The Festive Choir Sparkles, the Generosity of our 2019 Audiences and a Christmas Present Promise for Charity Volunteers!
Usually, the Christmas Concert at our Mile Cross home base marks the end of the Choir's singing year... ...but not this time as there was still a date in the calendar for a fortnight later for Heralding Christmas in Stalham, too! Our Christmas Spirits in Norwich were undiminished though, as the Singing Men of Phoenix led from the front with the festively familiar, the participatory (where we were joined in song by a jolly audience), the revisited, and the new! Yes, no less than 5 items on the Christmas programme this time were new to the Choir, albeit two had previously been performed from within our number in the past as either a solo or duet.
Most exciting of all is that one of the first half pieces was a World Premiere Performance ! Yes, it's true...!!! ...the composer of 'The Prophecy', Christine Kelly, confirms it!!! A favourite in rehearsals, many audience members commented favourably upon the piece. and news of how well-received it was by our audience has been relayed back to Christine, who is said to be delighted!
Otherwise, the evening went as we had hoped, with Phoenix on sparkling good form and with quality solo contributions, Andrew's 'Mille Cherubini in Coro' being a highspot and Jerry's 'Angels' the best rendition of the Robbie Williams number that any of us can remember for quite a while! 'The Chrysanthemum', a lesser well-known Scott Joplin rag from a time when Joplin was promoting ragtime as a new classical music form, was Accompanist Jason Lambert's toe-tapping piano item and Ian offered The Snowman theme, 'Walking In The Air'. Robin presented the adopted wartime number, 'I'll Be Home For Christmas', and Dick delivered a suitably seasonal extract in true local dialect from 'The Boy John Letters'.
The evening also represented the culmination of a year of fundraising for the Priscilla Bacon Lodge Support Group. All through the year, our Norwich and Thorpe St Andrew Concert audiences have given most generously to concert raffles where proceeds have either been shared with or donated to the Support Group, by freely giving donations for complimentary interval refreshments at our September Thorpe St Andrew concert (where we also welcomed our equally generous friends from the Millhouse Green Male Voice Choir), and by contributing to retiring Bucket Collections to benefit the Support Group directly. A note of grateful thanks to you if you contributed in any way to raising money for our chosen cause.
The Support Group is a volunteer body which runs parallel to the hospice work of the Priscilla Bacon Centre at Norwich's Colman Hospital by providing practical help and assistance to the Centre's patients and their families when they need it most. Some say the Support Group's work starts when the NHS is not able to fulfil a specific need and many of the home comforts and welcome advice given and received are delivered by Support Group volunteers.
In the second half, resident M.C. Ian Masters invited Priscilla Bacon Lodge Support Group representatives Elizabeth Stallwood and Pam Evans onto our stage for a Q&A presentation about the Group's work and to describe how donations can help the Group's work at the hospital. To the great delight of all present at the Concert and to Elizabeth and Pam in particular, it was then revealed that the various fundraising efforts throughout the year raised a minimum of £1,000 for the Group.
The Choir delivered the set programme with vigour and ended on a happy note with a Medley of Christmas Carols, ending with a rendition of 'The 12 Days of Christmas' (which raised chuckles by the skilful use of economy when accounting for all twelve days!) and a rousing chorus of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas!' to mark the 'official' end to the programme content.
Appeals for a further song were granted, with many of the audience rising in applause at the song's end, then Musical Director Sarah, Accompanist Jason, and the Choir, took their well-deserved bows.
For the first time, we will deliver our Christmas Concert programme to more than one audience, so our Singing Men assemble again at Stalham Baptist Church on the Saturday before Christmas. If it was anything like tonight...
Phoenix's Concert M.C. and Chairman Ian Masters presenting the Representatives of the Priscilla Bacon Lodge Support Group Pam Evans (left) and Elizabeth Stallwood (right) with the minimum amount raised in 2019 from fundraising at concerts. The final total raised during the year was £1,034.14.
Choir Musical Director Sarah Grimes (centre, background) takes well-earned applause from concert-goers after the final bows at the Mile Cross Christmas Concert.