Playing a key role

Brahms’ German Requiem is a repertoire staple of choirs around the world but usually with an accompanying orchestra. It is not often performed with a two-piano accompaniment.

For our 20th anniversary concert, Robin Walker steps out from his regular weekly rehearsal accompanist role to join King’s School Assistant Director of Music and Worcester Festival Choral Society’s conductor Christopher Allsop at the keyboard.

The fact that experienced organist, pianist, choirmaster and teacher Robin also works at King’s School has proved a bonus.

“Working under the same roof has been particularly useful for rehearsals,” he says. “Christopher and I have not played together before and it has been an enjoyable and very useful experience. Using two pianos throws us a few more challenges, such as keeping the big chords together of particular note!

“Just synchronising everything, particularly in the more energetic moments, takes some practice,” agrees Christopher.

“But it’s such a wonderful score that it’s a privilege to be able to play it on one’s own instrument.  Also, working with a pianist colleague like Robin is rewarding, both socially and musically.  Both of us working at King’s has certainly made scheduling rehearsals together easier!”

Practising has also required two pianos. “This arrangement uses all of both keyboards, so you would keep crashing into each other if there were two of us at just one piano.” explains Christopher. 

However, audiences need not think they’ll be hearing a ‘cut down’ version of the full orchestral score.

“While both of us get a good share of the orchestral writing, very often the independent piano parts are quite different, adding variety,” says Robin.

For our conductor Stephen, using the piano version neatly avoids the possibility of repeating the disaster of the work’s 1867 premiere.

“A timpanist wrongly read an instruction to play at full volume and proceeded to drown out part of the Third Movement,” he reveals.  “A contemporary critic wrote that the singers were intent on ‘shouting each other down wildly,’.  Maybe they were trying to drown out the percussive din.”

The concert takes place in St Martin’s Church, London Road, on Saturday, April 6, at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Eventbrite, from 01386 860389 or on the door.


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.

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!

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!