Latest Event Updates

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.

Table Top Sale on 14 November

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Table Top Sale

South Devon Choir is having a fund-raiser to help with staging the Verdi Requiem in July 2016.  The Table Top Sale will be held on Saturday 14th November 2015 from 10am until 12.30pm in the Church Hall at St Paul’s Church, Preston, Paignton.

It’s your chance to browse the tables of bric-a-brac, crafts, cards, CDs, Christmas decorations and, of course, the Cake Stall, to grab yourself a bargain.  (And we hesitate to mention it quite so soon but Christmas is coming … perhaps a little early shopping to get ahead of the rush?)

While you are with us why not have a cup of coffee or tea and a biscuit and perhaps a slice of cake?  Bring a friend, bring lots of friends!

Entrance is just 50p and who knows what you could find?

Bag Yourself a Bargain
Bag Yourself a Bargain

 

 

Start the new season

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

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

Well done everyone

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

Sally says

“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.

Rhythms get stuck in our heads

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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.