Latest Event Updates
Dear Choir Members and supporters
I hope you have enjoyed a lovely Summer. I’m writing to give you some important dates for your diary about rehearsals and concerts coming up this season as well as information about some of the social and fund-raising events your committee are planning for 2015/2016.
We start rehearsing again in St Paul’s Church Hall, Preston, on Thursday September 3rd at 7.30 as usual. This term we are singing Bach’s Magnificat in D, Vivaldi’s Gloria and also his Magnificat. The concert will be on Saturday November 28th in the church of St Mary the Virgin, St Marychurch, Torquay, and will be accompanied by Chris Sears on the organ. This concert is being funded by a substantial bequest from our choir member, bass Brian Armstrong who sadly died in February; we will be commemorating him and his deep love of choral music by singing at his request the Gloria by Vivaldi, one of his favourite pieces of music.
Following the success of our Carol Concert last year, we are hoping to hold another one in December this year. We are waiting to finalise details with one of the Rotary clubs of Torquay who are keen to work with us.
Our Spring/Easter concert will be on Saturday March 12th, in Central Church, Torquay. We will be singing Schubert’s mass in G and a selection of favourite Choral Classics from copies bought by the Choir. Some of these will be dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II since she will be celebrating her 90th birthday very soon after that date. We are hoping the soloists in this concert will be members of the choir.
Already in your diaries, I hope, is The Big One! – On Saturday July 2nd and Sunday July 3rd we will be singing Verdi’s glorious Requiem. This will be a joint venture with the North Devon Choral Society, and we will be giving the opportunity to members of other local choral societies to join us.
On Saturday July 2nd at 7.30 we will be singing in the Assembly Rooms, Torquay Town Hall; and on Sunday July 3rd we will travel up to Barnstaple to sing in the specially prepared Pannier Market – quite an experience if you haven’t taken part in a joint concert before! This concert will be at 3.00pm.
We will be accompanied at both concerts by our professional Festival Orchestra and have already booked some wonderful soloists. Joint discussions on organisation are already well under way and we’re sure both choirs are really looking forward to this event!
Since these concerts will incur quite high costs to put on we are looking for local funding and also planning a series of fund-raising events which include so far: a table-top sale on Saturday November 14th in St Paul’s Church Hall from 9.00 till 1.00, and a cream tea and quiz, details to be confirmed; there are other ideas in the pipeline. We are also hoping to organise a day’s choral workshop for the Requiem. All ideas for fund-raising would be welcomed as well as offers of help from volunteers when the occasions arise.
Finally, having said a fond farewell to our talented accompanist Trevor Bray at our Gershwin concert in July, this season we are looking forward to welcoming our new accompanist Tim Matthews. Tim was trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Lancaster University; he further studied piano and organ and has been involved in churches and church music from the time he was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. He lives in Crediton where he teaches piano, voice and music theory. He has recently founded the Crediton Singers, directs the Alvington Singers and is Musical Director of the Lympstone Military Wives’ Choir.
I look forward to seeing you all on September 3rd.
Best wishes – Sally Laird – Chairperson
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“I have to say a huge well done to everybody in the Choir who was there to enjoy our wonderful concert last night. We sang our hearts out – and I think our audience really enjoyed themselves! And as for Trevor – we will certainly miss his twinkling fingers – he was the star last night.
A big thank you to John Hobbs too – he looked so happy – definitely pleased with us and thank you to Margaret Hobbs too – her commentary was excellent.”
Wishing you all have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing all choir members, both old and new, on September 3rd for the start of another term of glorious harmony together.
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When George Gershwin wrote ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ he was describing what we all can identify with – when one of those tunes gets stuck in your head and you just can’t stop it – “Got a little rhythm, a rhythm, a rhythm, that pit-a-pats through my brain”. In fact, it’s “So darn persistent, The day isn’t distant, When it’ll drive me insane.”
Of course the Choir’s intention on Saturday 11th July is not to drive you insane but to entertain you with our concert of Gershwin music – Fascinating Rhythm. Tickets are available online and on the door. The performance starts at 7.30pm at Central Church, Tor Hill Road, Torquay.
And if you’ve wondered about this strange mind phenomenon, known as an ‘earworm’, perhaps this little video from TedEd will illuminate what might be happening.
Has Chorally Confused got the mid-term Gershwin singing blues? Learning songs for our next concert, Fascinating Rhythm, has been a challenging and steep learning curve. The harmonies are complex and very different from the classical pieces of choral music the Choir has learned recently and the rhythms are well, fascinating.
The score for this concert has been hand written in places and this makes for an appreciation of what singers might have experienced before the advent of printed music. Think Handel with a goose feather quill and octopus ink, a shaky hand after a pint or two of good German lager and you begin to get the drift.
