I had the great privilege of waiting backstage as the orchestra played the overture to Carmen to start the evening. My part of the performance was to start after the overture, when I would go on stage and tell the audience a little about our charity and our plans for the future. With me backstage were Sopranos Louise Crane and Cheryl Enever and Tenor Daniel Meades. Louise and Cheryl, both beautiful and elegant in equal measure and Daniel, immaculately dressed and oozing confidence.

As the music started our Sopranos started moving to the music, a silent dance, Daniel joined in, all three were glowing, their smiles told me to join in… or risk a silent elbow! so of course I did. The Carmen overture finished and I heard Maestro, Director of Music and Conductor Paul Showell introduce me, I entered the stage to warm applause from what was now an excited and expectant audience. Behind me were 250 performing artists, the Eltham College Choir, the Eltham College Choral Society, the London Festival Sinfonia and our conductor Paul Showell.

I told our audience a little about our charity, our aims and ambitions, and asked them to be as generous as possible when leaving the hall. They were generous, extremely generous, and our bucket collection raised four times our target, thank you all so much.

Paul then introduced our Narrator, Ian Belsey. Ian guided us through the programme, helping us to understand the music and adding a little history where necessary in a humorous and informative way
from start to finish, Carmen to Finicull, Finicalar, we all experienced a magical performance of the highest quality by our solo artists, the London Festival Sinfonia, the Eltham Choral Society and the Eltham College Choir. It was a remarkable performance by any standard and we have been overwhelmed by messages of congratulation to the point that I will share one letter with you;

“I found the concert on Sunday at the Cadogan Hall by the Eltham College Choirs and the London Festival Sinfonia a revelation. The Cadogan Hall seat and sight lines were comfortable and perfect, and the acoustics were excellent (also endorsed by Valery Gergiev no less, the great Russian conductor of the Marinsky Theatre of St Petersburg).

The concert began with the rousing overture to Carmen, followed by a great selection of operatic favourites from Nabucco, Tales of Hoffman, La Traviata, Smetana etc, etc.

When the orchestra and the audience are so close, the musical experience becomes powerful and uplifting in the extreme. In forty years of going to The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden I have never heard the choruses from Nabucco and Smetana so overwhelming or the anvil chorus from Il Travatore so electrifying.

The wonderful orchestra and magnificent choir sent rippling waves of musical power and energy into a very grateful audience. The excellent soloists gave beautiful renderings from Delibes, Handel and Offenbach’s Barcarolle with a Master of Ceremonies giving us delightful and interesting musical snippets to entertain us. It ended with the famous drinking song from La Traviata in which the whole company and audience joined in. Above all, the enthusiasm and passion of maestro Paul Showell who led and galvanised the whole evening to a momentous and unforgettable musical experience and a wonderful night to remember and for all of us the great privilege of being there”.