Friday 27th January, 2012, 2pm – 4.45pm
St. Columba’s Church, Pont Street, SW3
We presented an afternoon cabaret of short works in many different art forms to celebrate the thirty-five year record of ground-breaking arts promotion at Lyth. This record had been marked by its founder and director, William Wilson being awarded an MBE in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, and as he had been to Buckingham Palace the day before for his investiture this seemed like the occasion to show off some of the joys of Lyth.This event was held primarily as a promotion for the benefit of those who have an interest in knowing about our work but who don’t have the opportunity to travel to Scotland’s most northerly mainland county to do so. In just one afternoon, the cabaret included work in three different genres of live theatre and four genres of live music. There was even part of one of our recent exhibitions on show. The bill included some of the many artists who have performed at Lyth over the years and others who are about to do so.
As audience members arrived they were invited to take part in a quiz based on David Usborne’s Lyth exhibition “Objectivity”.
Pianist Christopher Guild arrived fresh from his debut at the Purcell Room as part of the Park Lane Group New Year 2012 series. He gave a brilliant rendition of CPE Bach’s “La Folie d’Espane” as a rousing start to the cabaret.
Gifted actor Andrew Harrison escaped for the afternoon from the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, where he was then appearing each night in a double bill of two diverse plays by Caithness playwright Murray Watts. Without any props, staging or lighting he gave us an entrancing extract of the play “Mr. Darwin’s Tree” with which Murray Watts has had great success at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. We were delighted that Murray was in the audience to take a bow.
Singer and pianist Janet Seidel gave a delightful tribute to jazz singer Blossom Dearie, accompanied by Chuck Morgan (guitar) and David Seidel (bass).
Lyth was one of the first UK venues to latch on to this amazing Australian talent and over eight years invited her back on three occasions. So it was a moment of pride for the venue that Janet has since had a sell-out performance at Ronnie Scott’s Club on Sunday, 12th February thereby securing her position as a world-class performer – a great coup!
After an interval for tea and scones, the animated audience of fifty people settled down to enjoy Virginia Ironside (stand-up comedienne) in an extract from her hilarious and moving show “The Virginia Monologues – Why Growing Old Is Great” directed by Nigel Planer. After her success at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe and subsequent UK tour she will be returning in 2012.
Picking up on Virginia’s theme of old age, compère William Wilson asked the audience to reflect for a few minutes on how lucky they were to be still alive. Other artists of his generation such as his friend Derek Jarman whom many in the room could remember were no longer with us and just the week before, Emmanuel Cooper, the eminent potter and writer had died. Both these artists had had exhibitions at Lyth.
Martin Weightman (jazz pianist) then gave a performance of two of his own compositions accompanied by Scottish percussionist Stu Ritchie.
Violin player Chris Garrick, a popular Lyth regular, then gave a passionate solo performance before hurrying away to appear on stage that evening at Pizza Express. He described Lyth as (despite the long journey to get to it) worth the trip as it’s such a special place!
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the afternoon was the lively piece of action theatre put on by arts correspondent Sarah Kent who, after compiling the visual arts pages of Time Out for over thirty years is now exploring a totally new art form and has embraced it with absolute confidence. This was probably the high point of the show.
The afternoon ended on a high note with a jazz quartet of Damon Brown (trumpet), Leon Greening (piano), Adam King (bass) and Stu Ritchie (percussion) playing the audience out with a version of the jazz standard “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins.
The Centre is most grateful to St. Columba’s Church for the use of the hall.