Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year - here is EPAM!

Well, tata to 2010; another busy year... and hello to a new management team.
We are now attached to the Artists Management department of Peters Edition, London... EPAM.
The ever-suave Robin Tyson will be helping massage our careers for the foreseeable.... exciting times ahead. He is an ex-singer with a too-marvellous-to-mention vocal group, and so knows our world of touring backwards.
Many wonderful plans ahead... not least getting back in the studio for a new Signum album... and not the usual fare!
As ever, watch this space for news.

Just off to stand in the middle of London and watch fireworks...

Have a wonderful 2011... we are going to...

Friday, 24 December 2010

I'll be home for Christmas...

We're home....
Having left Nazareth behind, the three wise men decided not to follow the Eurostar, but took the chunnel instead, having heard in a dream that there was snow on the way [which Steve got stuck in; as he wanted to stay in Belgium, this was not so bad!]...

Happy Christmas, and more anon... (when it is not 3.30am)

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

2010 sum-up on youtube

Steve has done a splendid job on our 2010 summation, as performed v. early in the morning on BBC Radio 5Live...

Presently in hotel in Calais, having crawled through the chunnel, after waiting for hours... but we are on mainland Europe, so Belgium should be easy to get to!! Home on Christmas Eve, barring a hurricane/typhoon/flood... not tempting fate am I?

Night night...

Monday, 20 December 2010

Another early start

A wonderful early evening gig at the Salisbury Playhouse last night; the audience battled through the snow, and we all had an excellent Christmas time on the set of Aladdin.

Then having again in the UK [once more this month] managed to get home that night on the train... (in my house by 10.30pm)... we got up before dawn so as to appear on BBC Radio 5Live's breakfast show. At 7.40ish and 8.40ish, we did a review of the news year, and sang the 28-carol story of Christmas in 2 minutes. The link above works today... cannot swear it will be exactly there after tomorrow.... but it should be somewhere on their site until Christmas. Great to see Nicky Campbell and Shelagh Fogarty once more; they were very jolly and appreciative, despite the news' idée fixe... transport chaos!

Eurostar are presently sorting out their weather issues, and all will be brilliantly well for our trip to Belgium on Wednesday & back on Friday.... surely...!?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Sad news

Two old friends of the group have died recently.
Neil Richardson and Hugues Cuénod.

Amongst many pieces, Neil arranged four songs on our album A Tribute to Hollywood, one with piano, one with string quartet and two with brass quintet; Everybody's Talkin' At Me, Cavatina, As Time Goes By & Evergreen all glorious sumptuous arrangements which suit us so well. A lovely man, he provided so many 'easy' sounds for the radio over the years [tho' many of us know just how hard it is to keep those standards high!]... String Sound was a favourite BBC Radio 2 programme of mine when I was growing up and he did it all. He also had 'Maestro' in his email address... a wonderful touch for such a modest chap. Perhaps he should have added 'Mastermind' too.... (as he wrote the theme!)

As to Mr Cuénod, he coached Mike and also the group in the singing of Poulenc, and was a great support. My abiding memory of him, is as a straight-backed, tall 99 year-old, who came to see us at Thèâtre Boulimie, Lausanne a few years back. My wife had our very young son backstage throughout the concert, so there was a 99 year gap between the oldest and youngest in the building.... not sure that will be repeated in a hurry. He managed to get to the splendid age of 108. Well, he did make his debut at the Met at the tender age of 84... still a record.

