Donning our fund-raising dancing shoes

Ae ye dancin’? We’re is swapping singing for Stripping the Willow – and want you to join us.

We’re putting on our dancing shoes for a fund-raising ceilidh this Saturday, February 9, and, with a bow to the recent Burns Night celebrations, are including a haggis supper in the ticket price.

Featuring Midlands barn dance band The Cat’s Whiskers the 7.30pm evening (to which you’ll need to bring your own bottle) is shaping up to be a note-worthy event.

Tickets cost £15 and are available from Jenny Smith on 0788 2417858. For further information visit the choir’s Facebook page or go to www.worcestercathedralchamberchoir.co.uk

Partying on at Evensong

Our Evensong this weekend will be a bit of a birthday party – with civic dignitaries and leading county arts and religious figures on our guest list. 
We’ve invited friends, sponsors, supporters past and present to join us and the congregation for the service which is our 20th Anniversary Evensong and is followed by a celebration reception in the Chapter House.
Saturday’s occasion is our first big event in this special years which also includes a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem in April and a summer gala dinner, not to mention our fund-raising ceilidh on February 9 in Peopleton Village Hall (more anon).
Reception attendees will be able to enjoy a bit of celebration birthday cake and the opportunity to find out more about our plans for the future.
“We’re a high quality and innovative group which alongside our regular cathedral service and concert programme commitments, is looking to work in partnership with local organisations for mutual benefit,” says our MD Stephen. “We are also committed to bringing further ambitious and innovative programmes to the city that will not only add to its cultural life but reinforce Worcester’s reputation as a great place in which to live, work and visit.”

Saturday’s anthem is Parry’s Hear My Words, Ye People. Listen to us sing it here on our CD Rise Heart.

Sing as we go into 2019

Forgive us for singing our own praises but what a surprise festive gift it was to find ourselves broadcast to the world on Christmas Day!

It came courtesy of our friends at Classic FM who featured our recording of O Little Town of Bethlehem, from our Sing Choirs of Angels CD, in its Nation’s Favourite Carol countdown.

Coming swiftly after our appearance on local BBC Hereford and Worcester featuring a clip from our new carol The Infant King, which was commissioned from Worcester composer Ian King, the brace of broadcasts helped us to sing out 2018 on a high.

But we’re now really getting into the swing of our 20th anniversary year and, following only a brief festive pause, we’re back to full rehearsal mode this week to continue our preparations for our Anniversary Reception and Evensong on January 26 (in Worcester Cathedral) and our grand gala concert – Brahms’ Requiem on April 6, in St Martin’s Church, London Road, Worcester.

However, those early rehearsals will also see us working on what will be a poignant start to 2019 – our participation in a special service of thanksgiving for former organist and master of the choristers at Worcester Cathedral, Dr Donald Hunt, who sadly passed away last August. His drive, talent and inspiration were hugely influential in Worcester and way beyond and we are honoured and delighted to be part of this forthcoming occasion.

Away from the concert platform we’re getting ready to put down our folders and put on our dancing shoes for a fabulous fund-raising ceilidh. Featuring a live band and taking place at Peopleton Village Hall on February 9, this toe-twinkling evening is destined to bring in a few notes of the sterling variety to help swell our own coffers. A buffet supper is included in the £15 ticket price so come and help us dance the night away! Please bring your own drinks – you’ll need to slake that massive dance-induced thirst! Contact Jenny Smith (jenny.jumble86@gmail.com) for tickets and details of payment methods.

So, are you dancing? Are you singing? Are you listening? 2019 is shaping up to be a busy, fun and hugely musical celebratory year. Come and be part of it with us!

We remember them 100 years after 1918 Armistice

Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir

Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir

 

 

 

 

 

Our Remembrance concert is being hosted in Worcester, almost exactly 100 years to the day of the 1918 Armistice.

Gabriel Fauré

Gabriel Fauré

The central part of the evening of words and music, in St Martin’s Church, London Road, will be a performance of a new chamber ensemble arrangement of Fauré’s Requiem, featuring violin, cello, harp and organ.

The readings will be given by Gabrielle Bullock and Stephen will conduct us in the first concert of our musical milestone year.

Taking place on November 10 at 7.30pm, the evening heralds our 20th anniversary season, a year in which a gala dinner, a performance of Brahms German Requiem, featuring the composer’s arrangement for two piano accompaniment, and an anniversary cathedral Evensong and reception are planned.

Celebrations for this special year have been in the pipeline for some time but were originally completely unforeseen when, in 1998, then lay clerk Stephen Shellard outlined his dream to lead and conduct his own choir to Worcester Cathedral’s Chapter.

“I wanted to gather together the best amateur singers from across the Worcestershire diocese and beyond to form the first male and female choir to sing in the cathedral in its 900-plus years, but I never envisioned that it would be here 20 years later and such a successful and established part of the Cathedral and Worcester’s musical life,” reflects Stephen, now Senior Lay Clerk.

