticeable was our singing quality and our choice of moving and passionate pieces.”
“A long day but worth it for a great evening’s performance”