Dear Hearts,

Here I am again, writing to you as 2015 draws to a close. I have a special event that I’m presenting, to draw to your attention:

  • A Christmas Concert at St Mark’s Church Clerkenwell, Mydellton Square, London EC1 1XX at 1.00 pm on Monday, 21st of December, 2015. I shall be singing songs from oratorios, song cycles and other Christmas themed art songs, accompanied by Thomas Kell on piano and organ. The Church’s website is as follows – stmarks-clerkenwell.co.uk ; You can buy tickets in advance from info@juwonogungbe.com

2015 has been an emotional rollercoaster of a year for me. Some of my highlights of the year include my appearance at Wilton’s Music Hall, performing my own score to a screening of the silent movie, Siliva The Zulu (1927); Projects with Iroko Theatre Company; My debut at Glastonbury 2015; Some amazing creative work with young people and teachers at Grafton Primary School, including a devised music theatre project for Black History Month about Queen Idia of Ancient Benin, plus the opportunity I was given to direct a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III, which was presented at The Shaw Theatre as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival.

I also contributed music (and advice on other matters) to the development work on a new adaptation of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, which was renamed Iyalode of Eti in its new reincarnation and played to packed houses at Rich Mix and The ArcolaTheatre.

I feel as if I have blossomed into becoming a theatre maker-manager, in the grand old tradition of Yoruba and British actor managers. This is obviously the call of destiny, as I can’t say it was what I planned for, or dreamt of in the past.

In December 2015, I will be busy rehearsing and performing in several Nativity Plays and Carol Services. The children I work with help me to find fresh ways of perceiving things. Their excitement and sense of expectation at Christmas time has inspired me to prepare the song recital programme for December 21st.

I’ve also been invited to perform with the Ukranian composer-pianist, Alla Sirenko in a semi-staged presentation of highlights from her opera for children The Golden Penguin, which will be presented at the Ukranian Cathedral Hall, 21 Binney Street (close to Bond Street Tube Station) on December 12th. I’ll be singing the role of General Bear Freen, apparently inspired by the former Soviet President – Leonid Brezhnev.

The lunchtime Christmas Concert at St Mark’s Church Clerkenwell (just behind Sadlers Wells Theatre) on December 21st is my ultimate labour of love for this festive season, however. I’m teaming up once more with Thomas Kell (formerly of Tiata Fahodzi – a leading African British theatre company) to perform an ambitious, yet celebratory programme featuring arias from Handel’s Messiah, art songs from Dvorak’s Biblical Songs and other Christmas themed songs by Faure, Vaughan Williams, Cornelius, Ireland and several others. It’s a pleasure to prepare a recital programme again after so long.

The Church is close to the main shopping area in Islington, so I hope you will take some time out from the Christmas shopping scrum to spend some time with Thomas and me. CDs of my album Life Force Music will be available for sale there. I expect to record and release a new album in 2016.

I’ll leave you with the words of Mel Torme (also memorably sung by Nat King Cole) – Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you!

Compliments of the season.

Juwon

www.juwonogungbe.com