Monday, 20 September 2021

Musicians create Christmas party atmosphere

THE sound of music could be heard across Henley as children, choirs, bands and solo musicians performed for

THE sound of music could be heard across Henley as children, choirs, bands and solo musicians performed for the Living Advent Calendar.

Daily performances have taken place at venues throughout the town for the fifth annual charity initiative, which is sponsored by Higgs Group, publisher of the

Henley Standard

About 100 people have turned out each evening to watch and listen and have contributed generously to the charity bucket collections.

Richard Rodway, who chairs the calendar, said: “It has been a really great week and all the performances were well-received. We have created a real party atmosphere and the footfall has been fantastic.”

He said that donations were on course to “obliterate” last year’s and the total was already halfway towards the 2014 figure of £3,350.

On Saturday, a “youthful” orchestra — the majority of whom are over 40 — performed at Leander Club. They played festive favourites including

Winter Wonderland

Baby It’s Cold


Jingle Bell Rock, A Wonderful World

Walking in the Air.

The audience applauded between each number.

All members of the orchestra wore festive jumpers and headwear, while their sheet music had to be held in place with pegs during their performance due to the gusty conditions.

The orchestra was set up in February by Laura Reineke, founder of Henley Music School, and is now more than 40-strong.

Stewart Lewins, who conducted the orchestra, said: “A total of six hours of rehearsal time was put in to bring together what the guys did and I think they did a great job. They’re all amateur musicians who come for the fun of it. They put on a good show.”

The event was in aid of the Henley branch of the Royal British Legion and was introduced by John Green, chairman of the branch, and Mr Rodway.

On Monday night the Henley Youth Choir performed for more than 150 people at the d:two centre in Market Place. The junior choir sang

Christmas in Falaise Square
, an original piece by musician Alfie Hay, from Bix, accompanied by Henley pianist Anita D’Attellis.

There was also a festive medley including

We Wish You a Merry Christmas
and the audience was invited to join in a rendition of

Ding Dong Merrily on High.

Musical director Ben Goodson said: “This is the first year the Henley Youth Choir has been involved. We were glad to see so many people turn out and sing with us at the end.

“The choir is about a year old and we have about 45 members in the junior choir. We are pleased with how it’s going and always have a great time at rehearsal.”

The event was in aid of the Nomad youth and community project.

On Tuesday night, 18-year-old Georgia Michel, of New Street, Henley, sang and played guitar to an audience of about 100 people at the Angel on the Bridge pub. She performed six tracks in a 30-minute show, which had spectators tapping their feet and nodding their heads in approval.

Georgia opened with traditional carol

White Christmas

I Will Always Love You
by Whitney Houston and then launched into two of her own tracks,

Three Years


This was followed by Britney Spears’s

and finally a rousing rendition of

Jingle Bells
, with which the audience joined in.

Georgia said:

“I have played in front of this many people before but not with everyone looking right at me. It was really good and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

“The Living Advent Calendar is brilliant — I went to some of the events last year and I was really pleased to be asked to take part this year.”

Town councillor Will Hamilton compered the event, which was in aid of Riverside Counselling.

Mark Dunlop, landlord of the pub, provided winter Pimm’s and there were free Copas turkey baps.

On Wednesday, the Henley Children’s Theatre Group, led by Muffin Hurst, performed in the garden of Simmons & Son estate agents in Bell Street.

Other performers included the Reading Between the Lines theatre group, which staged a show called

The Old Father and the Krampus
at Early Rider on Henley Enterprise Park, off Greys Road, on Thursday last week.

This was the story of Krampus, a mythical creature who punishes naughty children at Christmas, written by Chris Lambert and directed by Hal Chambers. Phil Chappell, of GPC Marketing, served free mulled cider before the play and Lawlor’s Bakery provided mince pies.

There was a bucket collection for Bishopswood Special School in Sonning Common.

Dani Davies, one of the actors, said: “We really enjoyed it and will be back in Henley to perform

Twelfth Nigh
t on Mill Meadows in July.”

On Friday, a trio called Bathroom Acoustics performed for dozens of people outside Boatique in Friday Street.

Lance Gerrard-Wright, Simon Milner and David McClements played a range of hits including

Stuck in the Middle With You
by Stealers Wheel and

by George Michael.

Mr Gerrard-Wright, of Albert Road, Henley, said: “We weren’t sure what it would be like playing outside but we had a fun crowd behind us and were welcomed with open arms.”

The Hot Gossip coffee house, which is next door, provided snacks including mince pies.

The event was in aid of the Teenage Wilderness Trust.

On Sunday, the Average Wife Band performed a 30-minute set of well-known songs on a stage at Phyllis Court Club.

The group comprises Lucie Henwood, Tina Jacobs, Gail Rosier, Jenny Stanier, Jenny Plummer, Raffy Spring, Caryn Moberly, Sue Fitzsimmons, Lynn Butler and Hen Coleman.

They played songs including

Gotta Get You into My Life
by The Beatles and Dusty Springfield’s

Son of a Preacher Man.

The group were directed by Joe Henwood in the absence of musical director Andy Crowdy and Sam Harrison played drums.

Mrs Henwood told the audience that the reason for the group’s name was because “on average” they were all wives.

The crowd cheered and applauded between each number and people danced in front of the stage.

About 200 people attended the event, which was in aid of the Regatta for the Disabled. The charity’s chairman Mike Pooley introduced the  musicians.

Mrs Henwood, who plays rhythm guitar and sings in the band, said: “We volunteered to take part because, after going for a number of years, we felt we were ready.

“It was a wonderful way to start Christmas off and I think we did okay. We got the audience dancing and everybody looked happy. It was great.”

Tonight’s performance (Friday) will take place at the town hall in Market Place from 6.15pm.

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