Sunday 24 April 2016

DEBRA Ball 23 April 2016

The Palace Hotel is undergoing some refurbishment. We enter now from the side. An already complicated building has become even more puzzling. Yet it retains its dignity and purposefulness. It is elegant and about to become even more so.

We gather in a room just off the temporary entrance. We’re only expecting eighteen members today. It is Saturday, St George’s Day, Passover, two days after the Queen’s 90th birthday and there’s a lot going on. We count parts as they come in. More sopranos than any other group but that is perhaps the way it should be. There’s a good balance of the other parts. It’s also wise to remember that all the people who have rehearsed with us but who can’t be here tonight are still part of what happens.   

 “Come on. Let’s go sing,” says Jeff at 6.20, just five minutes after our meet-up time. We make our way into the bar. There are only a few people there so we are heard. A few listen as well. We’re fine with that. We were only ever meant to be ambient music and we know we’re better than muzak.        

More and more of the ball guests arrive. They’re offered a glass of champagne on arrival. That’s nice to watch but we’re a tad envious.

Half way through an old  favourite, Love is the Sweetest Thing, Jeff disappears. Huh? No matter. We remember to quicken up and then slow down again in the final part. He returns just as we end.

“Okay, folks,” he says. “Let’s move into the foyer. It’s quieter there. We can sing to them as they arrive.”

Other hotel guests are bemused at first and then appreciative. Our rendition of  Viva la Musica seems to impress and we get those lovely echoes in this high-ceilinged and tiled environment  
Twenty minutes or so later the DEBRA guests start moving from the bar to the room where they’ll eat dinner. We serenade them with I Know Him so Well, a new one for us but that we now know quite well.

“It’ll put them in the mood,” says Jeff. “They’ll be generous later.”

We hope so.

We’ve now sung solidly for an hour and ten minutes. We’re tired but pleased: despite being only eighteen strong we made a good sound. As we gather our coats and bags we’re ushered back into the bar by the hotel staff. They set out tables, chairs and champagne glasses. A pleasant young waitress fills up the glasses.

“I think that’s everyone, now,” says one of the sopranos.

“Well my boss said to do twenty glasses.” She carries on pouring. 

Relaxing with a glass or two of bubbles

We were only ever eighteen and some have sloped off: other commitments and run-out parking beckon. Some people therefore get a glass and half. We are grateful. It’s a nice gesture and gives us a chance to be sociable for half an hour.

We hope our efforts have helped DEBRA with the important work they do. DEBRA is the national charity working on behalf of people in the UK with the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).