São Brás Hidroavião (by BFP) 0924.jpg

Poor Allgarve event

Dear Editor, My wife and I attended the Allgarve’11 music concert with the London Gospel Choir on Saturday night at Silves Castle.

The setting was spectacular with the backdrop of the ramparts of the historic castle.  But the choir’s concert fell short of what we would have expected as a highlight event on the Allgarve programme for 2011.

The programme was scheduled to start at 10pm (although the ticket stated 9.30pm), but did not get underway until 10.40pm.

An announcer told us just before 10pm that there would be a delay of 30 minutes because of problems with the sound equipment, due to the high temperatures on the castle esplanade earlier in the day.  

By 10.30pm, the audience was getting impatient and there were eruptions of slow-hand clapping. When the choir eventually came onto stage, there were scant apologies from the leader to the audience (many who had been sitting waiting for over an hour-and-a-half)  for the delays, which he said were caused by problems with the choir’s flight from Holland earlier in the day.  

I was disappointed that the choir lacked professionalism and showed little respect for the event and the audience, including the many Portuguese families with young children as well as British residents and holidaymakers, like ourselves.

The programme was blasé and ad-hoc, and appeared to lack any planned format.    

There was a lack of variety in the repertoire, most of the songs were raucous and repetitive, with long, seemingly never-ending, renditions of chorus-lines with lots of enforced audience participation and ‘happy clappy’ activity.

At times, I wondered if the choir really wanted to be in the Algarve – they talked about their ‘sell out’ night in Holland the evening before and big engagements they had to rush back to in the UK the following day.  

And to crown it all, they laboured a sole request number for a Spanish visitor to the concert – why was there no request for anyone from Portugal, the host country for the concert?

There were glimmers of the outstanding performance the London Gospel Choir can achieve.

Unfortunately, a solo rendition of Amazing Grace by an impressive young singer was marred when she forgot her lines and had to be assisted by the choir leader.

The choir’s supporting musicians on guitar, drums and keyboard were excellent. The choir said they looked forward to coming back to the Algarve – I hope they will redeem themselves on their next visit.

Finally, the Allgarve organisers need to think about the supporting facilities for events attracting many hundreds of paying visitors.

Two portable – and smelly – toilets, with no toilet paper or paper towels is totally unacceptable for visitors, many of whom had travelled some distance and were in the castle grounds for over three hours.  Why were the first class toilet facilities at the castle closed and out of bounds?

JOHN BROWN, by email