Monday, October 19, 2009

Saint Hill Gala Charity Concert 2009: Outstanding!

(click on the images to see them full size)All the members of the nearly 2,000-strong audience I spoke to after the concert (that took place in an enormous and lavishly decorated marquee at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, West Sussex) were blown away! It was an incredible evening, MC'ed by Hollywood actress, Anne Archer!

Chick Corea improvising alone

Chick Corea with Hossam Ramzy and Mark Isham

The Jive Aces: Vince Hurley goes headless
Photo by: Hy Money

The Jive Aces: high energy

The Jives Aces with Swing Xtreme

John Fordham and Ian Clarkson of The Jive Aces come up front

Alexander Markov

Mark Isham plays the James Bond theme tune

It's become somewhat of a tradition that the concert starts with a mellow trumpet piece by Academy Award-nominated trumpeter and film composer, Mark Isham. This year was no exception; and what an opening number it was, with Mark's version of the James Bond theme music.

Next up was the American multi-platinum award-winning singer, composer, lyricist, recording artist and Emmy Award nominee, David Pomeranz, whose professionalism and genuine emotion just poured out of him! His opening song, "I learned it all from you" was superb.

Next to take to the stage was award-winning soul and blues singer, Mina Tank who opened with a superb version of "La Bamba". She told me afterwards that it was the version from the film "August Rush". Her version of "I can't stand the rain" was also wonderful. The rain sound created by percussionist Hossam Ramzy was so real! The instrument looked like a tube about 3 feet long - anyone know what it's called?

Another outstanding performer to grace the stage was internationally celebrated violin virtuoso, Alexander Markov who I now know (thanks to Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and Vark) played Paganini's 24 Caprices Opus 1, No. 24 in A minor and No. 1 in E major and Vivaldi - Concerto No.2 In G Minor, Rv 315 'summer' - III Presto. He demonstrated pure mastery of his instrument with a spellbinding performance.

Gospel/blues singer and Christan preacher (Christians and Scientologists working together - nice!), Jesse Stevenson, got us tapping our feet again. He puts SO much feeling into everything he sings - I fear if he put in any more, he might explode! (It was Jesse plus choir - one member of which was my son, Harry - who closed the IAS Event on Friday with "Shoulder to Shoulder"). His "It's a man's world" was out of this world, then he gently slipped into Stevie Wonder's version of "For once in my life".

The Saint Hill Gala Charity Concert continues the tradition of supporting local and national committees and charities that L. Ron Hubbard began when he lived at Saint Hill Manor in the 1960s. So then came the cheque presentations and acceptance speeches of the five chosen charities, who were each awarded £10,000:
It is clear from the speeches that the £50,000 will go a long way and help these charities a great deal, and in the case of the Sussex Air Ambulance, even contribute towards saving many lives.

The Jive Aces then got us back into the swing (excuse the pun) with their very silly yet highly professional and extremely energetic performance. Two of their numbers were accompanied by amazing dancers from Swing Xtreme.

Then came multiple Grammy Award-winning American jazz pianist (read 'legend'), Chick Corea, who bedazzled us with his incredible keyboard skills and improvisation abilities which just flowed out of him - first on his own, then together with Mark Isham, and lastly with both Mark and Hossam Ramzy, the renown Egyptian percussionist, composer and music arranger. The piece they played was so perfect, you would have thought they had been rehearsing it for weeks - but they were actually making it up as they went along!

The last number, "Stand by Me", was performed as a grand finale by all those who took part in the concert which included Elena Roggero (I'm a big fan!).

It was a unforgettable evening of such talent and beauty, blasted at the audience at full pelt. After the concert, pretty much everyone was talking about what an incredible show we all just experienced! To all those I invited who couldn't make it: now do you see what you are missing? Make sure you keep the date of next year's concert free, which I imagine will either be on 17 or 24 Oct 2010.

Thanks are given to the following companies for their generosity:

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