Brixham

Armistice Day Service 2018

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Choir marks Armistice Centenary

Members of South Devon Choir with the Rev. Ian Blyde, the Rector of Brixham, at the Remembrance Day Service at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Churston.

Members of South Devon Choir helped commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day at Churston Parish Church on Remembrance Sunday.

About 20 members of the large choir assisted the church choristers in the Remembrance service, to help lead the congregation in singing and to perform an anthem.

“It was a wonderful way to mark the peace that eventually came to Europe exactly 100 years ago, after nearly five years of appalling warfare,” said Lisa Prager, Secretary of South Devon Choir.

“It was particularly apt, as our concert Calm after Chaos is only a few weeks away, on 1 December. The concert was planned ages ago, and it includes Haydn’s Nelson Mass, written during another European war, and Chris Williams’ Tsunami Requiem, which is also particularly relevant given recent tsunamis and other natural disasters. At the concert, we’ll be inviting the audience to make donations for the Disasters Emergency Committee to help a number of UK charities.

The concert, at Central Church, Torquay, starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 1 December; tickets are £12 (free for students under 19), and can be obtained by calling 01803 846058; on-line at http://www.southdevonchoir.org/tickets; or on the door.  #sdcnelsonmass

Glorious Russian Choral Music

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A Talk by Simon Dunbavand

Simon Dunbavand
Simon Dunbavand

#torquay #music #Russia # choral –  South Devon Choir are adding to their social calendar this spring with a talk by lecturer and musician, Simon Dunbavand.  He has entitled the talk “Glorious Russian Choral Music” and it promises to be gloriously illustrated with music and a fascinating account by Simon which you can be sure will include some interesting personal anecdotes.

Simon describes himself as an organist, pianist, conductor, choral animateur, lecturer, researcher, writer, composer, teacher, and traveller.  Not only that, Simon is also a Cambridge graduate and was an Organ Scholar of Peterhouse, now resident in Torquay he is also organist at Paignton Parish Church and is accompanist to South Devon Choir among his many other roles.

One of Simon’s passions is Russian Choral music and he has directed performances of Russian Orthodox music, which he researches and collects in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev.

Simon is also a frequent lecturer on classical music themed-cruises, as well as inspiring singers in the Choirs-at-Sea programme. Travel is his greatest pleasure, and when combined with music, produces a thrilling anthropological and ethnographical cocktail, from the ghats of Varanasi, to the monasteries of Luang Prabang in Laos. Simon is proud to have played the ceremonial gong at a Hindu watermelon ritual on Moheshkhali Island in Bangladesh, and trekked to the ancient Buddhist Monasteries of Inle Lake, Burma, across the mountains of the forbidden Shan State to the two-thousand stupas of Kakku with their bells tinkling in the breeze. Simon has visited the Mursi tribe of the Lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia and attended the chanting of the St George’s Day rites in the rock-hewn orthodox churches of the holy city of Lalibella. Recently he took the infamous Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia, and continued onwards into Zimbabwe and South Africa. In 2015 he has particularly enjoyed visiting the Corcovado district of Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro in Panama, and travelling by train across Uzbekistan.

The event will take place in The Rougemont Room, Toorak Hotel, Chestnut Avenue, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5JS on Tuesday 6 March commencing at 7pm.  There is a bar and tea/coffee are also available.  The cost for the event is £7.00 per person – tickets are available from Prim Wood, Telephone 01803 872296, or on the door.

Find out more about Simon Dunbavand on his website.

Will the real Father Christmas please stand up

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St Nicolas, the real Father Christmas

Excitement builds in the minds of small children as Christmas Eve approaches and Santa leaves presents for them but what do we know of this magical person?  Who is he? Who was he?

The origin of Father Christmas, or to give him his proper name, St Nicolas, is shrouded in the mists of time.  All we know of him is largely down to a writer from the 9th century giving an account of a figure who lived some 500 years before, one Nicolas of Myra.

