A wonderful turnout for the Gala Concert at Westminster Cathedral Hall, in Ambrosden Avenue, Victoria, London! It was such a privilige to be in a concert with so many talented people, and above all to meet two old friends again, David Hoyland, the accompanist, who played fabulously for everyone and the lovely Elizabeth Collier, who sang her aria from Princess Ida 'Minerva' superbly, in glowing and lustrous voice,( if disappointingly lit by wrongly positioned lights) .She was singing better than ever! Just shows that the National Opera Studio produces artists of lasting quality. I was very proud! Pity she didn't sing one more.....
The Ed Begley Quartet, stylish and in excellent jazz style, produced professional jazz at its best, especially in their tender account of the song 'Georgia'. I could have listened to them all evening. Don Maclean had people rolling in the aisles with his stand up comedy, and was superbly succeeded by Jim Bannan and Patrick Lee who each had their individual style and yet produced very funny material. I especially liked the joke about the goldfish!Vocalists, Jimena Larraguivel and New Zealander Gemma Cocker sang “Let It Be” , singing beautifully and dressed enchantingly in white floating style dresses to great applause and Dympna Le Rasle, Jimena, Martin Brown, Lisa Doran, Gemma Prue Gillett, Patrick Lee and Alastair Kelly all joined in a sort of music hall act to provide a rousing end to the evenings proceedings, which raised well over a thousand pounds for Cafod charity!! Wonderful!
I sang 'Vissi d'Arte' from Tosca and the Czardas from 'Fledermaus'. wearing my new sapphire blue evening gown, which is the first new gown I have ordered for a while and it looked lovely under the lights, which had been correctly placed by the time I arrived on stage! Singing in the dark would have been disappointing! I was so pleased to get a tremendous response from the audience and was so happy to be so well received! Every artist needs support from time to time, and this was a lovely evening for this, and so many compliments! Have to make the most of it! The audience were very supportive of all of us!
Very humbling was seeing a slide show of some of the past members of the Catholic Association of Performing Arts. Sir Ralph Richardson, Lionel Jeffries,AlecGuiness, FrankFinlay, LionelJeffriesIan Bannen, Moira Lister, Valerie Masterson, Eamon Andrews, amongst a large distinguished band. I remembered singing at the Memorial Mass for Patricia Hayes at Westminster Cathedral. We also got the tremendous news that Julian Fellowes (ex Ampleforth) has accepted the invitation to become Vice President of the Society and will attend the centenary dinner. He has just won some Emmies and Awards for his series 'Downton Abbey' on TV. Our much loved late Chairman, Michael Williams was also remembered on this evening, and Norman Hoskins paid tribute to him by impersonating Michael in one of his favourite sketches 'The Day the War Broke Out' . Boards had been put up with photos of members, and champagne and refreshments in a long interval, when the jazz was played again. Hope they have a CD! Having crammed my 'big' dress into its bag, it was hard to get out the door. So many people from the opera world there, but finally it was back to the car, with my lovely husband turning up at the stage door to whisk me the 100 miles back to Gloucestershire. Working with David is always such a pleasure, and seeing old friends, not only Liz Collier, but Michael Slater , Robin Marshall, Charlotte Williams, and of course Father Vlad (!) was the icing on the cake! Better still was meeting new friends, who introduced themselves to me!