Cypriot Delight

Of all the exhibits in Limassol castle, this haubregon de fer stood out as being symbolic of our visit to Cyprus to sing The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins (thanks to Catherine Slater for the photo)



The Cypriot Delight, the first event of 2024, launched our 50th anniversary year in style. A haze of Saharan dust marred the warm weather in the first couple of days, but we were seldom still enough to notice. Our packed schedule included rehearsals, sightseeing and a simply marvellous concert at Nicosia’s Strovolos Municipal Theatre on Sunday 28th April.

The Armed Man (by Sir Karl Jenkins) is not an easy sing. Furthermore, the deadening acoustic of a hotel conference room (carpets, curtains, low ceiling, etc, not to mention unreliable electrical connections) rather dampened the first rehearsal. But by the time we finished the tutti rehearsal on Sunday afternoon it was a totally different story. With the bonus of fantastic playing from the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra, a boost from their own small choir and the wonderfully expressive singing of soloist Emily Gray, The Really Big Chorus did itself proud. 

Much of this was also due to the constant encouragement and commitment of TRBC Principal Conductor, Brian Kay. He drew every ounce of drama from the score, and held everyone’s attention throughout, directing a performance which brought out the best in both singers and players. In his own words: ‘… of the twelve performances of The Armed Man I’ve been lucky enough to conduct, none has meant so much’. He also paid warm tribute to the young players in the orchestra. ‘How incredible that an island with such a small population could produce orchestral playing on that level.’

This was reputed to be the largest gathering of classical musicians ever to assemble in Cyprus, with a sell-out evening concert.

Much hard work was done before, during and after by our own ‘overseas team’ of Annie & Tony Hastings. Additionally, we must thank repetiteur Andrew Parnell, the orchestra assistant’s conductor Gareth Griffiths and Specialised Travel tour manager Vanessa Kyriacou. Among Vanessa’s colleagues were STL founder Richard Savage, with his wife Carol and daughter Poppy. We are delighted that Poppy will be playing an increasingly significant role in future TRBC singing holidays.

When not singing we explored the history and culture of Cyprus. We enjoyed trips to museums and archaeological sites, a wine-tasting, and simply enormous and never-ending meze lunches where the food just kept on coming!

Take a look at the photos which include a terrific set taken during the concert by the orchestra’s photographer. Singers’ feedback to follow.

Feedback from our singers:

‘I do not think I could have had a more brilliant introduction to TRBC singing holidays.’ (Alison C.)
‘The concert was fantastic, with the Youth Orchestra so enthusiastic and talented. The organisation, the hotel and the rehearsal were simply perfect. Looking forward to future adventures!’ (Marianne S.)
‘I would like to thank Specialised Travel and all the team of The Really Big Chorus for a fabulous week in Cyprus – a truly memorable holiday.’ (Liz S.)
‘What a privilege to sing behind that truly wonderful youth orchestra and youth choir in Cyprus; the organisers at Specialised Travel have excelled yet again.’ (Jennifer D.)
‘The whole thing felt so warm, friendly and collaborative, and the concert was joyous with those wonderful young performers. You should be very proud!’ (Alice D.)

To sum up: another wonderful trip with friends old and new.  We look forward now to Vienna in December (commemorating the moment of Mozart’s death with a concert starting at midnight) and the Costa del Sol in March 2024.

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