Sunday, 10 December 2017

German tourette

A return visit to the splendid small town in Germany, Pirmasens...
Once again bringing Christmas cheer to people in the new Arts Centre there.

Three nights there... and lovely it was.  We were looked after splendidly - hotel, food on tap etc -  & people were very kind, even when we mentioned Brexit (tho' some sniggered!)

Delightful to be joined on the last night by German agent Peter Martin Jacob & his husband, Sasha...

Here is the Town Hall Advent calendar - a glorious European tradition:-

In the bottom left-hand corner you can also see the top of the wonderful crepe stall, which served me the excellent After-Eight Crepe (hyphen is their addition) - glory!

Then it was north to Hamminkeln for a concert in a church - with such a fantastic acoustic... marvellous it was... A lovely Festive atmosphere, with two great friends, Carole & Birgit in the audience, along with newer friend Stefan.
Organisation terrific and attentive.
Hotel was also terrific, tho' we had to leave it very early - getting up at 6.25AM... probably normal to many of you, but pretty dawn-ish for me!

Now we prepare for our Christmas concerts in Belgium... home on Christmas Eve!

Friday, 10 November 2017

Send for Mr Plim

A delightful lunchtime in the company of Maggie Forsyth with Julian Forsyth and fellow members of the cast of An American in Paris at the Soho Theatre, watching a performance of Send for Mr Plim!, a comic cabaret opera from 1932 by Mischa Spoliansky, adapted into English by Julian Forsyth and Steve Edis. (German original: Rufen Sie Herrn Plim!)

We were in good company, as Barry Humphries (an expert in Weimar era music & cabaret), Jane Asher, Bill Patterson & Spoliansky's two grandsons were there too!  Sadly their Mum, Spoli, has died since the last production, but she was there in spirit, of course.

We, TLQ, played the management of the Wertheim's (the Berlin shop where this piece is set) in the production at Battersea Arts Centre in 1999; and it was wonderful to hear the score again.
Julian & Steve have added a prologue of Spoliansky music, with pithy, brilliant lyrics exploring the alarming atmosphere of Germany in the early 1930s.

The cast rehearsed all this in their spare time (of which there is not much when you are playing in a long show 8 performances a week!); and they were fantastic of course, looking and sounding ace.  Very much a workshop performance, but utterly compelling.
Let's hope this is the first of very many performances & it goes on to huge success.

Wonderful to see our old friends, The Forsyths & Spoli's sons.
A lovely way to spend a London lunchtime.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

August sunshine

Two delightful days in the August sunshine (tho' with a small modicum of rain...)
Firstly a shared gig in Dresden with the lovely Medlz, and another German band HörBänd...
As ever the concert was a splendid celebration of a cappella from three different standpoints.
We touched on Brexit and were given the usual mixture of laughter, confusion and hilarity!
A full crowd in the theatre had an excellent evening of music, culminating in an all-three-group rendition of.... (oh yes)... Stand By Me !

Here we all are, after it was done!

A possible lovely morning appreciating the wonders of Dresden was somewhat marred by torrential rain - but as we watch the terrible storms in the US & Caribbean, perhaps I should let that pass...

Then it was off to sunny England (near Luton) to celebrate the birthday of a very long-standing supporter of the group, Carol Jones... she first saw us in the late 1980s, and we sang for the assembled throng many songs old and new from all the years she has come to see us... one of her favourites Anthem from Chess & of course (it had to be)... Neil Sedaka's Oh Carol !
A lovely afternoon in the English sunshine with friends - what more could one ask...

Friday, 11 August 2017

Estonian adventure

We had a lovely trip to Estonia; sadly for three of us, our bags did not trouble the hotel with their presence! (Mike was the lucky one!)
The place was beautiful, Kuressaare, capital of the island Saaremaa about 4.5 hours from the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
...and it had a splendid castle with a moat too!

...and a windmill, as you do!

We performed in a beautiful church (Chris has put some photos of it up on Facebook): 
St Laurence Church - Laurentiuse kirik.  It had an excellent acoustic and was therefore a joy to rehearse and perform in.
We did find some clothes in which to perform, courtesy of the shop, Saaremaa Kaubamaja - not sure they had ever had people attempting to buy the same clothes before!

