Latest Event Updates

Local talent

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When we see a professional singer on the stage, in their home environment, performing in front of a big audience we often forget that for every professional singer there are hundreds of amateurs and young professionals putting themselves out there for all to hear and judge.

Clare Lash Williams - Soprano
Clare Lash Williams – Soprano

At our concert on Saturday 12th March South Devon Choir was pleased to welcome a new young singer who performed the soprano part in Schubert’s Mass in G.

Clare Lash-Williams attended Sherborne School for Girls where she excelled in music. Fast becoming an in-demand Soprano soloist Claire has appeared as a singer on regional TV.

As member of the Collati Singers, Clare regularly sings for a range of choral events and has recently worked with the Alvington Singers, the Lympstone Military Wives and the Crediton Singers. She also sings for weddings and special events and is currently expanding her teaching practice.

Despite being afflicted with a cold and cough (which seems to be norm for this end of a long damp winter) Clare Lash Williams demonstrated that she has a lovely voice with pure top notes and gave a performance much enjoyed by the Choir and audience alike.  Our thanks go to her for travelling to be with us for a short but much appreciated participation in the concert; we hope that we will see and hear more of her in the future (and that her cold gets better very quickly).

John Christian - Tenor
John Christian – Tenor

Choir members usually stay bashfully in the body of the Choir but one of our tenors, John Christian, came out to perform a solo in the Schubert Mass.

John has been singing as a tenor with the South Devon Choir since 2002 during which time he has also been developing as a solo singer – he has sung for local choirs, including The Stanborough Chorus, singing the tenor solos in Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise and Elijah, Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast and making various guest appearances. He is also a soloist at St Paul’s, Preston, in their regular Easter gathering of singers for Stainer’s Crucifixion and Maunder’s Olivet to Calvary.

John studies locally with Veronica Layne and sings in S.W. England Festivals both in Torbay and Plymouth.

It is great to have such enthusiasm and talent within the Choir and John displays his artistic side both as a singer and a maritime artist.  In the past he has also been kind enough to donate pictures for Choir funding raising activities so one way and another the Choir has much to say thank you to him for.  (You can see his pictures on his website .)

 

 

 

A Happy Chairperson

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Sally Laird - Chairperson of South Devon Choir
Sally Laird – Chairperson

What a wonderfully enjoyable concert our South Devon Choir gave on Saturday in Central Church Torquay!

I’m so proud of the Choir – they worked very hard and made a wonderful sound!

And I’ve never seen the audience look so happy!

 

 

 

John Hobbs - Musical Director pictured at the concert The Creation March 2015
John Hobbs – Musical Director pictured at the concert The Creation March 2015

We sang a glorious mix of favourite choral classics and Schubert’s Mass in G – conducted by our lovely Musical Director, John Hobbs ,who also stepped cheerfully into the breach and sang the short bass solos gloriously as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Matthews
Tim Matthews

As for our new accompanist – Tim Matthews- he never stopped playing all night – and all day too if you count the rehearsal time he put in. Those organ solos – wow!  Nearly blew the roof off at times; and lovely to hear the beautiful Steinway played so well.

Onward and upwards everybody – Verdi Requiem next – can’t wait!

From your very delighted Chairperson!

I was glad

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Famous Choral Classic for a Royal Birthday Celebration

There are some pieces of music which are so familiar and well-loved and  I was glad by Sir Hubert Parry is surely one of them.

Sung at the entrance of the Monarch at the Coronation and at royal celebrations such as weddings, with the advent of widespread television, this anthem will be well-known to millions.  South Devon Choir will conclude its Choral Classics concert on 12 March 2016 with this lovely piece of music – as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she approaches the occasion of her 90th birthday.

For further details of this concert and to obtain tickets please click here.

Tickets are also available on the door – the concert starts at 7.30pm at Central Church, Torquay.

 

#queenelizabeth #royalbirthday #torquay #music #concert

 

 

 

Be an Early Bird

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Catch a Choral Workshop ticket

Early Bird
Early Bird

If you love singing, and especially with other people, South Devon Choir are holding a Choral Workshop on the amazingly dramatic and well known Verdi’s Requiem.

Discounted tickets will be available until 12th February, so being an Early Bird is advisable.

The all-day workshop has been arranged to assist members of the Choir as they prepare to perform the Requiem on 2nd July in Torquay and members of other choirs and the general public are also very welcome.

Tickets have been selling fast to beat the Early Bird expiry date of 12 February but there are  places still available and the Choir will run a waiting list if the Workshop is over-subscribed.  If you are interested in attending the Workshop more information is available here.

If you think you would like to join the Choir and sing the Requiem with us then details about joining are available here.

We promise – it will be an experience that you won’t forget.

On the Eve of Advent

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Do you need an antidote to Black Friday?  

After the frantic buying, the news reports, the arguments over televisions, and general retail frenzy of Black Friday do you feel edgy, worried about getting everything done for Christmas and rather disillusioned with the whole thing?  Before Advent has even dawned do you wonder why we end up with the Season of Goodwill being more like the Season of Retail Madness?

