Our first gig for 2017 was at the Kiama Jazz Festival. On a lovely & sunny March afternoon we made the most of a less than ideal location on the main strip to battle with nearby amplified guitars and drums but we held our own! We set up outside an old church and sang a set of 10 songs including Richard's 'go for it' version of Never Let Go My Hand. The following day we performed 9 songs at the ecumenical Kiama Jazz Festival Gospel Concert at Ss Peter & Paul's Catholic Church. We stuck to those songs we know and love the best such as Storm is Passing Over, Precious Lord and People Get Ready. The 400 or so audience members got into the spirit and brought out the best in us. We also sold over 20 of our Milk & Honey CDs, donating $5 from each sale to Médecins Sans Frontières, who were the concert's chosen beneficiaries.
In August, the Honeybees, together with Unaccompanied Baggage, performed at the Willoughby Uniting Church for Acappella Northside 2017. This year, Acappella Northside was raising money for two causes. The first, Narrandera Uniting Church, is a church in a small rural community that can't often afford a full-time minister. To assist, three Sydney congregations (Crows Nest, Hornsby and Willoughby Uniting Churches), contribute to the cost of having a minister of Narrandera Uniting Church. The other charity is the Asylum Seekers Centre, Newtown who provide practical and personal support for people seeking asylum living in the community. The Honeybees performed some of the favourites such as Didn't It Rain, I am Ready, Let the Fire Burn and Oh Happy Day. In addition to these, Torie debuted as a soloist, and beautifully performed Joyful Joyful to rousing applause.
Our first gig for 2016 was one very dear to our hearts as it was the wedding of choir member Maureen to her dashing partner Mark. The beautiful ceremony was held at Banjo Paterson's Cottage in Gladesville.
The blushing bride and equally blushing Bees
The Bees performing in Kiama and the very appreciative crowd
In mid-March the Bees travelled down the coast to take part in the Kiama Jazz & Blues Festival. Together with The Parson Sons Plus Gospel Band, we performed at the Sunday morning Gospel Jazz Service with a set of 9 songs including I Am Ready, Trouble of this World & a rousing encore of How I Got Over. Of particular note was the fantastically involved audience who did not hold back on joining in and showing their apprecaition. One of the organisers posted the following in our guest book : "Wow! Thank you so much for such a beautiful celebration in song today at The Kiama Jazz Festival. The harmonies were exquisite and the soloists were so uplifting. I have had so many amazing comments about the performance."
Steve conducting at Vanessa's Ordination
Early June saw a first for The Bees - an ordination! We were delighted to perform at Vanessa's Ordination Ceremony at the Koean Community Uniting Church in Lindfield. On a very stormy, wet and wild day in Sydney, we performed a number of songs that Vanessa chose, incluing Oh! Happy Day, Never Let Go My Hand & How I Got Over. Vanessa enthused "... Words cannot express my gratitude for what you did at my ordination. Thank you all so much...".
Our June Winter SOULstice was once again held at St John's Anglican Church, Darlinghurst. This year we raised over $2,100 for OzHarvest, a charity that collects unwanted food from commercial outlets and delivers to to over 800 charities for distribution. On a rainy winter's day and in front of 120 hardy souls The Bee's dusted off a couple of old favourites, such as Didn't It Rain & Change in My Life, and performed a brand new number (Save Me Some Grace.)
Winter Soulstice 2016 at St John's Church, Darlinghurst
Late July saw a number of Bees travel to Taree to hold a workshop and perform at a fundraising concert for the Manning Valley Push for Palliative Care group. We held a workshop with about 20 locals during the day and performed in front of about 70 people that evening. A great time was had for a great cause. Thanls to ex-Bee Judy for organising.
A special evening was held on Friday 16th of September for The Bees to celebrate our 20th birthday and to laucnh our first CD - Milk & Honey. We hired The Camelot Lounge in Marrickville and about 90 Bees and ex Bees came along to help us celebrate this milestone. The evening held a few audio visual treats, two sets, a bit of dancing and lots of laughter and reflection on the history of this great group of people - past & present.
