Classical Music

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

The Verdi Soloists – Cheryl Brendish

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Cheryl Brendish
Cheryl Brendish

In the fourth of our soloist introductions the Coast to Coast Choir has pleasure in introducing the soprano singing the mezzo soprano role in the combined choirs performance of Verdi’s famous Messe da Requiem to be performed at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd July 2016 in the Assembly Rooms, Torquay Town Hall.  Tickets for the Torquay performance can be obtained through this website – for further details click here 

If you are unable to come to Torquay then the performance takes place again in the Pannier Market, Barnstaple on Sunday 3rd July starting at 3pm.

The soprano singing the mezzo soprano role is the effervescent and versatile Cheryl Brendish.  As you will see from her resume below she has had a varied career and we have discovered it started at the very young age of seven when she won her class at the Mansfield Music Festival singing Where the Bee Sucks.  Regrettably there is no recording of that occasion available on the internet, nor indeed have we been able to find a clip of Cheryl singing so you will have to content yourselves with listening to the Liber Scriptus performed by Violeta Urmana and know that you will have the pleasure of hearing Cheryl sing this beautiful solo when you come along to the concert.

We understand that Cheryl enjoys an active career as an operatic and concert performer. She studied voice for many years and her operatic roles include Thirza The Wreckers, a role which had not been performed on stage for 100 years, directed by David Sulkin; Suzuki Madame Butterfly; First Lady Magic Flute; Zerlina Don Giovanni; Dido in Dido & Aeneas and many more.

Cheryl is also a successful concert artist. In 1985 she performed Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with Sir Simon Rattle and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Alan Opie in 2005. Other concert repertoire highlights include Verdi Requiem, Mozart Requiem, Handel Messiah, Bach Christmas Oratorio, Bach Magnificat, Elgar The Kingdom and Charpentier’s Te Deum.

Cheryl has been the guest soloist with the Mount Charles Band at the The Minack Theatre for the past 9 years for ‘Last Night of the Proms’.

Cheryl has been invited to attend many masterclasses, including on 1982 with John Carol-Case and most recently with Ingrid Surgenor, Mollie Petrie, Richard Jackson, Russel Smyth, Peter Harrison and Neil and Penny Jenkin.

A member of Cantamus from 1978 to 1983, Cheryl studied in London before joining the Victoria State Opera, Melbourne. Cheryl moved to Cornwall in 1997 and won the title of Cornwall’s Vocal Champion in 2000. Cheryl performs many solo recitals both in and out of the county; along with Kay Deeming and Paul Drayton, Cheryl formed the trio ‘Col Canto’ in 2005.

The past few years have been challenging and exciting for Cheryl as her voice has blossomed into a full lyrical soprano, which has opened up a whole new repertoire of heroines to be portrayed. Cheryl continues to produce and develop her ‘Opera Cabaret’, where she performs a variety of genres from jazz to swing and cabaret classics all mixed with storytelling and torch songs; with invited musicians from across the south west.

 

The Verdi Soloists – Darren Jeffrey

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Darren Jeffery
Darren Jeffery

In the third of our introductions we turn our attention to the bass soloist in the Coast to Coast Choir’s performance of Verdi’s famous Messe da Requiem to be performed at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd July 2016 in the Assembly Rooms, Torquay Town Hall. Tickets for the Torquay performance can be obtained through this website – for further details click here

If you are unable to come to Torquay then the performance takes place again in the Pannier Market, Barnstaple on Sunday 3rd July starting at 3pm.

Singing the bass soloist’s part for us is Darren Jeffery. If, like most of us, you wish you could attend the BBC Proms but trying to get hold of tickets, travel and somewhere to stay makes such a trip out of reach you will be pleased to know that, not only can you hear a work that is being performed at the Proms this year but also, a performer who has sung a major roles at the Proms including performing in Elijah in 2003.

Here’s a taste of his voice like the finest, darkest chocolate. Listen as Darren sings “Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge” from Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner and let it whet your appetite for his performances in the dramatic Messe da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi.

Darren has had a varied and successful professional career. He was born in Fordham, Cambridgeshire and attended The King’s School, Ely. He then studied as both an undergraduate and graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music from 1995 to 2001. During that time he won the RNCM’s highest student award, the Curtis Gold Medal. He sang in the chorus of Glyndebourne Festival Opera while still a post-graduate student as well as singing the title role in the college’s 2001 production of Verdi’s Falstaff. On completion of his studies in Manchester, he joined The Royal Opera’s Young Artists Programme in its founding year.