Sad losses to the musical world.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas begins

Christmas concerts in England... how excellent.
Clacton-on-Sea has a wonderful theatre and a great community, so the gigs there are always full; they have a waiting list to join. Everyone gave us a splendid welcome, and a fine Christmas evening ensued. A similar feeling was created in Grantham in more intimate surroundings.
A rare delight for us, we were able to get back from both places by train, and were home before midnight...
The following day, we were part of the excellent A Star for Christmas, a carol concert in aid of Age UK in St Pancras Church, London. We were greeted enthusiastically, singing our multi-carol re-telling of the Nativity Story and The Twelve Days of Christmas; the rest of the cast were terrific. Compère Penny Smith introduced Sylvia Sims, Sheila Hancock, June Whitfield, Nicky Spence, Hannah Waddingham, Anton Stephens & Edward Baruwa accompanied by Choir UK (directed by Lisa Thorner), Simon James & singers, The Sylvia Young Theatre School and the Choir of The Royal School, Haslemere and, naturally, everyone excelled themselves... the packed church rang with Christmas joy.
The next day, we sang at a party in a private house... I am afraid I'd have to shoot you if I told you who, where and what it was... yes, there were a few celebs, but truly it was a party for a loving family; we were delighted to be a part of it. As the guy is especially house-proud [well, it is very newly made splendid], we could not wear shoes; so all the guests had 'animal slippers' provided; definitely the first time we have performed in puppy slippers... We managed once more to get home [in the early hours]... sleeping in our own beds... what a treat!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Weather permitting...

After the glories of Eastnor Castle, we drove off early for the Eurostar train... Steve very early as he went overnight... and arrived for two concerts in Belgium; at Heist-op-de-Berg and at Heudsen-Zolder. For the second of these Chris Hatt joined us on the piano, which was a joy... with his entire family, including a new being presently hiding inside his wife. Glorious.

Both concerts went well. We were delighted to be introduced at H-Z by Fred Brouwers, the experienced Broadcaster, whom we had met at a Klara concert in January this year & also a coach-full of 50 friends from Sittard, Holland arrived courtesy of Gertie... we are blessed by our fans.

The next pair of concerts was in Switzerland, and the snow nearly thwarted us. Our flight was cancelled, and the next available with the same carrier [BA of course!] was full. Swissair came to the rescue, and we finally arrived at our first gig with 50 minutes to spare. No worries! These performances were organised by UBS, and went down tremendously well... in Wolfsberg and Thun.
Geneva airport still being closed [for the Swiss to be affected, it must have been terrible!]; we eventually got from Zurich back to the recently-reopened London City.

One day at home, with some time to enjoy England beginning to thrash Australia at cricket in Oz, and then we attempted to get to Vienna, for what has become our annual appearence at Voicemania. Luckily, despite snow being around, all was well.
We shared an evening with wonderful people in the excellent Metropol, our old friends, the fantastic male-voice quartet, INtrmzzo, who still are afraid of vowels, and some new friends the amazing Jukebox Trio from Russia.
The other two groups were on fire, and the somewhat-dangerously called long night of a cappella was a success for all of us!
We left Vienna, just as our cricketers had started pummelling the Aussies into the ground.
Now it was back to the UK.... to Clacton-on-Sea.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

More parties...

Much time has passed; but I must write again…

We have been having a splendid time performing at celebrations and parties… firstly an Anglo-Swedish wedding – at least, the reception in a glorious pub in Dulwich Village. All the music was organised by our friend Sofie Haag, and we were delighted to be part of such a happy occasion.

Continuing the friendship of nations theme, having sung for the Anglo-Belgian Club [or ABC] we then went to a subsequent Anglo-Belgian birthday party in Yorkshire, with a wonderful array of food available… Hog Roast, Paella & conviviality all round! Perfect for the Anglo-Belgian outfit, The London Quartet - Cantabile!

The next party was at the amazing and utterly spectacular Eastnor Castle

This place really does have to be seen to be believed, more mediaeval weapons and armour than I have seen ever on the walls, and battlements straight out of King Arthur... and yes, it is all fake, although the land has been an estate for the Somers Cox family for centuries, the building you see now is only 19th-century and has seen no warfare! Further brilliantly restored post-WWII.

We sang for a small and select group who were going to shoot things the next day... not us luckily... I could not possibly divulge any names of guests... sorry!

Next day, it was off early to Belgium... and beyond!