It's been a busy few months, I've been on road constantly since the beginning of July (workshops, festivals, gigs) and inbetween I was writing arrangements for various projects and preparing for and promoting the COTGOS 20th anniversary. (Notably, about 20 members sang on the ABC Music Show Sat September 9, and while it seemed a pretty good performance at the time, it was also notable for both soloists - me and Lisa Spence - forgetting words to songs we'd been singing for decades.) And it was all a blessing and a privilege: great workshop groups, great singing and great spirit in Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Camden and Newscastle.
As well, The Heavenly Lights are currently working on an album, predictably focussing on quartet numbers from the ’40s and ’50s.
The Café of the Gate of Salvation's 2oth Anniversary bash seemed to go off brilliantly. I only say ‘seemed’ because I was so involved doing stuff on the night - performing, guest-wrangling etc - that the night was a blur. But the feedback I got indicated that it was a varied, funky and joyous night. For a start, I was impressed at how many exmembers showed up to sing or watch.
The band was tight and thrilling in its responsiveness: Peter Dasent (keys), Hamish Stuart (drums), and Tim Curnick (bass) - and I got to whip out the Strat for a few rhythm noodlings - in which I fondly imagined I was channelling Pops Staples - on most of the numbers, thanks to Dynes taking over as conductor on those songs.
The highlights were most likely to have been the choir’s opening ‘Walls of Zion’; the Heavenly Light Quartet’s ‘Shall I Meet You Over Yonder’ (the Heavenly Lights reuniting for the evening with William Selwyn (which felt great - Willy slotted beautifully straight back into the tenor part with just one run-through); and the great array of guests: Jenny Morris sounding glorious (another reunion: Jenny, Peter Dasent and I were last on stage together in 1980, playing in the Crocodiles); Doug Williams was ALL over that bass, wringing new and wonderful variations out the old favourite ‘I Woke Up This Morning’ and singing like a god; Jackie Orszaczky was similarly dazzling and eccentric on piccolo bass and aching vocals on ‘Lift Me Up’; and what was apparently the standout of the evening, Tina Harrod blazed through ‘Spirit in the Dark’ with divine authority.
After that, the reunion choir: with 20 or so-ex-members joining us, it was all exuberance and joy on ‘How I Got Over’ (the first song the choir ever learned), ‘The Storm Is Passing Over’, ‘In The Spirit’, ‘Jesus and Me’ and ‘Be Thankful’, the last two with the band.
Thanks to all our fabulous guests, to the band, to the ex-members who showed up (Thanks, especially to Geri, for flying in from Paris) to the hardworking choir team (Alice, Nicolle, Steve, Sue, Mike and all) who did so much work putting it all together, to our old soundman, Josh James who did front-of-house for us on the night, Tim Mieville for great work as our MC - and thanks to all of you who turned up to support us on the night.
But it’s not over yet:
The concert was filmed and some of that footage will turn up on ABC2’s AustraliaWide (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/australiawide/about/default.htm).
Highlights from the gig were broadcast on Music Deli (ABC radio) 8pm Friday Sept 29, repeated 4pm Sunday Oct 1. You can hear it until the end of October on-line at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/musicdeli/ for a month - it's 'audio-on-demand', you can stream it but not download it.
Photos by Bridget Elliot of a rehearsal (with the choir, band and guests) for the gig will appear in the November ’06 issue of 2MBS -FM’s Fine Music magazine (http://www.2mbs.com/Magazine/tabid/167/Default.aspx)
2007 promises to be a year of travel: after the ever-stimulating and evolving Summersong in January, it’s New Zealand again to work with Babette Oshry's music and cultural tour (March), and in July it’s Western Samoa with Messepa Edwards (ex-Manuhiri), where we're teaching at a singing retreat at some impossibly beautiful location. (Details of those events below.)
Plus the Café of the Gate of Salvation will tour New Zealand in April.
Later in the year, I'll be going back to the USA with Rosie Johnson’s WA choir Band of Angels, then on to Canada, the UK and France to run workshops.