A Winter Night
A Winter Night

On the Eve of Advent Sunday venture out into the winter night.  Leave the twinkling and glitter of Strictly, the adverts for turkey, iPads and toys that will be broken by Boxing Day.  Brave the cold and the damp;  make your way to St Marychurch Parish Church in Torquay.

Listen to the beginning of the Christmas Story – Mary’s song of joy, wonder and thanks for the impending and miraculous birth of a child.  Whether you believe or not, music weaves a magic that calms and restores the spirit, and the experience of hearing it, living, rising and falling, reverberating through the great space of St Marychurch will be a calming antidote to all the hustle and bustle.

Bach and Vivaldi both celebrated Mary’s song of joy with their versions of the Magnificat and the South Devon Choir will sing both of them on Saturday 28th November, together with the uplifting and well-known Vivaldi Gloria.  The Choir will accompany soloists Melanie Hoadley, Rebecca Smith, Sarah Farleigh and Daniel Hoadley.  The Choir and soloists will be conducted by John Hobbs, who will also sing a solo part.  The organist is Christopher Sears, Head of Music at Torquay Boys Grammar School.

Tickets are will be available online until Friday and are also be available on the door on Saturday night – £12, under age 19 free.

To buy tickets online click here.  For further information click here

Picture credit

A Baroque Start to Christmas

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THERE is no doubt that we love tradition in Britain and one of the most satisfying traditions is to hear a choir singing and keeping alive the music of long ago; the tradition seems even stronger and more meaningful when the music is bound up with the history of the Church and the daily musical and choral life in our parishes and, particularly, our stunning cathedrals.

The Magnificat settings of Bach and Vivaldi have now been sung for almost 300 years since their first performances in the early 18th century and, of course, the story is much older than that. Go back another hundred years and we have the splendour of Tudor times and what has been termed a golden age in English music, when the Magnificat was being composed by the likes of Thomas Weelkes at Chichester Cathedral and Orlando Gibbons at Westminster Abbey; they died in 1623 and 1625 respectively. The traditional settings of Luther’s translation of the Magnificat can be traced back to variants of Gregorian chant and in Protestant music it is thought that no other Latin text was more often set to music.

Madonna of the Magnificat
Madonna of the Magnificat – Sandro Botticelli – Galleries of the Uffizi, Florence.

There was a great resurgence of interest in Bach’s music in Victorian times, which may have been triggered in 1829 by a then rare performance of the St Matthew Passion conducted by Mendelssohn. Our nation’s choral societies have always loved their Bach and the South Devon Choir is maintaining that tradition on 28th November at The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, St Marychurch, Torquay, though it is surprising to note from Malvern Cooke’s history of our choir that Bach’s Magnificat – reckoned to be one of his most significant and popular works – has been performed only once before, in 1986 at Central Church, Torquay.

The problem is that maintaining tradition takes money and an awful lot of effort. Concerts such as this do require a budget, a great deal of planning and roughly a three-month session of weekly rehearsals. Basically, our singers do it because they love the music and they want to maintain a tradition.

For us, the audience at this time of year, it becomes a wonderful Christmas gift.

If you would like to join us on Saturday buy your tickets online here

Image –  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_of_the_Magnificat

In celebration of the life of Brian Armstrong (1945-2015)

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Our next concert, Magnificat & Gloria, celebrates the life of one of our popular Choir members Ronald Brian Armstrong (usually known as Brian) who died recently.

Brian very kindly left a legacy to the Choir and his request was that we perform the Vivaldi ‘Gloria’, his favourite choral piece.  Such was his love of this music that, despite being very ill and wheelchair-bound, he was spotted at a local choral workshop and performance of the ‘Gloria’ simply to participate and enjoy the wonderful music.  We shall miss him greatly.  If you would like to join us in celebrating his life, tickets can be obtained here

 

Brian Armstrong
Brian Armstrong

His Life

Although Brian only lived in Scotland until he was 18, he considered himself ‘Absolutely Scottish’. Born to Scottish parents, Hugh and Cathy, he grew up in Glasgow with 3 brothers, Blair, Kenneth and Michael.

After a ‘gap’ year with his best friend , Geoff,  in 60s London, working at St Stephens Hospital and pulling pints on the Kings Road, Brian decided to be a teacher.

He switched from the science subjects of his Highers and focused on history and drama. Later he earned degrees in educational leadership and in TEFL. He taught in Denmark for a year and learned passable Danish. After that he took up his first post in Saudi Arabia teaching English and for 9 years taught in secondary and intermediate  schools. He also taught in an adult education programme at the University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. He was then recruited to teach at the university (later to be known as King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals). Several times he was ‘Teacher of the Year’,  known as Mr Brian throughout the Eastern Province ! He continued  to teach there as a valued member of English Language Centre until 2012 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Brian was passionate about everything he did. As well as his passion for the English language he played rugby, tennis, squash very  competitively and swam with great determination until the last stages of his illness. Poetry and music were pastimes which he always enjoyed and Brian was in choirs throughout his life. He had a particular love of choral music.

Brian was married to Marjorie for 30 years and is survived by their three sons, John, David and Mark and three grandchildren, Monty, Maple and Marigold in Canada.