Winter Concert  – Sleigh Ride  – Künstlerhaus am Lenbachplatz

Written by Rona Murray, Emily Burnell Petrou and Curtis Rossi

A week after the ‘longest journey’ to Hasenbergl, ESME – the orchestra, singers and big band –  were back, now inside the melted city centre for the Christmas celebration concert at the Künstlerhaus. Chandeliers were there to remind us of the earlier icy peaks on the street, but inside all was warm with everyone ready to enjoy themselves: audience and performers!

The orchestra, under Alonzo Barrett’s sharp leadership, started the show with delightful selections from the  “Nutcracker Suite”, the eponymous “Sleigh Ride” and a soaring “Walking in the Air”.  The singers then joined the orchestra to start their set with the “Hallelujah Chorus”, which is usually the showstopper! Fortunately, it wasn’t the time to get one’s coat and leave but, instead, a quick change of chairs brought on the full programme.  Julia Chalfin, directing the choir in her first season, expertly brought to life the wonderful, atmospheric, “Lux Arumque” (Whiteacre), filling the hall, which held its breath to the wonderful, soaring solo from Yara Boustani. This was followed by several step changes of Christmas mood, including lively, jazz inflections via Léa Venisse’s bright piano beats on “Jingle Bells”, “Deck the Hall” and “Angels Singing”, where Thomas Padel’s glowing tenor solo lit the way for us.  A different energy filled the quieter moments of “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen”  – one of the pieces to be sung a-cappella – alongside “Silent Night”.  When it was time to let rip, we let rip, opening up with guitars (Didier Caneilles and Curtis Rossi) and percussion (Christian Brandel  and Kerry Wake-Dyster) on “Ocho Kandelikas”, with a beautiful, bell-like solo by Jana Huß, supported by Gen Cory’s cheeky kazoo.  For the encore, the whole choir showed their own cheeky kazoo potential!  You had to be there!  

Now the show really had to stop. “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel” (Trotta) brought together the lightness of Katie LeClair’s angelic soprano solo and Victor Galea’s colourful tenor with the chorus’s pulsating rhythm.  What a joyous last note: as if the choir were all that mattered. But, on stage, we can hear all the audience’s own notes – applause, kind bravos – beautiful music, to finish every song!  So, the perfect way to end the singer’s set was Julia’s caroling-sing-a-long with the audience and singers all together. The Resident Alien Big Band then took to the stage and sustained the merry mood with “All of Me”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, “Feliz Navidad” and “The Nearness of You”, plus a superb guest appearance by Caro Kelley, giving us what we all want for Christmas, wonderful music. 

We are currently rehearsing for this year’s Spring Showcase (28 April at Einstein Kultur, 4 pm) and our summer concert (13 July at Kulturzentrum Trudering, time TBA) and tickets will be available at this link: Our popular Resident Alien Big Band is also performing at two events this coming June: the 13th will be at Lost Weekend and on the 16th they’ll be returning to a gig at the”Tanzserenade”. And let’s not forget the annual crowd pleaser, Munich Sessions Summer Fest on 4 August (all times TBA). For further updates, and to book this talented ensemble for your event, please check their website: