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.
Scroll down for some photos from the afternoon rehearsals. We have some beautiful photos of the performance on their way to the web site - in the meantime, if anyone has any photos they would like to share, please contact Kicki.
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
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!
Cake decoration in progress!
Photos courtesy of Maya Channing:
Very last dress rehearsals, literally hours before the performance starts.
Photos courtesy of Kicki Frisch:
Only one more day to go to the premiere of One of Our Brothers is a Lion! Yesterday was dress rehearsal day, and nerves are beginning to show - sure it'll all be fine for tomorrow's performance though!
The very busy James Olsen, not only composer, but also pianist, vlogger and photographer, has already published a short but sweet video clip and some photos on his web site,
We've also got some pics by Donkey's mum, Kicki Frisch.
Enjoy - and don't forget to rehearse your lines for tomorrow!
Photos, copyright James Olsen:
Photos, copyright Kicki Frisch:
Less than a week to go to the premiere and the choir is bustling with activity!
Here's a trailer for the opera, featuring music and rehearsal pictures.
On Saturday 11 March, Beckenham Junior Choir descended on the church of St. Michael and All Angels in Penge to start of the concert season of 2017. It was a lovely, much appreciated tribute to Spring by the children.
The composer James Olsen talked a little about our upcoming opera, One of our Brothers is a Lion, and showed off the beautiful lion and donkey masks for the opera created by our talented parent, Michaela.
Michaela has asked for scrap materials to create the lion mane with and to make it a personal mask with contributions from everyone in the choir - so if you have any remnants of materials, ribbons, etc. in orange, yellows or browns that can be used for a lion's mane, please bring them along to choir practice!
Jenny raised much-appreciated additional funds for the opera through her cupcake sales, so a big thank you to everyone who contributed by baking or eating cake!
If you have pictures from the concert that can go on the web site, please contact me.
Our next concert is on April 1st, when BYV return to St. George's Church on Beckenham High Street for a morning of song and music.
If you have the possibility, we would much appreciate if you could print out a few posters and hang e.g. in your local shop, cafe or school. Please click on the image below for a printable version of the poster.
We have some exciting news!
BJC and BYV are about to sing in an opera entitled One of our Brothers is a Lion! that is being written especially for them.
Composer and former BJC pianist, James Olsen is writing an children’s opera for BJC/BYV to be premiered at our concert on Saturday 20th May. The story is based on the medieval legend(from the Legenda Aurae by Voragine) of Saint Jerome who removes a thorn from a lion’s paw; the lion becomes his companion and makes a home inthe monastery, only then to get into trouble when the brothers think he has eaten the monastery’s donkey…
And... we need your help to make this amazing opportunity for our children happen!
We need to raise a total of £5,500 to cover the opera commission and staging expenses. Although timescales are short, we believe that this is such an amazing opportunity that between us all we can do it! Thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters, we have already exceeded our initial goal of raising £2,000 by the end of February!
Please contact us if you would like to contribute, or if you have any fundraising ideas.
For more information, see the brochure containing all the information about the project.
Save the dates
- Saturday, May 20: first performance of the opera for BJC and BYV (please note that this is a new date for BYV).
- Saturday, July 1: second performance in Broadstairs.
On Saturday 2nd July, the church of St. Michael and All Angels in Sydenham hosted Beckenham Junior Choir;the junior choir of St. John's East Dulwich; Beckenham Youth Voices and some choir parents - in a varied programme of singing and instrumentals. (The adults were quite well-behaved!)
This from John Webber:
This is the end of a term in which the Junior Choir has gained eight new members. We look forward to a much needed holiday period and the chance to start back in September with the songs still ringing in our ears!
Best wishes for the Summer holidays ahead and new members are welcome to join us in September"
Our final BJC/YV meeting of the academic year will be this Wednesday, July 6th, when we meet for a picnic at Croydon Road Recreation ground (near the bandstand) from 6pm. Please bring food and a picnic blanket. If the weather looks bad I will send out an email late afternoon with possible alternative arrangements.
If you have not already handed in your named folder, please bring it on Wednesday and hand to John.
Also, if anyone has photos from Saturday's concert that they would be happy to share on our website (password protected) please let me know.
Choir resumes on Wednesday September 14th , 6.00pm for BJC and 7.20pm for BYV.
There will be details of autumn/winter concert dates shortly before the new term resumes.
BJC parents, if you have not already added your names to our Doodle rota for September, please do so ASAP. Let me know if you need the link again. I will be sending out the final dates next week.
Many thanks, and have a glorious summer.
Oh, and one final request from John: