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 Choir impressed us with their ability and enthusiasm to learn four new Gospel songs quick as a flash.
The Honeybees performing with the Cudgegong Choir
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 redition of Never Let Go My Hand. The Cudgegong Choir joined 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.
Jennie 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.