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Singing Out

Issue: Dec '12 TW Mag

My earliest memory of choral music is listening to Carols from King’s each Christmas Eve as a child. That spine-tingling moment when the solo treble steps forwards for the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City. Then the warmth of the harmony as the rest of the choir joins in for the second verse, and the power of the sound when the congregation eventually joins in.

Ever since, choral singing has been a very important part of my life, from singing as a treble in my local church choir, through school and youth choirs, to a variety of chamber choirs and choral societies. Throughout, singing in a choir has been a tremendous release from the stresses and strains of daily life; a way of unwinding and relaxing after a difficult day at work.

I now sing with Twickenham Choral Society, a choir of over 100 – a mixed bunch of people, of a wide range of ages, professions and experience, from those of us who have been singing our whole lives, to those who have discovered the joys of choral singing more recently. More importantly, it is a group where many friendships – and even marriages! – have been formed, by the coming together of people with the common purpose of making beautiful music.

I enjoy the wide range of classical styles which we encompass (this year’s programme covers over 400 years from Tallis’ monumental motet Spem in Alium to a new work commissioned especially for us) and the different musical challenges which that brings. We’re rehearsing Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the moment for our concert in December, a favourite of many members of the choir, which brings its own set of challenges – the work was originally conceived for a handful voices rather than a choir of 100. Everyone in the choir has a part to play, from our conductor Christopher Herrick and accompanist Jonny Beatty, to each individual singer – the coming together of all the different elements creates a magical whole, so much greater than the sum of its parts.
Next term, we turn our attention to a number of English works, including Parry’s I Was Glad to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, for a concert in St Mary’s Church Twickenham, before taking the programme on a tour of Belgium in April. It’s a very different style to the Monteverdi – variety is the spice of
choral life!

Recently I’ve been enjoying watching Gareth Malone and his various choirs on TV, particularly the reactions of his choir members who had never sung before. It moved me to see the way that they embraced the music, and in the process discovered the uplifting and life-enhancing experience of singing together – a feeling which I’m sure I share with my colleagues in TCS.

If this has whetted your appetite, TCS will perform Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 on Saturday 8th December at the Landmark Arts Centre, see page 12 for further details. Future concerts include a programme of English music at St Mary’s Church Twickenham in March and Tallis’ Spem in Alium at the Landmark in June next year.