THE Manama Singers, one of the kingdom’s most iconic community institutions, is back with a blast, recently selling out venues with its festive cheer and proving that nothing beats a touch of romance.
All tickets to the Christmas concert at the Dilmun Club were snapped up more than a week in advance of the meal and music event and the choir, which has more than doubled in size since its show in April, provided a barnstorming performance.
Musical director Jo Mings led from the front with her conductor’s baton and at the end of the performance suddenly came under the spotlight. Her French sweetheart Chris Diciolla, the night’s MC, thanked the choir, the audience and Jo … before dropping on one knee and proposing to her in front of the ecstatic crowd.
The stunned lady said ‘yes’. “I had zero idea!” admitted Jo. “I think I was the last one in the room to realise what was happening too, whilst Chris’ rather extended ‘thank you’ speech was going on. Only when he reached into his pocket did I realise.”
“I’m over the moon, and still extremely elated!”
Jo, 28, from the English town of Rochester in Kent, a portfolio campaign manager, met Chris, 30, an osteopath, in a bar in the French city of Nice in January 2011.
Cool Chris had been planning the proposal for a long time and was overcome by emotion. “I wanted it to be magical for her and it turns out it was for me too!” he said.
“It was all about finding the right moment. I wasn’t sure if she would have appreciated a public proposal. I knew the end of the show was going to be a high energy moment, with the crowd in a festive mood and it being the last show of the week for the choir.
“The choir means so much to Jo. And, although I don’t know every member of the choir as well as she does, she always speaks highly of them. So I know that Jo means a lot to the choir. Although it was in public, she was surrounded by people who support her fully.
“Welling up so early in the speech didn’t make it any easier to deliver, for sure. But the crowd and the choir’s cheers helped me power through. The more they cheered the more it comforted the overwhelming love for Jo I was trying to express.
“To quote my speech, Jo’s just one of those people who ‘has her heart in her hand’ – as you say in French – and she’ll pour her heart into everything she does, including with me.
“I don’t consider myself to be overly romantic, although it may have played a part in wooing her! But I do make sure to remind her that I love her in the little things.”
There was nothing small about the diamond dazzler he placed on her finger and the amazing resurgence of the Manama Singers in numbers and performance.
Jo, as reported earlier in Gulf Weekly, took over the musical director’s role just a year after joining the choir. The Manama Singers also set up a new base at the Dilly, meeting every Tuesday for rehearsals.
Last year, when the Manama Singers played a concert in Manama, GulfWeekly’s reviewer Christine Hassan sadly noted … ‘there were almost more of the choir than audience …’ Its famed ‘wall of sound’ had become little more than a whimper and it looked like the end of the road was beckoning after 45 years.
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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