Nicolas of Myra was reputed to have performed a number of kindly, indeed saintly, acts including the restoration to life of children whom he raised from the dead, the rescues of three sisters destined for a life of misery and prostitution, three men from an unjust death and three drowning sailors off the coast of Turkey.  You can see the influence of the holy number three in these accounts.

His diverse activities have earned him the patronage of unmarried girls, pawnbrokers, merchants, perfumiers and apothecaries as well as the modern fame in which he is now held.

At our concert on 25 November we will sing of the life of St Nicolas, including the restoration to life of the children.  In the Britten Cantata the children are three small boys, Timothy, Mark and John, whose parents are in anguish at their disappearance.  Nicolas realises that the boys have been pickled in brine by an unscrupulous butcher and supplied as meat to a landlord in the famine stricken land. He restores them to life and you will hear them in the concert as their parts are sung by three choristers from Exeter Cathedral.

Forget Strictly, catch up on iPlayer, and come out for an evening of choral entertainment with us as we sing St Nicolas and the famous Bach Cantata BMV140 Sleepers, Wake!  and if you would like to join us for a finger buffet afterwards then be quick and buy tickets for that too – the deadline is Saturday 18 November (for catering purposes) but concert tickets will be available on the door on the night.

Tickets are available online click here

For more information about the concert click here – do join us.

Christus Natus Est!

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Joyous Christmas Singing

Mobile phone technology being what it is now, a member of our audience has supplied us with this recording of the last part of Cecelia McDowall’s lovely Christmas Cantata, “Christus Natus Est!” We hope it will enjoyed once again by those who attended the concert and for the first time by those who didn’t.

Happy Christmas, to one and all.

 

 

 

Handel and his Messiah

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Handel
Handel

Handel was born in Saxony in 1685, the same year that J.S. Bach was born in Thuringia, though the two were destined never to meet. Whereas Bach remained in North Germany for the whole of his life, writing a vast amount of choral and instrumental music for his church and court employers, Handel travelled widely, unencumbered with family responsibilities, first to Italy, where he learned the art of opera and adopted the Italian style of writing which coloured his sub-sequent compositions.

On his return, he became Director of Music to the Elector of Hanover, but soon left for England, where he immersed himself in the flourishing operatic scene. His former employer followed him to London in 1714, where he was crowned King George I. It was for him that Handel wrote his famous ‘Water Music’ in 1717.

Handel now moved in the highest circles, becoming Musical Director to the Duke of Chandos and travelling abroad to engage singers for his fourteen new operas. In 1727 he wrote four anthems for the coronation of George II, including ‘Zadok the Priest’, which has been sung at every British coronation since then.

The popularity of Italian-style operas began to wane in England and Handel, somewhat unwillingly, turned his attention to the composition of dramatic oratorios, which proved immensely popular with the English public, thereby sustaining him through the ill-health and eventual blindness which blighted his later years. He died at the age of 74 and was buried with great honour in Westminster Abbey. Beethoven later said of him, “Go and learn of him how to achieve great effects with simple means”; and Haydn, hearing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in Westminster Abbey at the great Handelian Festival of 1791, rose to his feet with the crowd, wept, and exclaimed, “He is the master of us all.”

‘Messiah’, composed between 22nd August and 14th September 1741, with a libretto selected from scriptures by Charles Jennens, was first performed in Dublin on 13th April 1742, since when it has remained at the forefront of the choral repertoire, both at home and abroad.

South Devon Choir will sing Part 1, the Advent/Christmas section of this mighty work on Saturday 10 December 2016 at Central Church, Tor Hill Road, Torquay.  The performance starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available on the door at a cost of £12.  The Choir will also perform Lo! Star Led Chiefs by Dr Crotch, Christus Natus Est! by the contemporary composer Cecelia McDowall and there will be Christmas carols for all to sing.  In addition there will be two special solos from the unfinished oratorio ‘Christus’ by Mendelssohn.   With professional soloists and organist Simon Dunbavand and conducted by John Hobbs the evening promises to be full of wonderful harmonies and Christmas spirit.

