Tag Archives: choir

St Oswald Singers – 30 years and counting

There remains an element of debate as to when the St Oswald Singers first started. The assumed start date was the Westbury roof appeal in 1985, but some founder members seem to think it was earlier. After that appalling name stuck (once uttered Peter Steer, there was no going back), the more marketable sobriquet Razor Sharp (thanks Barbie) enabled a more flexible approach to concerts. The strapline ‘Versicles, canticles and test pieces’ is also now part of the furniture.

The current and original members got back together in Westbury in October to raise money for the church again, complete with Wind in the Willows and lots of cake. We were also joined by the next generation of singers to help boost us in the second half.

Briefly shown also Sarah’s 50th party the day before to get us in the mood, and the now usual Advent gathering at Compton Greenfield.

Who knows where we will be (of if we will be) in 2045. Hopefully we might still be singing.

 

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Infant Holy – Southern Voices Christmas concert

Infanf holy

Once again Southern Voices will usher in Christmas in the atmospheric surroundings of St Cross Church, where we hope that the audience will enjoy — and join in with — a selection of carols ranging from the traditional to the modern, from the familiar to the new.

Sir David Willcocks, whose compositions and arrangements have been the cornerstone of many Christmas services and carol concerts over the last four decades, sadly died in September and our concert will celebrate his unique contribution to the music of Christmas. Several Willcocks carols will feature in our programme, along with well-known carols for the audience and contemporary carol arrangements from Northern European composers.

Saturday 19 December at 7:30 in St Cross Church, Winchester
Music will include:
  • A selection of carols by Sir David Willcocks
  • Edvard Grieg: Ave Maris Stella
  • Trond Kverno: Corpus Christi Carol
  • Otto Olsson (arr): God’s Son is born
  • Jan Węcowski: Ave Maria, Mater mea
  • Carols for choir and audience
Director – Katherine Dienes-Williams
Organ – Paul Provost

Each year we use this concert to raise money for deserving charities and this year the retiring collection will be in aid of TASC Madagascar. This registered charity helps some of the most disadvantaged people in the Vohipeno area of South East Madagascar, supporting individuals, families and communities, focussing on sustainable projects in education, health and the environment. TASC provides significant aid to the inspirational Children’s Home at Tanjomoha which cares for orphaned, malnourished, sick and disabled children. http://www.tascmadagascar.org

Tickets £16 (concessions £14; children 17 and under £5) are available online and from:

Winchester Cathedral Box Office, The Visitors’ Centre, The Close, Winchester, SO23 9LS (tel: 01962 857275).

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Reflections – Southern Voices’ November concert

Southern Voices’ upcoming concert on Friday 6 November is called ‘Reflections’ noting the time of year and the choice of music. The programme consists of Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem and Frank Martin’s Mass for unaccompanied double choir.

Duruflé’s Requiem was published in 1947 by the French music publisher Durand. Commissioned in 1941 by the collaborationist Vichy regime, Duruflé was still working on the piece at the time of the regime’s collapse in 1944, and completed it in 1947, dedicating it to the memory of his father.

Frank Martin was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands. Of the mass it has been said *, “It was written back in 1922, well before Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms made it fashionable for French‐speaking composers to strike a monkish pose. It sounds like a Renaissance mass lost in time, aware nonetheless of long centuries passing and new horrors unfolding.” (Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise)

For the concert (this time on a Friday evening at 8.00pm) Southern Voices will be joined by Alexandra Stevenson (Mezzo-soprano) and Timothy Parsons (Organ). The concert will take place in Winchester Cathedral Quire. Tickets will be available from 28 September, online and from the Cathedral Box Office (01962 857275) priced £16 (concessions £14; children 17 and under £5). You can also contact me for tickets.

* It has also been said on this blog back in 2010, “Frank Martin completed his a cappella mass for double choir in 1926 yet the work did not receive its world premiere until the 1960s. A rich, exciting composition well suited to the acoustic of Winchester Cathedral Quire…

Poster - Nov 2015 v2

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Spem in Alium, Winchester style

Huge shout out to James and Elizabeth Montgomery for their very generous invitation to sing Spem in Alium to celebrate James’s 70th birthday. Taking much of Saturday 12 September to put together, most of that time seemed to be spent drinking, eating and socialising. There were separate choir practices in the morning before coming together for a final full rehearsal in the Cathedral Quire just prior to a performance in front of invited guests.

This time I sang tenor in choir 4, slowly working my way down the choir having sung tenor in choirs 1 and 2 previously. I think it fair to say that the final performance held together very well under the expert direction of Tom Seligman.

A very self-indulgent way to spend a Saturday (for me and my 70 fellows singers!).

Full copies for every singer

Full copies for every singer

Gathering in the Paul Woodhouse Suite first thing

Gathering in the Paul Woodhouse Suite first thing

Lunch!

Lunch!

Getting the 8 choirs into a horse shoe

Getting the 8 choirs into a horseshoe

Addressing invited guests

Addressing invited guests

Would you believe James thanked us for attending!

Would you believe James thanked us for attending!

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Memories of choir visit to Braunschweig

I was fortunate enough to join a visit to the German city of Braunschweig with Southern Voices for an extended weekend of singing and making merry – and merry it was indeed.

