A great evening was had by all!
I am sure everyone who attended the Last Choir Standing Corporate Event 2011 recently would agree it provides a stage for ordinary people to do some extraordinary things – all for blood cancer charity Leukaemia CARE.
As I have now witnessed the event for the third year running, it never ceases to amaze me how musically accomplished, resourceful, innovative and entertaining the fraternity of local accountants, bankers, solicitors and technologists can be when unleashed on an unsuspecting audience.
This year, for example, the programme kicked off with accountants Kendal Wadley, proving that the Malvern Hills are alive with the sound of music. I thought they were fantastic and very brave to go on first. Those lovely little blonde-haired girls were so cute and the men in Lederhosen certainly added some Bavarian ambience and a bit of Oompha. It was as if the Austrian Tyrol had come to Worcestershire. Did anyone spot the rather tall nun drinking a pint of beer in the interval? Reverend Mother, I think this nun really had sinned.
Second to stand under the spotlight were contestants Thursfields, who presented yet another impressive performance with their medley of songs from Les Miserables. The choir’s close harmonies, coupled with a blend of lovely voices led by the very musically accomplished Robin Humphreys, ensured that they secured a well-deserved first place. The lyrical legal songsters certainly brought the West End to Malvern. Well done to all of you.
We were then treated to a lively performance from the teaching staff at King Charles I High School who gave an energetic rendition of a medley of songs from the Broadway smash-hit musical Grease. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John have got nothing on these athletic academics as they moved energetically around the stage like greased lightning! As newcomers to the competition this year they were top class!
The last performance of the first half was BBC Hereford and Worcester’s choir. Also new to the competition, they presented us with eight minutes of pure showbiz, with a rich tapestry of songs attributed to New York. The performance was definitely as juicy and as appetizing as the Big Apple itself. They came a very respectable second in the contest which was a fantastic achievement. Certainly a choir to look out for next year!
The second half started off with a lively performance from Barclays Corporate Banking Team and Leukaemia CARE, proving the point that the 60s still swing and the Beatles still rock. I noted that Lauren Billington was banned from performing this year as in the 2010 performance she distracted the audience and fellow choir member Andy Bird with a rather cheeky and impromptu Pas de deux.
Lead judge Malcom Goldring was so overwhelmed by the sight of the mini-skirts and kinky boots donned by the female choir members is it any wonder they secured the Judges’ Prize? Malcolm clearly enjoyed his musical trip down memory lane… or should that be Abbey Road?
Next on the stage was the English Mutual Group, who kindly let Postcode Anywhere join its ranks. The flavour was definitely Country & Western as the choir performed the Doug Anthony All Stars romantic song Throw Your Arms Around Me and the John Denver classic Country Roads and a rather incongruous I don’t Like Mondays. Country and Punk is certainly an eclectic mix, but it seemed to work quite well. The choir extended a warm ‘howdy partners’ to the audience and wearing denim, cowboy boots and bright bandanas they certainly looked quite at home on the range as well as on the stage.
Last but not least were the divas from Malvern Theatres, who took the audience on a journey from the 60s all the way through to the noughties. The all-girl choir performed a selection of iconic tunes accompanied by beautiful harmonies and synchronised hand-and-foot movements. They presented a particularly slick and accomplished performance and looked so at home on the professional stage. (To be fair I suppose it is their home, but nevertheless I thought they were fabulous.)
Everyone at Malvern Theatres, particularly the production staff and theatre technicians, looked after us really well and I would like to extend a big thank you to all on behalf of the choirs participating.
Special thanks should also go to our national treasure Dave Bradley for his compering skills that kept the event moving and on time. Judges Malcolm Goldring and Russell Painter also did a fantastic job and so did our resident pianist John Brierley.
Giles Cross, representing co-sponsors English Mutual, delivered a fantastic opening address and the team from Leukaemia CARE, headed up by Lauren Billington, did a splendid job and deserve a big pat on the back. Thanks too to Monique Hazelhurst for being a real super trouper.
It was an absolutely fabulous evening and what touched me in particular was the moment when the winners Thursfields were called back on to the stage to perform an encore. Everyone in the audience clapped in time to their rousing finale. It was a very fitting tribute as affirmation of the audiences’ unanimous verdict. For me this one small gesture epitomised the camaraderie that existed between all of the contestants. We may not have been united in one voice, but we were certainly united by the spirit of harmonious philanthropy.