For further information and online tickets click Hallelujah! It’s Christmas!

#sdchoirchristmas

Got a Handel on it now?

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Chorally Confused gets a handle on Handel
Chorally Confused

Chorally Confused has been getting along just fine singing with the South Devon Choir.  Despite her relative inexperience and near non-existent music reading skills enthusiasm and determination have paid dividends and when it was announced that the Choir would be singing Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah Chorally Confused thought to herself

“No problem. I’ve heard it so many times, it will be a doddle to learn.  After Verdi’s Requiem, how hard can it be?”

At the first practice Chorally Confused discovered that she was the only one, apparently, who had never sung Messiah before.  Gasps of amazement at her inexperience were heard – then she noticed that she was not the only one who had put up her hand – others, slowly were admitting that they, too, had never sung this piece before.  The conductor smiled cheerily and the rehearsal started.

It’s funny how, no matter how many times you may, or may not, have sung a piece of music there is always something new to be discovered, or some passage that you never sang quite correctly.  For Chorally Confused it has been a whole new experience – how to sing something correctly when you have only heard it sung before and how to pack an awful lot of notes into a very short space of time.  When asked what she thought of it after the first rehearsal she was heard to observe, “I think Handel must have been in a hurry when he wrote this and he didn’t have to try singing it himself.”  Well, she was right in her first observation – the whole work was written in a matter of three to four weeks, so perhaps Handel was in a hurry.

Chorally Confused has also been observed wandering round muttering to herself.  We discovered that this was not muttering but her practising the long runs of notes as suggested – pa-pa-pa-pa.

Providing she, and the rest of the Choir, remember to sing the words, this will have been a very helpful exercise.

By last week’s rehearsal Chorally Confused admitted that she “Had a Handel on it, thanks”.  We are pleased for her.

If you would like to come along and hear the Choir sing on Saturday 10 December at 7.30pm at Central Church, Torquay , and of course hear if  Chorally Confused really has got a handle on the notes and necessarily in the right order, then you can buy tickets online https://southdevonchoir.org/hallelujah-its-christmas/  or on the door.  Tickets cost £12 (please note a booking fee applies online).  Alternatively you can check out our Tickets page for further information.

Please do come.

#sdchoirchristmas #sdcchristmas

 

 

Sing in a choir for health

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Gareth Malone rehearsing the Trafalgar Square audience in singing part of Bizet's Carmen.
Gareth Malone rehearsing the Trafalgar Square audience in singing part of Bizet’s Carmen.

Once singing in a choir was reserved for church on Sundays but in the last few years choral singing has become more and more popular.  Gareth Malone and his series The Choir and other reality TV shows, such as the X Factor, have inspired people to find their voice and find a choir to sing in.  In fact, it is now estimated that 2.8 million people in Briton take part in a choir or singing group and many more probably sing solo in the shower, the kitchen and the car as they go about their daily business. Music is a mood influencer and we have only to look at the amount of music written over centuries to see its powerful effects.

What’s more, it has been shown that if you join a choir you will feel part of a group more quickly than many other activities.  There is something special about singing, revealed in an October 2015 research project undertaken by The Royal Society which indicates that singing may be an evolutionary development that enables human beings to bond more quickly in social situations.

Singing can even act as a pain-killer probably due to the release of endorphins and can create a feeling of well-being, especially when singing as part of a group.  The harmonious activity acts to synchronise us together and creating a beautiful sound lifts the spirits.

We hope that this will have convinced you that a choir is worthwhile joining for all its beneficial effects.  Come along and try for yourself; the Choir resumes singing in September when we shall be practising the fantastic Messiah

 

Picture from https://www.flickr.com/photos/8176740@N05/4703393210/in/photolist-8aC7Wo-8ayTRB-8aC9nm-8aySuX-7YAzYS-7YAAKq-7YAAmh-7YAzBu