Bees' 20th birthday bash at the Camelot Lounge, Marrickville
Our first gig for 2015 was early in April as part of the Musica Viva Festival held at Sydney's Conservatorium of Music. Conducted by Musica Viva's Artistic Director Carl Vine AO, The Honeybees joined selected festival artists and the Australian Youth Orchestra Chamber Players to perform Gavin Bryars' moving piece Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet. The 25 minute performance included images from the book 'Stories from The Wayside'.
The Honeybees with the Australian Youth Chamber Players
The background to the piece is as heart warming as the piece itself "In 1971, British composer Gavin Bryars was working on a documentary film about homeless people living in London. Among the people he recorded was an old man singing a religious song, ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’. Listening at home later, Bryars improvised a simple accompaniment to the first 13 bars of the man’s singing – which later evolved into this 25-minute concert work. The recorded song is repeated throughout, but the instruments and harmonies change. "I was convinced of the emotional power of the music…and a simple, though gradually evolving accompaniment that respected the tramp’s nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism." You can see and hear the concert here - though the sound quality is less than optimal.
Our MD, Steve Clarke, as well as the performers were thrilled and touched to take part in such a fantastic work and the audience feedback was equally effusive. Conductor Carl Vine said "I couldn’t have been happier with the sound and was very impressed with the choir’s balance and professionalism." Other feedback included " ... I was moved to tears ... ", " ... I had never seen it performed with a choir and now can’t imagine it without one" and " ... it was one of the most moving concerts I have ever experienced." Special congratulations to Jo, Jude and Holly for a pretty extraordinary first Honeybees performance! (Steve noted that they shouldn't expect any more artists' lounges with canapés and free drinks!)
We made the local Mudgee press!
In early May, a small number of The Bees embarked on a trip to Mudgee to join in a workshop being run by MD Steve Clark with the Cudgegong Choir. During the course of the afternoon, the Cudgegong Cudgegong Choir impressed us with their ability and enthusiasm to learn four new Gospel songs quick as a flash.
That evening a concert was held where The Cudgegong Choir opened with three beautifully performed songs before the Honeybees took to the stage for a set of ten or so songs. Of particular note were Stephanie, Ama & Jennie stepping in to solo on Jesus Gonna Be Here, Bubbles & Angels, respectively. Welcoming Paul back to sing Peace in the Valley was also a highlight together with Richard's rousing rendition of Never Let Go My Hand. The Cudgegong Choir join us again on stage to perform two of the songs they had mastered that afternoon.
The Winter SOULstice Concert at St John's, Darlinghurst
Held in late June, our Winter SOULstice was another rip-roaring success. This year we raised over $5,400 for the Red Cross Nepal Earthquake Appeal. Once again we held the concert at St John’s Church in Darlinghurst - which is great for acoustics but a little chilly in the middle of winter! We recorded this gig and hope to use a number of tracks on our upcoming CD, so there were quite a few microphones around. Performing to a packed house we had many highlights, including Sara, Peter & Alison’s lovely solos in our interpretation of Paul Kelly’s Meet Me in the Middle of the Air and Holly’s ‘knock ‘em dead’ rendition of the Dolly Parton song I Am Ready arranged for us by former Bee, Fi Lamb.
Jenny singing & Steve conducting
Our Summer Concert was once again held at Sydney Boys' High School, Moore Park. On a beautiful, early December evening, the bumper crowd enjoyed many of the 'old favourites' sprinkled with new additions such as He's My Rock & I Am Ready and some seasonal spice with Last Month of the Year & Glory Manger. Proceeds from the concert went to The Asylum Seeker Centre.
The Bees at the Martin Place Christmas Tree
Our final couple of gigs fro the year were in mid December, when we were invited to take part in the City of Sydney Christmas Program where we sang a number of yuletide favourites at the Christmas Tree in Martin Place.