Last Monday’s rehearsal was on one of the more spectacularly violent weather events of recent times. With the wind howling through the church doors, it was necessary to shut and bolt the outer doors, but the sound of the church bell ringing gently was truly spooky. Whether it was simply the wind blowing across the bell mouth, the bell being rocked until it touched its clapper or the resident ghost, we shall never know!
And so finally the evening arrived. Much carting of tympani and percussion, much to-ing and fro-ing of musicians, choir members and audience, and finally everyone was seated and ready to go. There is always a bit of a buzz as Christmas approaches, and the evening of 9th December 2019 at St Mary the Virgin Church, Ashford, was no different. An audience of around 150 had gathered, many of whom were family and friends of the Ashford Community Choir, Ashford Sinfonia or Woodchurch Driving Group of Riding for the Disabled.
The music started with three songs from the choir – Be Our Guest, Why We Sing and A Million Dreams. We then moved on to the ET Flying Theme and the James Bond Theme by the orchestra before moving into three carols sung by the audience and the choir accompanied by the orchestra, and sandwiched between the classic Singing in the Rain and a Christmas Medley written by the orchestra’s conductor Gill Booker.
Following the interval for tea and biscuits, served by the RDA helpers, the choir sang Santa Lucia, Thank you for being a Friend and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. By now everyone was well warmed to the task of making music, and those who thought they heard voices during the orchestra’s Sound of Music Selection were not mistaken – the choir couldn’t help but sing along behind the stage! A rousing round of applause (whistles even!) then lead us into the final three carols.
All in all a very successful evening, and all thanks go to the members of Ashford Community Choir and their conductor and musical director Karen Hill, and to all our orchestra members and our very own conductor and director Gill Booker. To crown it all, we later learnt that the event had raised £1,037 for the Woodchurch Driving Group!
Tickets also available from WeGotTickets.com or ‘phone 01303 894635
No rehearsal on Monday 21st October as it is half term. Back again the following week!
Thanks to a generous contribution made after our last article, we are delighted to report that the total raised for the Padhar Hospital has risen to £500!
Having missed most of the rehearsals this term due to commitments elsewhere, I was quite apprehensive attending the last one, the first I had been to which included our soloists. However, as soon as Gabriel Webb brought that beautifully rich sound out of his cello, and Gill conducted us so well, I was hooked.
Come Sunday and the concert. We started with a short rehearsal, then had coffee and a chat while the audience took their seats. Our first piece was an arrangement of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s Gondoliers Suite, which was then followed by Emmanuel Webb playing The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughn Williams. Described by my friends as an assured performance, Emmanuel’s playing was confident and beautiful. He was then followed by his younger brother Gabriel, playing the first two movements of Elgar’s poignant cello concerto – quite stunning. As a cello player myself, I think this may prove to be a high point in my playing time! The orchestra finished with Eric Coates’s Dambusters March, played with real gusto and confidence.
Peter Lefevre gave us a short description of our chosen charity, the Padhar Hospital in India, and I am delighted to report that our wonderful audience donated £400 to this deserving cause. Talking of our audience, this was the first time we have had to put out extra chairs, and had people wandering into the church to listen to the music!
Well done to all the performers! It was particularly wonderful to be able to play music with two young men at the beginning of their careers in music – hopefully they’ll remember us when they’re famous.
Thanks are due to the ladies of the Church of St Mary the Virgin for serving coffee tea and cakes during the afternoon, to the team who look after the church and let us rehearse and play there, to Jonathan Webb for his piano support and he and his wife for lending us their sons! And particular thanks to Gill Booker for conducting us and having the idea in the first place!