Why this Lord's test is bound to become a classic

PUBLISHED: 18:22 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 07 September 2010

The ECC at King's College

The ECC at King's College

© Simon Weir 2007

Spectators leaving Lord s at the end of the first day s play in the Test Match against South Africa next Thursday will have an additional option available to avoid the inevitable queuing up at St John s Wood Station.

The English Chamber Choir (one of L

Spectators leaving Lord's at the end of the first day's play in the Test Match against South Africa next Thursday will have an additional option available to avoid the inevitable queuing up at St John's Wood Station.

The English Chamber Choir (one of London's foremost groups of its size) is performing a sequence of 'Songs for Lovers' in St John's Wood Church, on the roundabout immediately opposite the South-East corner of the ground.

The programme will begin at 7.15 and last approximately an hour. The music is a mixture of light classical (Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes and some Mozart), popular show songs (Gershwin, Cole Porter and others) and a set of songs written as a companion piece to the Brahms by the American composer James Sellars: 'Kissing Songs' uses love-poetry from Catullus to Elizabethan English writers, set to modern dance-forms like the Tango and Slow Fox-trot. The Choir have also recorded it, and it has become a firm favourite with their regular followers.

The English Chamber Choir frequently perform in major London venues (they are at the South Bank in September and make regular appearances at St Martin-in-the-Fields with the Belmont Ensemble). They have also presented a number of concerts in St John's Wood Church, and would like to build a more regular following in this beautiful building which, as Churches go, has one of the most adaptable performance spaces of any in the capital.

The Choir's conductor Guy Protheroe, and his wife Ann Manly (who manages the group) have lived for many years in Alma Square (conveniently situated for musicians as it is just a few yards from Abbey Road Studios!). Ann's father was a devoted MCC member for many years until his death, and their son Jonny was coached at the indoor Cricket School while a pupil at nearby Arnold House. As local residents the Protheroes have also been recipients of MCC community initiatives including the offer of tickets to a Twenty/20 match which they enthusiastically took up. They are also well aware of the implications of several thousand enthusiastic spectators flowing into the neighbourhood for major matches, and making their way home afterwards.

So when their preferred concert date turned out to co-incide with a test match, Ann approached MCC to suggest that perhaps it would be in everyone's interest for those cricket fans who are also music-lovers (of which there are many) to be made aware of an opportunity to relax and enjoy some live music on their way home. She was delighted with the positive response, not only from MCC but also Middlesex CCC, who have the publicity material on display. Snatches of the Kissing Songs (two movements of which feature on the Choir's latest CD 'Eclectica') will be found on the Lord's website.

And for those who want to round off the day's cricket with well-deserved refreshment, a glass of wine will be available in the ambulatory adjoining the Church prior to the performance.

So now all that is needed is a good weather forecast! For once it will be singers as well as cricket fans who will be praying for no rain - otherwise their audience will have made a desultory exit to St John's Wood Station well in advance of the performance!

St John's Wood Church is at Lord's Roundabout, London NW8.

Tickets: £12 (concessions £10) to include pre-concert glass of wine or fruit juice. Tel: 020 7286 3944 or visit our website: www.englishchamberchoir.com

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