A Phoenix Family Christmas
It was just over a week till Christmas when the day of our concert dawned – that weekend of feverish anticipation for the Big Day of the 25th. Our Holy Trinity Church Hall was ‘all aglow’ with festive decorations – Merridan had even erected a chimney in the centre of the hall for our very own Santa, Kris, to stand on.
Having rehearsed for weeks we Phoenixes were full of excitement, and ready to perform a real mix of Christmas songs. The only slight question mark lay over Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ – not the song itself, which, personally, I love. No, the issue lay with our copies, which, halfway through the song, went off on a complete tangent of “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la…” before taking us back to the motorway, where we were “top to toe in tail-backs”!
Hmm, yeah. Well, the conversation in rehearsal thus ran:
Kathryn: Delete! Delete!
Sally (then all): Exterminate! Exterminate!
Kris’s anecdote of meeting a guy who said to him “I’m from Exeter mate! I’m from Exeter, mate!”
(I’m not from Exeter, mate, but it is where I did my Masters. So, I know Exeter well, mate. I know Exeter well, mate!)
Anyway, this all cheered us up a lot during our penultimate rehearsal!
At around 4pm choir and orchestra alike were busying about the hall, getting ready – this was done to the comforting sound of our violinist practising. Soon, the hall was ready and we got down to rehearsal, which ran nice and smoothly. (Incidentally, when I rehearsed my solo of ‘Walking in the Air’, Kris advised me to make it sound better by singing ‘walking in the hare’. Well, it’s not quite the image I had in mind, but if it means I sing it right, I’ll go with it!)
All too soon, it was time to get some food down us and put on our festive attire – including Laura’s stunning Santa dress and Helen’s golden antlers and reindeer glasses – a wise Rudolph. On our table backstage we had a positive mountain of chocolatey delights. Scrummy as they were, we resisted where possible, as they don’t make it easy for the voice to produce high notes. At this point in proceedings, Alex, who was adorning a rather orange reindeer hat, asked, “What noise do reindeer make?” Kathryn did her impression – something that sounded half-cockerel, half-cow. I then suggested that maybe they don’t make any sound at all, as they’re generally quite shy and retiring. That said, it should be pointed out here that Alex’s reindeer looked anything but shy and retiring – and the same could be said about Alex. Indeed, Mr Orange Reindeer looked a tad damaged. Alex declared it was wrong of me to make such personal comments, as it wasn’t good for his reindeer’s mental wellbeing…The jury’s still out as to whether Mr Orange Reindeer has forgiven me yet…
Anyway, moving swiftly on, soon it was time for us to take our seats, as the audience started arriving in the hall. They were each greeted with a Christmas card, running order, and a pretty tealight underneath their seats. The concert began with the brilliant take on Clement Clarke Moore’s Twas the Night Before Chrismas poem, ‘Twas the Night of the Concert’, as composed by Kathryn and Fiona.
The Santa who attended our concert played his role to perfection.
After this telling-off from St Nick, the chastened Phoenixes got on with the show, which was received by a lovely appreciative audience. We were helped in great measure by our orchestra, who, as ever, had only seen the music earlier that day, but nonetheless, played magnificently.
The interval arrived and it was a race to the cookies and hot chocolate stand. I personally sampled one of Merridan’s to-die-for gluten-free choc chip delights. Santa’s Grotto and Photo Booth also had many takers.
Everyone warmed and fed, we began the second half with the classic ‘Little Drummer Boy’ – I admire the tenors and basses’ sheer stamina for getting through two whole pages of “parum-pa-pa-pums” during this song. Myron, Fiona and Gail were stellar as always in their solos – Mum particularly loved Gail’s rendition of ‘2000 Miles’. And hats off to Merridan and Kathryn for the two beautiful festive duets they sang – their voices sounded lovely together. These duets also provided a highlight of the night in that Kris got me and Kathryn muddled up. Namely, I was rather surprised when he announced ‘And now let’s welcome back to the stage Merridan and Liv to sing their duet of ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?”! (Easy mistake to make – we do all have brown hair and wear glasses, after all!) This got a huge laugh from everyone – and I was rather relieved to not have to sing a song I didn’t know the words to.
Soon after that, we reached our final piece of the night, where we got the audience up and clapping to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ and Kathryn was showering us with silver confetti.
This was a wonderful community effort from cast, choir and orchestra alike to put on this joyful festive concert. We hope the audience enjoyed it and thank you to everyone involved!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! And Happy New Year – see you again in 2023!