Our first two gigs of the year had two common themes - weddings & surprises.

The first was a private wedding function held in the lovely surrounds of Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens for Claire & Ben.  The surprise in the instance was for Ben & the guests as Claire had organised for a gospel choir to appearing from behind trees singing Oh! Happy Day followed by Never Let Go My Hand. 

Post Flash Swarm Bees raise a toast to Marc & Dani

The second 'Flash Swarm' was a proposal by Marc to Dani at a restaurant in Surry Hills - much to the amusement and enjoyment of regular diners.  The Bees performed an original piece penned by Mark and 'massaged' by JJ into a Jazz/Gospel number.  All went without a hitch and Dani said yes so we were pleased to finish with Kevin leading Oh! Happy Day rather then the skulking out the back door to the strains of Oh! Crappy Day if Dani's response had been in the negative!

In early May we sang at The Women's Night of Spirituality at St Mary Magedalene's Church, Rose Bay.  As in the past, it was a night of fascinating stories from guest speakers Sandy Gore (the distinguished actor), Dr Robin Morrow (The National President of IBBY and passionate advocate of children's literature) and Cecilia Rice (Australian author of "Always Liza to Me", which describes the experience of growing up in a family with a severely disabled child and the impact of this on family relationships.)  The Bees injected a good dose of foot stomping music with Never Let Go My Hand, Shine, Bubbles & How I Got Over.

Late May once again saw the Bees perform at the Red Cross Organ Donors & Recipients Annual Service, held at the Wesley Centre in Sydney.  In what is always a moving service we heard from the mother of an organ donor, the recipient of donated lungs and words from various medical professional from different faiths.  The Bees added to the Lily in the Valley, Down In The River To Pray & for the first public outing Shed a Little Light.

Red Cross Organ Donors Service

In early June, The Bees joined the Sydney Street Choir and a number of other choirs at the SSC's fundraising concert – A Sunday Serenade. Proceeds from the concert will help the SSC fund a theatre production in late June. The five fabulous choirs performed an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary acappella music at the Annandale Creative Arts Centre.

Kate sings Room at the Inn

Our annual Winter Soulstice Concert warmed souls and got feet tapping.   This year's concert was once again for the benefit of The Wayside Chapel , more specifically for the roof garden on top of their brand new building in King's Cross.  This was our first performance in Glebe for quite some time and was our first time at St Scholatica's College Drama Theatre which proved to be a great venue and accommodated the 130 or so audience with ease creating a comfortable yet intimate concert.  We had a few new songs including a debut for Amanda singing Every Day will be Sunday as well as group songs Freedom is Coming, Shed a Little Light and All Night & All Day.  It was a great concert at a wonderful venue on a perfectly sunny Sydney winter afternoon.


 2011 Winter Soulstice Concert, Glebe 

Saturday July 16 saw The Bees back in the familiar surrounds of St Johns in Darlinghurst, supporting the fundraiser for Heal Creative Therapy. It was a privilege to sing with great choirs like Cafe of the Gate of Salvation and Another Roadside Attraction, and the high energy massed choir numbers lit a roaring fire on a very chilly night. Our own set included Every Day will be Sunday, There is Room at the Inn, Love Bubbles Over and Shed a Little Light, with solos from Amanda, Kate, Sue and Steve. The event raised about $2000 for HEAL's music and art therapy work in Queensland, which had been seriously disrupted by the floods earlier this year.

On the last day of July, The Bees were thrilled to sing at the opening service of the new, improved Wayside Chapel in King's Cross. This was an open service (like none you would have been to before) led by Pastor Graham Long. The Bees have a particular connection with Wayside including fund raising and having sung at the closing service of the old building. We sang Every Day will be Sunday, Room At the Inn, Bubbles & Shed A little Light. At the request of Graham we finished the service with a rousing rendition of How I Got Over. A beautiful service, surrounded by the warmest of people in a wonderful new building on a glorious Sydney Winter day!   We hope to be there at the official opening (surrounded by dignitaries) when the second stage of works is complete in 2012.

 A group shot at Kevin's prior to the July Wayside Gig

The last weekend in August saw The Bees perform at The Blackheath Choir Festival.  The festival featured a wide range of choirs singing everything from opera to comedy,classical to pop and politcal to gospel.  The festival was not a competition but rather a celebration of music.  The Bees sang Prayer, I'll Fly Away, I Love The Lord, Down in the River to Pray, Every Day will be Sunday and Shed a Little Light - all to rapturous applause! 

JJ conducts Down in the River

On a gloriously sunny day In mid September, The Bees performed as the guest choir at the Australian National Maritime Museum Welcome Wall ceremony, which involves the unveiling of new names included on the Museum’s Welcome Wall over the previous six months. The ceremony includes speeches by the Director, Chair, Guest Speakers and a number of newly included participants and a musical set by a choir and roving performers. The event has run for 12 years and is attended by families and friends of newly included wall inductees that this year attracted over 700 people.  The thirty minute set included many of our usual repertoire but had the added, requested songs I am Australian & The National Anthem

Performing at The Welcome Wall Ceremony, Darling Harbour

In early November we held our first ever Gospel Groove Workshop, in conjunction with Sydney Community College at their Rozelle campus. This was a roaring success with over 30 participants spending the day with 15 or so Bees, learning via an audio/visual presentation, about the linkages of Gospel Music to the emancipation of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. In addition, participants heard the Bees sing, and most importantly, learnt a number of Gospel songs that tied in with the historical piece - given by Bees member Ladd Wheeler. Some of the participants will be joining The Bees on stage at our Summer Gig to sing a couple of the songs they have learnt. The workshop is sure to be an event that we will hold again in the near future.


Steve leads the workshop


Mid November saw a small swarm of Bees perform at the annual Danceability concert - held at the Science Theatre at the University of New South Wales.  With the evil triumvirate of traffic jams, train problems and bad weather only 10 or so of us were able to get there to sing Love Just Bubbles Over and Happy Day.  The Bees were very much background material to the wonderful performances from the children.  A fantastic event that we were all touched to be a part of.

Our end of year concert was once again held at Sydney Boys' High in Moore Park.  With over 200 people attending we were able to raise in excess of $6,000 for our nominated charity - The Black Dog Institute.  This concert was one of our best ever and included old favourites as well as new songs and new soloists - most notably Paul singing Peace in the Valley.  We were also joined for a number of songs by some of the participants who took part in the Gospel Groove Workshop.


Audience get to join in as Steve teaches them I've Got Freedom on my Mind