THE festive season doesn’t really start in the kingdom until the Manama Singers have stepped out on stage … and this year’s Christmas Concert was more special than most.
As reported in the GDN, the event marked the golden jubilee of one of the kingdom’s most iconic community institutions.
Avid choral singer and founder Keith Bickle, who started it all in the early 1970s, flew back from the UK to join the party, reminisce and share the baton with music director Jo Diciolla.
Fifty years on, and the Manama Singers did not disappoint a packed audience of music lovers and revellers at the Dilmun Club by producing a performance as piping hot as the cauliflower, blue cheese and almond soup served up on the accompanying festive menu.
Cleverly, the night’s programme was split into four parts allowing plenty of time for the audience to eat and chat between vocal courses, and then concentrate on and, at times, join in with the sing-along carols.
The show opened with a rousing African Noel, with the singers superbly accompanied by the rhythmic drumming of percussionists Antony Varghese and Sayonji Simon.
Talented pianist Tom Matthias almost played a memorable part throughout the evening and should be congratulated.
On a small note of advice, a couple of the numbers needed quiet to fully appreciate and may be best left out of the programme on such occasions and settings in the future. It was time to let rip and produce a wall of sound.
When Mr Bickle, who has conducted at some of the most esteemed settings back in the UK, took his turn, it allowed Ms Diciolla to step back into the choir to delight the audience with a solo or two and it’s a shame we don’t get to hear more of her lovely voice … maybe something to consider in the New Year.
The audience was here to have fun and they certainly did that when it came to the party-piece of 12 Days of Christmas with the table full of French women sitting next to this reviewer winning the prize for the loudest party of the night.
Merry Christmas everyone!
– Stanley Szecowka