Chorally Confused, who has never learned to read music but can now follow it (as she thought) pretty successfully, is suffering from repeatitis. For those of you who spend time with your head in a stave this might be just run of the mill but for those of us with a big red L-plate on our back in the musical reading department repeated repeats can become confusing and the score for this concert is full of repeats: repeat: full of repeats!
Not only are there simple repeats, sing through to the repeat mark(:) turn back and sing it again, but there are repeats inside the repeats. Sing to the repeat mark, turn back and sing it again, carry on after the second time to the repeat marks, and go back – Where!?
The most useful musical term learned so far is “Thumb”, written at the point where Chorally Confused must insert her thumb in order to go back to the first repeat. It may not be the correct classical music notation but its the easiest way to navigate successfully. One wiser and more experienced member of the Choir said use a paperclip, which is a good idea, and anyhow Chorally Confused would need to have a thumb in the score to find the paperclip.
Chorally Confused sings soprano, the top line – the previous user of the score, who sang alto on the next line down, wrote some instructions too, although not quite sure what auburn refers to…. faster is perfectly clear.
Come what may the Choir is very grateful to the North Devon Choral Society for the loan of the scores and to Robin Page, who painstakingly and beautifully arranged the music in SATB parts for Choirs like us to sing.
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First performed in Boston in 1935 the opera Porgy & Bess has been performed many times over the intervening years. Here are Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald bringing soul to the American Repertory Theatre’s production of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in 2011.
The story of the writing of the opera runs thus. At some date in the 1920s a black American named Goatcart Sammy murdered a woman and was pursued by the police who, being provided with Cadillacs, not surprisingly overtook the goat-cart and put Sammy in gaol. This story caught the fancy of one DuBose Heyward who put it into a novel called Porgy. This caught the fancy of George Gershwin when he was touring in 1926 with one of his earliest and best musicals, Oh, Kay! He wrote to Heyward suggesting an opera. Heyward put him off because he was dramatizing the book for Broadway. The play was a hit and in 1932 Gershwin propositioned Heyward again. He saw in Porgy a chance to write and opera where he could find the middle ground between classical music and American jazz, one of his lifelong desires and by now a fixation. The deal was done; Heyward was to do the libretto working along with George’s brother Ira, widely know as a top class lyricist.
George put in a lot of homework living on an island off Charleston, South Carolina, studying a community whose music was thought to be the nearest thing to the real ‘McCoy’ in the matter of spirituals. He wrote the opera in 20 months. The piano score was entirely his own work but how much of the orchestration he did himself has always been a bit of mystery.
The Gershwin brothers were the impresarios as well as the creators of Porgy and they took great pains to audition and selected their all-coloured cast. Todd Duncan got the role of Porgy and was to sing the hit numbers all over the world for the next 40 years. After the out-of-town run the show had its real first night in the Alvin Theatre, New York on 10 October 1935. It ran for 124 performances – not enough to recoup the investment on a Broadway musical but surely a candidate for the Guinness Book of Records as an opening run of consecutive performances of a new opera.
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George Gershwin, the son of Russian immigrants who settled in New York, joined the popular music business in his mid-teens, composing his first song in 1916. Other songs were written for inclusion in Broadway shows leading to La La Lucille! (1919), a complete Broadway score, the first of a series of stage works that placed Gershwin at the centre of New York theatrical life for 15 years, and which formed the platform for his prodigious melodic talent.
In 1919 he also composed his first big ‘hit’, Swanee, recorded the following year by Al Jolson and earning Gershwin $10,000 alone in that year.
Gershwin did not consider classical and popular music as discrete genres, and in Rhapsody in Blue (1924) for piano and orchestra combined elements from each genre with success, as well as in such large scale works as the Piano Concerto (1925) and the opera, Porgy & Bess (1935).
In a significant number of works he was also not afraid to introduce some of the compositional techniques associated with the latest classical music to convincing effect.
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This term we are learning ‘The Creation’ by Joseph Ha… and that was where the problem started. The correct spelling and the pronunciation are not quite the same. Just three letters of the alphabet and as Eric Morcombe once famously said “…. not necessarily in the right order!”
The posters were drafted and distributed to the Committee for feedback and back came the reply – “You’ve spelt Haydn wrong”. Well its a tricky and unfamiliar name, not like Smith or Mitchell and the speller didn’t know how to spell it either.
How many variations on a theme can there be? Hadyn, Hydan, Hyden, Haydn. The trouble is once a word is spelled wrong it then sits quietly in the brain waiting to jump out at every opportunity. Every time it goes into the public domain, like on our Facebook page, yours truly gets a bit of a twitch and has to go and check it out just to make sure its right.
Anyway, I hope it is now correct as the posters are in print – otherwise I’m really on a Haydn to nothing.