Every two years, on a weekend as close as possible to February 14th, Cantorum choir departs from its more serious repertoire to put on a Valentines Dinner Concert of light-hearted and ‘romantic’ music.
raditionally, this very popular event has been held at Liston Hall, Marlow. The only problem there was that we could accommodate only 100 guests. This year, an interesting opportunity arose: to collaborate with the John Lewis Partnership and hold the concert at their beautiful Thames-side staff club—the Odney Club in Cookham. Their acoustically excellent dining room could seat 200 guests; their catering department could wine and dine them in grand style. All we had to do was provide a top quality choral programme!
It was indeed both a challenge and a gamble—to double our usual audience for a new event at a new location. And the ticket price was doubled, too, for a lavish ‘black tie’ event with all the trimmings, professionally served.
We needn’t have worried. The evening was a sell-out, and everyone went home having thoroughly enjoyed both the music and the food. The programme began with an intricate upbeat arrangement of Cole Porter’s Let’s do it, followed by the lavish eight part harmonies of Autumn Leaves. If there was a more ‘serious’ side to the evening it came in Eric Whitacre’s hauntingly beautiful Five Hebrew Love Songs and the Five English Folk Songs by Daryl Runswick. But the mood quickly got into jazz and popular rhythms with pieces by George Shearing and then a lively medley from West Side Story. The girls danced their way through Da Do Ron Ron, and the finger-clicking guys accompanied Anthony Dowlatshahi’s magnetic solo performance in Stand by Me. We finished with two smoochy numbers: The Way You Look Tonight and one of our all-time favourites Come What May. Encores, coffee and mints followed, with no one in a hurry to leave until after the bar closed at 11.00. A very enjoyable evening for us, certainly—and for our audience, too, by all accounts!