Bach

St Nicolas Concert – Tenor Soloist

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Nick Hawker – Tenor

Nick Hawker performs as St Nicolas himself in our forthcoming concert on Saturday 25 November at St Matthias’ Church, Wellswood, Torquay.  In addition, he will perform in the beautiful Bach Cantata, ‘Sleepers, Wake!’ – a treat to look forward to.

Nicholas began his musical education as a chorister at St Alphege, Solihull. He later read music at Birmingham University, eventually winning a postgraduate scholarship to complete an MPhil thesis on the music of Edward Elgar. Since then he has
edited manuscripts linked with the composition of Elgar’s The Apostles which have now been published by the Elgar Society.

Nicholas Hawker is increasingly in demand as a soloist throughout the South West and further afield. In 2003 Nicholas moved to Truro, Cornwall to take up a choral scholarship with Truro Cathedral Choir. As a lay vicar in Truro Cathedral Choir he has toured throughout Europe, made numerous recordings on the Regent and Lammas record labels and appeared as a soloist on BBC radio and television. He previously sang with the choir of Birmingham Cathedral and has recently performed, recorded and toured with the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge.

Nicholas’ recital repertoire includes the song-cycles Britten’s Winter Words, Schubert’s Winterresie and Schumann’s Dichterliebe as well as other songs by Britten, Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Quilter, Gurney, Elgar, Ireland, Schubert and Schumann. In opera Nicholas has appeared with Birmingham Festival Opera in Shostakovich Moskva Cheremushki and with Duchy Opera in Puccini Madame Butterfly and Mozart The Magic Flute. In 2009 he appeared with Duchy Opera in the premiere of Paul Drayton’s The Hanging Oak.

To hear Nick sing join us on Saturday 25 November at the earlier time of 7pm.

Tickets are available priced £12 for the concert with a separate ticket of £4.00 for the finger buffet.  As usual children and students under 19 are welcome to the concert free of charge but will require a finger buffet ticket at £4.00. Tickets can be obtained from Choir Members, online and of course, on the door.  Please  note that because we have to cater we are asking people to book tickets no later than Saturday 18 November.  There may possibly be extra buffet tickets available on the night but first come, first served as they say.

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To buy tickets now please use our secure online booking system


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St Nicolas Concert Soloist

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Elinor Chapman

Our soprano soloist for our concert on 25 November at St Matthias’ Church, Wellswood, Torquay is the sublime singer, Elinor Chapman.

Elinor graduated with a degree in Law with French before taking a post-graduate diploma in performance and vocal studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Since then she has performed many operatic roles including Despina (Cosi), Oscar (Ballo in Maschera),
Adele (Fledermaus), Mercedes (Carmen) and Blonde (Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail) for
companies including Kentish Opera and Unexpected Opera. For Duchy Opera Elinor has played Malwina in Marschner’s The Vampire and Adina in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love.

She has twice toured as a soloist with the Kent Sinfonia to China and has given concerts and recitals as far afield as New Zealand.

Oratorio work includes Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Judas Maccabbeus, Haydn’s The Seasons, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Faure’s Requiem. Future engagements include Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Little Organ Mass and Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

To hear Elinor perform in Bach’s ‘Sleepers, Wake!’ and ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ from Handel’s Samson Oratorio join us on Saturday 25 November at the earlier time of 7pm.

Tickets are available priced £12 for the concert with a separate ticket of £4.00 for the finger buffet.  As usual children and students under 19 are welcome to the concert free of charge but will require a finger buffet ticket at £4.00. Tickets can be obtained from Choir Members, online and of course on the door.  Please  note that because we have to cater we are asking people to book tickets no later than Saturday 18 November.  There may possibly be extra buffet tickets available on the night but first come, first served as they say.

#sdevonchoirconcert

To buy tickets now please use our secure online booking system


Book now

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.

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.