“Now the first concert of our anniversary season is coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Armistice and will feature moving words and music in tribute to all those who have fought and died in the line of duty since the First World War.” 

Tickets for the Remembrance concert ( £12, under 16s half price), are available on 01386 860389 and at the door. For more information, go to www.worcestercathedralchamberchoir.co.uk. You can also find the choir on Facebook, Google + Instagram and Twitter (@WCCC2).

 

Poster

Singing the praises of our 20th anniversary

We are so excited as we launch our new season of concerts and events – this is the start of a year-long celebration of 20 years of music making!

A gala dinner, a performance of the Brahms Requiem, featuring the composer’s arrangement for two piano accompaniment, an anniversary Evensong and reception are the highlights of our forthcoming celebratory season, which formally begins with the County Harvest Service in the cathedral next month.

Celebrations for this special year have been in the pipeline for some time but were originally completely unforeseen when, in 1998, then lay clerk Stephen Shellard outlined his dream to lead and conduct his own choir to Worcester Cathedral’s Chapter.

“I wanted to gather together the best amateur singers from across the Worcestershire diocese and beyond to form the first male and female choir to sing in the cathedral in its 900-plus years, but I never envisioned that it would be here 20 years later and such a successful and established part of the Cathedral and Worcester’s musical life,” reflects Stephen, who, now Senior Lay Clerk, took up his post as a member of the Cathedral Choir upon arrival from his native Dublin in 1990.

He was given the go-ahead and not only is the rest history, he made history by including women’s voices in the cathedral’s musical life.

The ensuing years have seen us expand from singing at traditional services to successful concert performances, acclaimed CD recordings, touring ventures and even backing Brit Award-winning trio Blake and accompanying rock legend and ‘Grumpy Old Man’ Rick Wakeman.

Much of our repertoire draws on its Anglican church music heritage and includes Bach’s St John Passion, Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Gloria while its recording career has produced several successful albums. The latest, Royal Worcester – Music for Royal Occasions features music from 500 years of royal ceremonies and was released in 2017 under our own Pink Giraffe label.

There have been visits to Dublin and a key musical role in 2013’s Christmas and Easter’s Gloucester and Worcester Cathedrals’ Mystery Plays while in 2007 we sang in the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass that was broadcast live from the cathedral on BBC1. Our performance of two carols from that evening have, to date, notched up more than 67,000 views on YouTube.

This year we were specially invited to sing the Hallelujah Chorus at the opening ceremony of the prestigious RHS Malvern Spring Show.

“It’s been an amazing 20 years,” says our current Chairman who was there for our very first season, Phil Crowther. “Singing bass with all these talented people, learning new music, performing in the Cathedral and around the country. The choir has become an important part of my life.”

While our big anniversary concert (keep up to date on details by coming back here or follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) is not until next April there’s still plenty of rehearsing ahead. The harvest service is followed by a concert of Remembrance readings and music, including a special arrangement of Fauré’s Requiem, on November 10 in Worcester and there are plans to perform a choral version of Elgar’s Sea Pictures with the English Symphony Orchestra as part of next year’s Elgar Festival.

Stephen is also working with some local composers on some new commissions for the choir and has some other ideas up his conducting arm’s sleeve.

“Watch this space,” he grins. 

Seeking tenors and basses ….

Rick Wakeman wanted to perform with the county’s leading chamber choir, so did hit harmony group Blake – do you?

Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir has vacancies for tenors and basses so please get in touch if you would like to join us.

Auditions are required but – there’s no Simon Cowells here – we’re a very friendly bunch!

We’re a choir of about 30 singers, all working to a high standard of musical excellence and, under our founder and musical director Stephen Shellard, have gained a reputation for musical sensitivity and ground-breaking performance.

Much of its repertoire is drawn from the traditional Anglican Church Music heritage and while recording catalogue includes music by Elgar, Parry, Vaughan Williams and contemporary Australian composer Paul Paviour.

Its latest CD, Royal Worcester, features music for royal occasions.

Apart from regular concerts, as member you will be expected to sing at Cathedral Eucharist and Evensong services several times a year, sometimes two or three times over one weekend, plus some other services.

We rehearse on Thursday evenings during term times and require an attendance level of at least 70% for any one project.

