Our annual Winter Warmer concert, was a joint event with Polina Shepherd and her fantastic Yiddish and Russian Choirs, from Brighton and Hove and London.
Held in Lewes, at the All Saints Centre on Sunday 1st December, the concert opened with Jamal and Alaa, and guest percussion from their new friend Laurie, who we met at a gig in Hastings. The first time they met, Laurie asked if he could get on stage and play percussion on one song and they've been playing together since. The group where very well received by a full house.
The next act was the premier performance of new group: The Sussex Syrian Dervish Ensemble
The ensemble is a new project set up by Jamal and his friend Ahmed. When I was starting to first get to know Jamal in 2016, he'd mentioned being in a Sufi group in Syria, and shown me videos on youtube. He's been wanting to start something similar in the UK since then, and both him Ahmed and the rest the rest of the group have put in a huge effort to get it established, so it was a real honour to have them on the bill. The music consisted of a choir and percussion, accompanied by 4 whirling Dervish dancer, it was a spectacular show, which judging from the crowd response, everyone loved.
After a short break, during which people had snacks and tea from the Russian food stall, and Syrian sweets made by Riam and Manal, the final acts of the night were the 4 choirs run by Polina. There are Yiddish and Russian choirs from London and Brighton and Hove, and members from all four performed, firstly with a set by the combined Yiddish choirs, then the Russian ones. Both sets were an exciting mix, with some slow sad songs and some real joyous celebratory moments with uptempo folk song that had the audience singing and clapping along. It really created a great atmosphere, and was an enjoyable way to bring the event to an end.
A huge thanks to everyone who helped and to all the people in the audience who clearly appreciated the music. Apologies to anyone who couldn't get tickets, the event sold out very quickly, but we've already decided to do another in 2020.