The primary reason for the trip was to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war in Europe by performing a specially commissioned piece by German composer Jochen Moduβ, ‘Pro Pace’ (Mache mich zum Werkzeug deines Friedens – Make me an instrument of thy peace). Written for orchestra and separate choirs from Germany (main and children’s), Latvia, Poland and England, the whole weekend was extremely moving, with an emphasis very much on peace rather than victory. [It was notable that our hosts were not afraid of tackling historic issues head on – Bishop Christop Meyn spoke on Sunday and said, amongst other things – “Looking back, it is shocking to see how easily people lose their humanity in war, the speedy brutalisation by the war commanders leading to the war of annihilation against Russia and genocide of European Jews”.]

Each of the visiting choirs got to perform individually in the first half of the concert before getting together in the second half for the main event. Southern Voices performed an all English programme (from Byrd to Parry), chosen particularly to mark the occasion. The Cathedral choir from Posener, Poland, consisting of many robed choristers sang a variety of Polish music and the Latvian choir (in light brown and not-too-flattering robes) sang more contemporary Latvian music. We all came back together for a commemoration service on the Sunday, where we performed a Mendelssohn cantata (see the clip from YouTube).

Deep friendships were made and we look forward to a return visit from our German hosts. Although we have been abroad as a choir, this trip reminded me of a similar weekend in France whilst at University, with the University choir then singing with a French and Italian choir – amazing how music can bring people together than otherwise would simply not interact (or understand each other!).

To extend the weekend music-making some more, we visited the picturesque town of Goslar to perform an extended programme at one of the local churches, enhanced by some brilliant organ playing by our MD Katherine. In addition to the music, it was a great opportunity to see some of the local sights and sample some local fare, as well as reminding oneself what a great bunch of people sings in Southern Voices.

First rehearsal St Katharinen church

First rehearsal St Katharinen church

The children's choir

The children’s choir

The end of the main concert

The end of the main concert

Getting to know the other choirs

Getting to know the other choirs

Venue for the Goslar concert

Venue for the Goslar concert

Final rehearsal Goslar

Final rehearsal Goslar

Let's not forget the cake...

Let’s not forget the cake…

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Sancta Maria – Southern Voices March concert

The next Southern Voices concert will cover five centuries of choral music celebrating the Virgin Mary. It will take place on Saturday 14 March at 7.30 in St Cross Church in Winchester.

The programme includes the usual Southern Voices fare with some fantastic early music from Tallis, Byrd and Palestrina through to more modern pieces from Einojuhani Rautavaara, Richard Allain and Jan Sandström. The pieces sound amazing in rehearsal!

Musical director Katherine Dienes-Williams outlines the programme

Mary, Mother of Jesus. Throughout the ages, choral works have been written concerning aspects of Mary’s life and her role as mother of Jesus Christ. Through music and reflection, our concert will explore seven different aspects of this: The Nativity of Mary, The Annunciation, the Nativity of Jesus, Mary’s role in Jesus’ ministry, Mary at the Cross, the Assumption and the adoration of Mary. Canon Dr. Andrew Bishop, Chaplain to the University of Surrey, will lead reflections interspersed with choral items from Thomas Tallis’ florid setting of ‘Salve intemerata’ to Giovanni di Palestrina’s ‘Stabat Mater’, from James Macmillan’s ‘Seinte Mari, moder milde’, to Einojuhani Rautavaara’s ‘Canticum Mariae virginis’. This will be a heady mix of music from the Renaissance to the present day, and will show something of the veneration accorded to the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the ages.

The programme will include:

Tallis – Salve intermerata
Victoria – Ne timeas Maria
Byrd – Ecce Virgo concipiet
Morales – Ecce Virgo concipiet
Sandstrom – Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
MacMillan – Seinte Maria moder milde
Richard Allain – Cana’s Guest
Palestrina – Stabat mater
Palestrina – Assumpta es Maria
Morales – Exsaltata est sancta
Rautavaara – Canticum Marie Virginis

Tickets prices

Full price £16 (concessions £14; children 17 and under £5)
Available from the Cathedral Box Office or from me.

Sancta Maria Poster_mar2015-final

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Advent concert with the St Oswald Singers

The Ozzies got together once again to sing a concert of varying musical styles at Compton Greenfield. Getting together occasionally, combined with our fourth visit to Compton Greenfield, means that music cannot be recycled that easily and the old repertoire has to be considered to see what we can get away with… Tertius Noble never sounded so fresh, and due to forgetting the copies we were forced to sing ‘I’m Sitting’ without copies. Of course we had to sing My Evaline – again!

Next year will be the 30th year since our founding back in 1985 and it is always excellent to meet up again, reminisce and check each other’s eyesights – all getting progressively worse. Larger copies next year for sure!

The seasonal hue in the last photo is due to the rather elderly heaters with electric bars that adorn the high walls of the church!

The evergreen Compton Greenfield

The evergreen Compton Greenfield

'Never knowingly over-rehearsed' applies...

‘Never knowingly over-rehearsed’ applies…

Just quorate - as ever

Just quorate – as ever

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