Any interested tenors or basses wishing to join us, please go to the contact section of our website www.worcestercathedralchamberchoir.co.uk, from where you can email our membership secretary. Or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Didn’t we have a lovely Lichfield time …

Weeks in the planning (you could even argue years since it was three years since they came to us), our ‘away day’ to sing with our Lichfield Chamber Choir colleagues on their home turf was worth all the work.  With our hosts sounding sublime in the first half’s Gerald Finzi’s Requiem da Camera, a setting of First World War poems it was a pleasure to join them in the second for Haydn’s Missa in Tempore Belli.Thee was also a grand opportunity between rehearsal and concert to check out Lichfield itself, especially for those on a first time visit.All in all, a grand day out and we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the occasion.  Lichfield’s conductor Martyn Rawles had some very nice things to say afterwards in thanking our MD Stephen and his ‘wonderful choir’.We’re delighted that he found us, he said, such a responsive group and that it was ‘quite something how we and Lichfield all came together in such a short space of time.Apparently, an orchestra member told him she could not remember the last time she had played for such a good choir!We’re all now looking forward to our next joint gig!

 

First World War commemoration has double the power thanks to combined forces

We’re travelling to Lichfield Cathedral this month to revisit old friends and perform an evocative musical commemoration of the centenary since the end of the First World War.

It’s going to be doubly powerful when we combine our voices with Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir for a performance of Haydn’s Missa in Tempore Belli.

This is the second time we have sung together.  Three years ago, Lichfield joined us on our cathedral concert platform to sing Handel’s oratorio, Israel in Egypt; an evening that was met with great acclaim and which proved an experience our Musical Directors have been eager to repeat ever since.

Martyn Rawles, Lichfield’s Musical Director who will be conducting the June 23 performance, says:  “We are hugely looking forward to welcoming Worcester’s wonderful Cathedral Chamber Choir to Lichfield in what promises to be a very moving evening’s music-making as part of Lichfield Cathedral’s programme of events to mark the centenary of the Armistice. Singing with our colleagues in Worcester three years ago was a very exciting occasion, and I know that combining the choirs again for one of Haydn’s final masterpieces will be a thrilling experience for performers and audience alike.”

Our founder and Musical Director Stephen Shellard agrees, adding: “We really enjoyed welcoming Martyn and his choir to our cathedral, and the memory of conducting our massed forces, and the success of that night is still vivid for me.  

We always said we would make the return trip to Lichfield and it’s just a shame that it’s taken us three years to organise it!”

Haydn’s piece, written soon after the French Revolution at a time when his native Austria was threatened with invasion, will take up the second half of the concert.

The first half, due to begin at 7.30pm, will see Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir, accompanied by the Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra, perform Gerald Finzi’s Requiem da Camera, a setting of First World War poems reflecting on the inevitable changes to English home life brought about by war.  

The soloists are Penelope Appleyard, Kate Symonds-Joy, Hugo Hymas and Andrew Randall.  

Tickets cost £15 (front of nave) and £13 (rear and side aisles) and are available from the Cathedral Bookshop, telephone 01543 306150 or via tickets@lichfieldcathedralchamberchoir.org.

Israel in Egypt concert

Worcester and Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choirs in concert

Come on Eileen!

One of our sopranos is stepping out to really go for the high notes – of the sterling variety.

Intrepid Eileen Roberts is undertaking the 35-mile Llangollen Round Challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

She is due to join hundreds of other walkers putting their best feet forward on the weekend of June 2 and 3 on the popular circular route, which visits every summit around the Vale of Llangollen in north east Wales.

Its total ascent is around 2,000 the equivalent, say the organisers, of going up Snowdon twice over.

Eileen who is aiming to raise £1,000, has set up a JustGiving page and is urging people to contribute to the cause.

“Like many people, cancer has affected many of my close friends and relatives,” she says. “This is a chance for me to support an excellent cause by walking in the beautiful valley where I grew up. Let’s hope for good weather!”

You can contribute by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/eileen-roberts1

Come on Eileen!

Making a Great Exhibition of ourselves at RHS Malvern Spring Festival

We’re delighted to be making a great exhibition of ourselves at this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

The prestigious event, which attracts green-fingered enthusiasts and world-leading professionals from across the country and beyond, is celebrating the Great Exhibition of 1851 and we have been invited to recreate a key moment from its grand opening ceremony.

Organised by Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, the Exhibition was held in the the Crystal Palace, a magnificent glass structure especially built in Hyde Park, and was the first in a series of World Fairs recognising cultural and industrial achievement.

The elaborate opening ceremony, whose centrepiece featured a crystal fountain flowing with Malvern water, was attended by the celebrities of the day, including Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, and featured state processions and grand music.

The latter featured a magnificent 600-voice rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, and it is that moment we will be reproducing – albeit on a smaller scale – to herald the opening of this year’s spring show.

“We are delighted to have been asked to lend our voices to this wonderful annual event, a highlight of any gardening calendar,” says our musical director Stephen Shellard, who will be conducting the singers at the ceremony on Thursday, May 10.

“We won’t be delivering quite the same level of sound as those original 600 voices did but we can guarantee this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival will begin on a realy high note!”

For more information about the festival, visit https://www.rhsmalvern.co.uk

Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir in Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir

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