Jeffery made his professional debut as a principal artist as Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca at the Royal Opera House in 2002. He subsequently appeared with the company in several more roles, including Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Monterone in Rigoletto, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. He went on to an international career, appearing on the stages of many European opera houses and festivals. In 2008 he was a finalist in the Seattle International Wagner Competition and in 2013 made his US debut as Kothner in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.  His work as a soloist in oratorio and concert includes  ElijahLe RossignolLe TroyensThe Seven Last Words of ChristPeter Grimes, and most recently a concert performance of the Glyndebourne production of Billy Budd.

Among Darren’s several appearances at the BBC Proms was Elijah in 2003.

We look forward to welcoming him to Torquay and Barnstaple and hearing him sing.

The Verdi Requiem Soloists – Dawid Kimberg

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Dawid Kimberg
Dawid Kimberg

The treats continue as the Coast to Coast Choir has pleasure in introducing the second of the four soloists for the combined choirs performance of Verdi’s famous Messe da Requiem to be performed at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd July 2016 in the Assembly Rooms, Torquay Town Hall. 

If you are unable to come to Torquay then the performance takes place again in the Pannier Market, Barnstaple on Sunday 3rd July starting at 3pm.

Tickets for the Torquay performance can be obtained through this website – for further details click here

Second on our list of soloists for these two concerts is South African baritone Dawid Kimberg.  Dawid has stepped in to sing the tenor part as the soloist originally advertised, David Webb, is unable to join us.  We are fortunate indeed to have Dawid to sing with us – as you will discover from his resume and the wonderful video from Inside Opera Live he is not only a fine singer but also capable of turning tweets into artistry.

Dawid was a Jette Parker Young Artist for The Royal Opera 2009–11, singing roles including Steersman (Tristan und Isolde) Moralès (Carmen) Marullo (Rigoletto) and Surintendant des Plaisirs (Cendrillon). Since leaving the Programme he has returned to sing Masetto (Don Giovanni) for the Company.

Kimberg was born in Johannesburg and moved to the UK in 2001 to study singing with Ryland Davies at the Royal College of Music and at the National Opera Studio. Kimberg’s engagements have included Dr Falke for Bolshoi Opera, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) for Opera Holland Park, Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) for Glyndebourne on Tour, Mr Gedge for Théâtre du Capitole du Toulouse and Ned Keene (Peter Grimes) for Deutsche Oper am Rhein.

Kimberg regularly performs in many major oratorio works in the UK and beyond, and in recital has sung at the Wigmore Hall. Further concert appearances include Schubert’s song cycles  Die schöne Müllerin  and Schwanengesang in the Crush Room at the Royal Opera House.

 

The Verdi Requiem Soloists – Heloise West

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Héloïse West
Héloïse West – soprano

We are in for a real treat as the Coast to Coast Choir has pleasure in introducing the soloists for the combined choirs performance of Verdi’s famous Messe da Requiem to be performed at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd July 2016 in the Assembly Rooms, Torquay Town Hall.  If you are unable to come to Torquay then the performance takes place again in the Pannier Market, Barnstaple on Sunday 3rd July starting at 3pm. Tickets for the Torquay performance can be obtained through this website – for further details click here

First on our list of soloists for these two concerts is Héloïse West, a well-known and accomplished soprano who we are delighted to welcome.  Heloise will take us through the highs and lows of the great work finally reaching the highest of high notes towards to the end of the Requiem.  You will discover what this is like if you watch the video below, sung by Renee Fleming and conducted by Antonio Pappano – if you haven’t time to listen to the whole piece go to 7 mins 15 seconds and listen for a moment or two. At 11mins 26 seconds you can hear another stratospherically high note. This is, indeed, one of the great feats of the human voice and to hear a singer live achieve this wonderful sound is a treat indeed.

Héloïse West was born in Devon.  When she joined the National Youth Choir of Great Britain she received a gifted pupil award. She gained an Entrance Exhibition to the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with an LRAM and a Bachelor of Music degree in performance. She has also studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Héloïse has recently started an in-depth course of study on Wagnerian roles with Lionel Friend.

She has a busy career in the South West singing oratorios.

Her performances include : Bach- St.Matthew Passion, St.John Passion,Mass in B Minor, Brahms– Requiem, Handel- Messiah, Haydn– Nelson Mass, Creation,Mendelssohn-Elijah, Mozart– C Minor Mass, Coronation Mass, Requiem,Poulenc-Gloria, Verdi-Requiem.

#verdicoast #torquay