We had a delightful evening, our usual breadth from King Henry VIII to Billy Joel & The Beatles, and William Byrd, through Offenbach to Richard Rodney Bennett.  A very enthusiastic and happy audience greeted us...
..and we were well looked after by Festival director, Andres Paas, driver Kalvi Pöld, and especially by Maret Naagel, who did much for us, including liaising with the airport about our missing bags, telling us where to get stuff! & helping us know more about Estonian words.
Because, we did try some language out on the poor unsuspecting public.  As ever, Mike was in Dictionary Corner, but we all had a go... including singing a folk song in Estonian to end the evening... and marvellously, they got what we said and seemed delighted by it!
...and altho' mostly Estonian (this is very much an Estonian's holiday place), there were also Germans and French, and indeed a couple from just north of Birmingham, naturally!

Home now, and awaiting the delights of sharing the stage with Medlz in Dresden on the 25th... hooray!

...and for those who are interested; our pear tree has such a splendid crop, that I have preserved some for use later in the year... yummy!

(If this sort of thing does not indeed interest you, I apologise; normal service will be resumed next blog...)

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Save Kensal Rise Library !

A delightful summer evening in West London...
At short notice, only Mike & Mark could be there, but joined by our agent Robin Tyson and his friend Patrick Craig, we provided some musical elements to an evening of poetry and drama.

It was all about saving Kensal Rise Library - do go and have a look - and we were surrounded by many splendid performers and writers...
Just to reel the names off...

Tamsin Greig and Richard Leaf (Mr. & Mrs.); Haydn Gwynne, Lucy Cohu, Paterson Joseph, Ron Cook (Brilliantly Parker in the Thunderbirds film - my son loved that one!), Stephanie Schonfield, Ben Miles and Emily Raymond (another Mr. & Mrs.), Tim Lott, a young poet called Roxy, Gideon Coe (from BBC Radio 6) & Deb.... All marvellous of course...

Here's Mike and me with Tamsin Greig (with the side of Ben Miles head):

As the theme was Summer and Happiness, we sang two of our cricket songs! The Rules of Cricket (pastiche!) & The Ins and Outs of Cricket - Tea Towel... both went down terribly well...

Then to round off the evening we sang Sullivan's The Long Day Closes, in memoriam of local poet Heathcote Williams who has recently died.

Brilliant to hear these performers at such close quarters and indeed to be joined by Patrick and Robin... hoorah!
I hope they can get & keep the Library flourishing.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Return to Wolfsburg

A very quick return to Wolfsburg...
After having had a splendid time with Viva Voce and Acoustic Instinct in February this very year, we returned to do a full show of our own last weekend.

And people came too!  A lovely audience enjoyed our music and comedy... and we even gave them help with the rules of Cricket, with our Ins and Outs of Cricket (Tea-towel special!)
As ever a wide range of musics were on show, from Henry VIII to Billy Joel, and from French Renaissance dance (Belle qui tiens....Thoinot Arbeau) to the Can-can (Orpheus in the Underground)...
All was accepted and cherished by a large crowd, and we were looked after well by everyone at the theatre...

Here is a view of the Planetarium from the theatre, which lies atop a hill (with alabaster giraffe in the distance):-

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Lovely Spring day at Champs Hill

A beautiful spring day followed by a lovely evening at Champs Hill... in aid of Dreambuilding.

One of the many statues in the gorgeous Champs Hill garden, with colour all around.

I had a walk around the garden with the house dog, who found his rubber chicken in this particular flower bed; his search is about to begin below.

Walking around here put us in a good mood for our evening; the tickets had sold very quickly for the event... a lovely meal in the concert hall-cum-art gallery (& recording studio!); an auction... with auctioneer, Charles Collingwood... and then us to end the evening!

All terrific... great to see Charles Collingwood (Brian Aldridge in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, btw) & indeed his wife Judy Bennett (Shula in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, btw)... he splendidly shepherded the auction to collecting many thousands for the charity... a very successful evening for the new building for a local hospice.
We had previously met them both at our Cricket 'Rhyme and Season' evenings, as organised by the late-lamented David Rayvern Allen, at Lord's, Hambledon and elsewhere, where Charles, a keen cricketer himself always read/acted hilariously!

As ever, the Champs Hill room was a delight in which to sing, and the audience enjoyed music from Henry VIII to Elton John, via The Mills Brothers and Laurel & Hardy!

Chris Hatt was once again with us at the piano, so all five of us had a splendid time... Sarah-Ann was especially impressed with a bucket of sausages as big as her head!