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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Royal Wedding revisited – musically!

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry couldn’t have timed their wedding better, says our musical director Stephen Shellard.

The day, when the world’s gaze will be trained upon Windsor Castle to see the sixth in line to the throne tie the knot, comes just one week before we perform highlights from our latest recording Royal Worcester – A Celebration of Music for Royal Occasions.

Our disc already includes music heard at William and Kate’s 2011 wedding and the concert, in Crowle’s St John the Baptist Church on May 26, will include pieces familiar from other magisterial events down the centuries, such as coronations and jubilee celebrations.

“We wish the royal couple all the best for the future – and thank them for choosing the date they did,” grins Stephen.  “Some of the most beautiful, uplifting and rousing music has been performed at royal weddings and if you like what you heard at Harry’s wedding, we can give you another ‘live’ taste a week after.”

The concert, whose title Royal Worcester also references the world-famous Worcester Porcelain factory, heralds the start of a busy year for us as we celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Our group was stablished by Stephen, Senior Lay Clerk at Worcester Cathedral, who wanted to create a group of high quality local singers with a prestigious concert repertoire and to further enrich the cathedral’s own choral tradition. 

We now sing regularly at services and also guest at other churches in the diocese. Our Nine Lessons and Carols services at Kempsey in recent years have proved particularly popular.

We are also proud of our established concert repertoire and have also been asked to perform with other artists, including rock legend Rick Wakeman. Our current CD, which is available from the Cathedral Shop and on Spotify, Amazon Music and iTunes, is the latest addition to a growing catalogue of recordings.

Future events lined up for our anniversary year include a a trip to Lichfield Cathedral for a joint performance with its own chamber choir of Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli a celebration weekend of singing Cathedral services and a gala dinner.

Our Crowle performance is due to start at 7.30pm and will include works such as Handel’s Zadok the Priest and I Was Glad, by Parry.  Tickets are available from the church, Crowle Post Office or on 01905 381820. 

Stephen Shellard

Harry and Meghan couldn’t have timed their wedding better, says our MD Stephen Shellard

May 26 concert poster

Royal Worcester CD

Our latest CD, Royal Worcester – Music for Royal Occasions

We’re looking for 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 currently 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 our repertoire is drawn from the traditional Anglican Church Music heritage while our recording catalogue includes music by Elgar, Parry, Vaughan Williams and contemporary Australian composer Paul Paviour.

Our latest CD, featuring music for royal occasions, is due to be released in August 2017.

Apart from regular concerts as a 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 this website where you can email our membership secretary.

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Royal Worcester – CD & concert dish up a majestic musical feast

Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir is to royally entertain the entire nation with the release of a majestic new CD.

Royal Worcester – A Celebration of Music for Royal Occasions, goes on UK release

after its official launch at a special concert in the city on Monday, July 24.

The regal occasion, in St Martin’s Church, London Road, will be a crowning moment of two appearances during Worcester’s Three Choirs week by the singers who come from across Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

The disc, recorded in Worcester Cathedral earlier this year, is the brainchild of the choir’s Musical Director Stephen Shellard who wanted highlight the building’s centuries of connection with Royalty.

“In the last year we have celebrated the life of King John, who was the catalyst for the celebrated Magna Carta and is buried at Worcester Cathedral, which is also the resting place of Prince Arthur whose death, at just 15, paved the way for his brother to inherit the throne as Henry VIII,” he explains.

“The CD’s title also reflects references the world-famous Worcester Porcelain factory which was granted the Royal Warrant in 1789 by George III.

“We are very grateful to the Portmeirion Group for allowing us to use Royal Worcester as  the disc’s title.”

The disc – and concert – features music spanning 500 years of royal ceremonies, ranging from the eternally popular Coronation favorites such as ‘Zadok the Priest’ by Handel  and ‘I Was Glad’ (Hubert Parry and Henry Purcell), to the lesser known but equally powerful ‘Behold O God Our Defender’ (Howells) and ‘O Hearken Thou’ (Elgar) as well as ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ (Parry), which was sung at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Royal Worcester also features organ solos from Worcester Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music Christopher Allsop and newly appointed Sub Assistant organist Richard Cook who joins the choir for the concert which is due to begin at 7.30pm.

It will be the second consecutive performance in two days for the Chamber Choir, which is also leading the Three Choirs Festival opening Evensong on Saturday, July 22nd at 5.30pm.

Concert tickets cost £10 (U16s half price) and are available from 01386 860389 and on the door.

Copies of the CD can be bought during the evening, from the Cathedral shop or ordered from the choir’s website. In the near future the CD will also will also be available for online streaming.

This is the first recording to be released under the Chamber Choir’s own Pink Giraffe label.  The name has been inspired by the pink giraffe depicted as being held by Adam in one of the medallions of the West Window which illustrates the Creation of Animal Life (see photo).

 

 

Stephen Shellard with the Royal Worcester CD

Stephen Shellard, Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir’s Musical Director next to King John’s tomb, with a copy of the new CD which is being launched in a concert in St Martin’s Church, Worcester, on June 24.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two special concert guests

Our music director Stephen Shellard was delighted to welcome the Mayor of Worcester Councillor Paul Denham and his wife Lynn as our special guests to our concert I Was Glad, in Worcester’s St Martin’s Church on Saturday, October 15. It was the first time we had invited the city’s mayor and mayoress to one of our performances and their attendance was much appreciated by all of us.

 

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Flyer-ing high!

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We’re very proud of these new publicity flyers which we’re hoping will send our profile soaring.

Along with the atmospheric photograph, taken during one of our many Worcester Cathedral services, the leaflet gives our potted history and outlines our future performance plans.

It also lists our most recent recordings (available to buy here and through major online stores) and shows where we can be found on social media.

Copies are already available in Worcester’s Tourist Information Centre but we’re working hard on distributing them round and about the county.

Definitely worth reading all about us!

 

Concert makes us doubly glad

We’re not only feeling glad about our forthcoming concert – we have two special reasons to feel very cheerful indeed.

The first is because the evening ‘I Was Glad: A Celebration of English Music’ represents the first live showcase of the music we are due to record for our latest CD.

The second is because the Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester will be attending their first Cathedral Chamber Choir concert as our specially invited guests.

“We are delighted that Councillor Paul and Mrs Lynn Denham have accepted our invitation and are looking forward to giving them and everyone else a musical taste of what’s to come next year,” says our Music Director Stephen Shellard.

The CD “Royal Worcester”, and the concert programme, will include classics such as Zadok the Priest, Howells’s Behold Oh God Our Defender and, of course, I Was Glad – both Parry’s much-loved familiar version and the lesser known Purcell arrangement – and is due to be released at next year’s Worcester Three Choirs Festival.

The concert itself, in St Martin’s Church, London Road, Worcester, on

October 15, will also take on a slightly nautical flavour when we are joined by baritone William Thomas for Charles V Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet.

Conducted by Stephen and with accompaniment from Richard Cook, the evening promises to be a right royal musical feast. Tickets (£10/£5) are available on 01386 860389 or www.worcestercathedralchamberchoir.co.uk

 

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