150 Years of singing in Torbay and South Devon

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Could this have been the formation of the Choir?

We are so excited to tell you all about our plans for the new season 2021–2022, in which we celebrate an impressive 150 years of our Choir singing in Torbay. In this we are sharing glory with the Royal Albert Hall, which is also celebrating the same wonderful milestone!

We begin the year rehearsing for our first concert, ‘Messiah’ by George Frederick Handel. This will be performed on Saturday December 11th in St Matthias’ Church, Torquay, which has recently undergone a remarkable internal transformation that has introduced excellently flexible new seating as well as underfloor heating. The Festival Orchestra will be accompanying us, and we have wonderful soloists including soprano Catherine Hamilton and our very own former conductor and glorious bass, John Hobbs.

Soprano Soloist - Catherine Hamilto

Catherine is also booked to come along to our rehearsal on Thursday October 14th to give us guidance on vocal technique – an event not to be missed!

We plan to bring our Choir to the attention of all singers in the bay through several come-and-sing workshops throughout our celebratory year. Our Director of Music, Simon Dunbavand, will lead the first, a birthday open-to-all sing-along of favourite choruses from ‘Messiah’ in St Matthias’ Church on Saturday November 6th, 1.30–5.30pm (with birthday cake!). More details will come nearer the time.

For our late spring concert, in St Matthias’ Church on Saturday May 21st, we move our focus to the 21st century, performing John Rutter’s powerful and exciting ‘Gloria’, as well as Paul Drayton’sA Ceremony of Psalms’. Apart from his role as composer, Paul’s career has included conducting St Austell Choral Society and 14 years as Music Director of Duchy Opera.


In addition, I’m delighted to announce that Simon Dunbavand is marking this special year by writing a work for our Choir, to be performed at this concert, called ‘Gitanjali’ – a work based on poems by the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was closely associated with Dartington Hall School. The concert will be accompanied by the prestigious brass ensemble Abbey Brass, who have made an excellent recording of the Rutter and Drayton works that Choir members will be able to acquire.

In preparation for this spring concert, the Committee has planned two workshops, both to be held at St Matthias’ Church, 10.30–4.30. Simon will lead a workshop on Rutter’s Gloria’ on Saturday February 12th, while composer Paul Drayton will head a workshop on his ‘Ceremony of Psalms’ on Saturday March 12th . I hope you are writing these dates in your diary right now! The workshops will be open to all singers and we hope to attract many new visitors to the Choir to enjoy working with us.

In the summer term, after the Rutter–Drayton–Dunbavand concert in May, you will have a chance to sing again some of the lovely choruses from our ‘Choral Classics’ book that we rehearsed last term online.

Our 150th Anniversary Season will finish with some Choir social activities, which we hope will include attending a concert in Exeter Cathedral, and a social outing together which we plan to conclude with a celebratory meal!

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