Lion Opera Premiere

The concert and premiere of One of Our Brothers Is a Lion! on Saturday was a great success! The church was packed full, and we’ve had so many lovely comments from the spectators. Well done everyone who worked so hard to make this a great performance. Thank you also to everyone who donated beautiful cakes to the cake sale afterwards - and to everyone who helped eat them! We raised a considerable amoutn of money for the choir, a huge thank you for your generosity.

A few words from John

Beckenham Junior Choir and Beckenham Youth Voices gave a terrific concert on Saturday to an audience of two hundred, some of whom had travelled a long way.

In part one, we opened with “Sweet Gingerbread man”, by Michel Legrand. Both Choirs love this and it is one of their “signature tune” items nowadays! Then we had “Songs of London Town,” by Mervyn Burtch, using soloists and the full Choir, with some children reciting short poems on the theme of London. This music is not easy and the young people’s talents was a joy to watch.

Then five members of the Junior Choir sang solos from “When we were Very Young” (Music by H Fraser-Simson), using words which many of those present will have remembered from their childhoods. Finally in part one, we had “Take me up the Tyne”, by Eric Boswell (he of “Little Donkey” fame); this song is part of a collection of his “Songs of the North East”, which I dig out from time to time.

In part two, the Choirs made an excellent job of a newly written opera by James Olsen. James assisted with running the Junior Choir in its (and his) early days in the 1990s and has since risen to dizzy heights as a composer. The joint Choirs combined acting, speaking, movement and singing for this thirty-minute work, which combined several different types of music (plainsong, Mozart, rock ’n’ roll, J S Bach). The script showed James’s great sense of humour and of the ridiculous, with even references to “Dad’s Army”, as well as to various types of social media which (as you can imagine) pass me by!

We have so many soloists in our Choirs that I have deliberately not named anyone.

A special “thank you” to our expert voice coach, Stuart Kale, who is very popular with our Choirs and helps the singers to reach a high standard and encourages the newest members. The number of adults involved behind the scenes was greater than ever and I am hugely grateful to those who shared the tasks so efficiently.

We look forward to repeating the opera on Saturday, July 1st. at Holy Trinity, Broadstairs (with a different part one).

In the meantime, we have “Bring-a-Friend-to-Choir” day on Wednesday and it will be good to build up our quantity of younger singers, as Youth Voices is developing wonderfully.

Congratulations to you all!

A few words from James

Dear all,

Lovely email from Geoff Haskins below, my grandpa and one of our patrons. I’m thrilled he came. He’s now 90, but full of energy still.

“What an experience, James! The opera was so well received and everyone concerned must be congratulated for what must have been an enormous task: composing, rehearsing, logistics, infrastructure, catering, and all the rest of the minutiae that contributed to such a splendid event.”

At the other end of the generational spectrum, my cousin Faye brought her husband and two girls, aged 6 and 8, and a mutual friend of ours also came with her two children of the same age. They all enjoyed it a lot, I gather. Serena Aylward, my successor as pianist to the BJC back in the 90s, brought her son Sebastian, who’s 4, and it was his first grown-up concert. He loved it and stayed throughout.

Just a few of the many positive things which I’ve heard came out of Saturday, and I’m sure there are lots I don’t know about. That, for me, is why music is more than just sound—it’s about an event, about bringing a community together, about people doing thing they never thought they could do, about opening up possibilities for young and old alike, which is why I think what we are creating together is so valuable. Thank you again so much, because without you my work would just be words and notes on paper.

Excited now for Broadstairs!

Photos copyright Nick Charles