The second half of the concert commenced as usual and just as she waved her hand at Helen to play the opening bars of "Cwm Rhondda" something totally different came from the piano. Later Jan herself admitted that she knew the piece of music from somewhere, but couldn’t remember the words! That is, until the Choir began to sing “Happy Birthday” and with rapturous applause Gareth Evans walked on stage holding a cake with lit candles. Jan’s face was an absolute picture and it made for a lovely moment in the Choir’s tour down under.
On Saturday the Choir undertook an hour long journey to the Riverside Hotel in Brisbane. Given the immense popularity of the evening concert, it was decided to hold a matinee performance also, with some of the proceeds coming to the Choir funds. Andrew Kay had also flown into town to attend the performance and make a sizeable donation of around $2,000 to the bar bill at the end-of-tour party! The choristers made the most of it!
The morning was spent in leisurely fashion before rehearsals were called at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) on the River Brisbane. The scene could not have been more perfect for such a major auditorium, which was undoubtedly one of the best concert halls acoustically in the entire country. Massive investment has also been made to the building, which improved the acoustics still further.
With such a perfect system the concert hall was filled with some magical sounds in the afternoon show and the audience were clearly overjoyed by the performance as they called for several encores during the latter part of the programme. For the next two hours choristers relaxed in the Green Room, enjoyed a full meal and basically recharged the batteries before the 8pm curtain call for the evening performance.
It would be impossible to say whether this was one of the finest concert performances by the Choir in its long and illustrious history. But for those men who stood on stage that night, in the glare of the spotlights, with 2,000 adoring fans hanging onto their every note, it was readily agreed that this was probably the best concert any of those present had ever performed. From the first note, the standard of the performance was just faultless. Jan Ball led her troops with an inspiring confidence that encouraged them to give the very best. Helen was superb as accompanist, while David’s performance of the Vidor’s "Toccata" resulted in a near standing ovation. As always Iona’s performance, particularly of "O Mio Babino Caro" broke the hearts of one and all. Dean kept the whole evening running smoothly with his witticisms and good humour. As for the Choir itself? From the delicate pianissimos to the rousing fortes, the blend of voices created one of the most majestic sounds.
Then there was the audience. And what an audience it was. A mass of red, with waving flags and Welsh dragons all around, the crowd brought many of us to tears with the thunderous applause for each and every song. It would be impossible to name every song that created this electrifying reaction, suffice to say that they all did in one way or another. But as always, "Pearlfishers", "Llef", "Les Miserables", "Cwm Rhondda", "Finlandia", "Abba", "Men of Harlech" and "My Way" received the loudest applause. When they sang "Nessun Dorma" they received a standing ovation from the entire concert hall audience. "We’ll Keep A Welcome" again brought the audience to its feet and with "Advance Australia Fair" and "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" to come, they left the stage with the sound of applause, stamping of feet and cheers ringing in their ears.
Walking into the Green Room was a deeply emotional experience. Choristers stared at one another through teary eyes, united in the common knowledge that this had indeed been exceptional. It was a feeling of exhilaration, yet none could cheer. It was also a deeply humbling experience and one of satisfaction that they had given their best in the name of the Choir. The end-of-tour party was held in The Fox Hotel close to the QPAC building. Andrew Kay ensured plenty of alcohol was made available as they crowded into the bar.