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Our choir sing at Exeter Cathedral

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Members of South Devon Choir were thrilled to be invited to perform at Exeter Cathedral for this year’s Festival of Remembrance, organised by the Royal British Legion, Devon.

The festival included a short concert featuring the choir as well as music by service bands, followed by the traditional Act of Remembrance and a procession of the many flags and standards of the British Legion, service associations and cadets.

Preparing for the concert

“We were delighted to be able to take part in this important commemoratioin of the servoce and sadly the sacrifice of the many people who have taken part in past battles”, said Jill Stevens, Chair of the choir.

“The opportunity to perform in our county’s cathedral does not come very often. And this year’s event was particularly moving, as it was the 40th anniversary of the Falklands war.”

The choir sang a mixture of classical choral items by Faure, Mozart and Handel – many of them items already in rehearsal for their coming concert, Crown & Glory, being performed at St Matthias’ Church, Torquay on 26 November.

Jill said, “We were so pleased that we had a number of suitable pieces already prepared, such as the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ and ‘Zadok the Priest’ – and then, to sing them in that wonderfuf setting, with its fabulous organ and acoustics, was the icing on the cake!”

The choir is continuing to rehearse for their concert on 26 November, when they will be singing Mozart’s ‘Coronation Mass’ and some of Handel’s most loved choruses and arias, with professisonal soloists and a full orchestra.

Details of the concert and how to buy tickets can be found here.

How we helped our local NHS

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Lisa, Liz Davenport, Jill and Prim at Torbay Hospital
with the BIG cheque

You’ll be delighted to know that, thanks to our workshop and performance of Fauré’s ‘Requiem’ back in June, we were recently able to present a cheque for no less than £1000 to the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust. This was far more than the £600+ that we raised on the day, thanks to some very generous donations that came in later.


Our three officers – Jill (Chair), Prim (Treasurer) and Lisa (Secretary) – met with the Trust’s Chief Executive Liz Davenport to make the presentation. And the cheque was an appropriately large one to match the funds raised by everyone.


The fund-raising event was planned as a memorial to those affected by and lost in the covid pandemic. The funds raised were to thank the dedicated local health workers for their care and commitment during that time, and to support their work in the local community.


Liz Davenport said: “I would like to thank the South Devon Choir and everyone who supported their ‘come and sing’ performance for their generosity and kindness.” She added: “Support from local people means so
much to our organisation, and this donation highlights the compassion and support that our local communities provide.”


Our donation will go to the Trust’s Charitable Fund, and our Committee will work with the Trust on how the money will be used.

Jill said, “I’d like to thank all those who took part, as singers or supporters, not only in making the day such a memorable occasion but also in enabling us to make this gift to our local NHS.”

A Ceremony of Psalms Workshop

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A busy day of singing with composer, Paul Drayton, who taught us, coaxed us and drilled us in how to sing his beautiful and dramatic work, A Ceremony of Psalms, accompanied by Simon Dunbavand on the organ. A day full of amusement and lots of concentration on rhythm, articulation and dynamics.

Simon was taking notes as well as playing them.

Timmy appreciating the quiet pauses

Our choir mascot, Timmy, enjoyed the day and the music. See those musical ears?

To hear the work please come to our concert on 21 May 2022 at St Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road, Torquay. Tickets are now available from this link

Feast after famine

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South Devon Choir performed Handel’s Messiah on Saturday 11 December 2021at St Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road, Wellswood, Torquay. The concert was the first to be conducted by Simon Dunbavand and the first concert performed by the choir since the start of the pandemic.

We welcomed back our professional soloists, Catherine Hamilton, Rebecca Squire, John Hobbs and a well-known but new to us tenor, Mark Hounsell.

But a successful performance requires hard work and lots of practice and we are blessed with the musical ability and passion of our Director of Music, Simon Dunbavand, who rehearsed us for the autumn term and conducted the performance.

150 Years of singing in Torbay and South Devon

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Could this have been the formation of the Choir?

We are so excited to tell you all about our plans for the new season 2021–2022, in which we celebrate an impressive 150 years of our Choir singing in Torbay. In this we are sharing glory with the Royal Albert Hall, which is also celebrating the same wonderful milestone!

We begin the year rehearsing for our first concert, ‘Messiah’ by George Frederick Handel. This will be performed on Saturday December 11th in St Matthias’ Church, Torquay, which has recently undergone a remarkable internal transformation that has introduced excellently flexible new seating as well as underfloor heating. The Festival Orchestra will be accompanying us, and we have wonderful soloists including soprano Catherine Hamilton and our very own former conductor and glorious bass, John Hobbs.

Soprano Soloist - Catherine Hamilto

Catherine is also booked to come along to our rehearsal on Thursday October 14th to give us guidance on vocal technique – an event not to be missed!

We plan to bring our Choir to the attention of all singers in the bay through several come-and-sing workshops throughout our celebratory year. Our Director of Music, Simon Dunbavand, will lead the first, a birthday open-to-all sing-along of favourite choruses from ‘Messiah’ in St Matthias’ Church on Saturday November 6th, 1.30–5.30pm (with birthday cake!). More details will come nearer the time.

For our late spring concert, in St Matthias’ Church on Saturday May 21st, we move our focus to the 21st century, performing John Rutter’s powerful and exciting ‘Gloria’, as well as Paul Drayton’sA Ceremony of Psalms’. Apart from his role as composer, Paul’s career has included conducting St Austell Choral Society and 14 years as Music Director of Duchy Opera.


In addition, I’m delighted to announce that Simon Dunbavand is marking this special year by writing a work for our Choir, to be performed at this concert, called ‘Gitanjali’ – a work based on poems by the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was closely associated with Dartington Hall School. The concert will be accompanied by the prestigious brass ensemble Abbey Brass, who have made an excellent recording of the Rutter and Drayton works that Choir members will be able to acquire.

In preparation for this spring concert, the Committee has planned two workshops, both to be held at St Matthias’ Church, 10.30–4.30. Simon will lead a workshop on Rutter’s Gloria’ on Saturday February 12th, while composer Paul Drayton will head a workshop on his ‘Ceremony of Psalms’ on Saturday March 12th . I hope you are writing these dates in your diary right now! The workshops will be open to all singers and we hope to attract many new visitors to the Choir to enjoy working with us.

In the summer term, after the Rutter–Drayton–Dunbavand concert in May, you will have a chance to sing again some of the lovely choruses from our ‘Choral Classics’ book that we rehearsed last term online.

Our 150th Anniversary Season will finish with some Choir social activities, which we hope will include attending a concert in Exeter Cathedral, and a social outing together which we plan to conclude with a celebratory meal!

Timmys Tales Ch 6

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Timmy Goes to Mevagissey

Timmy at Mevagissey

Timmy’s final adventure in this series takes him and his humans to the Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey.

With a fascinating insight into the history of the Snowflake, a trip to the pub naturally, an early morning dip in the harbour and a family all at sea, enjoy the last chapter in Timmy’s Tales for now.

Download Timmy’s Tales here Timmy’s Tales Ch 6

Timmys Tales Ch 5

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Timmy goes to Lustleigh

Timmy and his human
Timmy and Simon

Timmy and his humans have a trip to Lustleigh.  As any self-respecting dog will tell you, a river with a beach is a delight and Timmy has a favourite spot to share.  With a trip along an old train track and ghostly goings-on at an ancient site poised high above The Cleave, Timmy has plenty to interest him in this week’s instalment of Timmy’s Tales.

 

Timmy’s Tales Ch5

Timmys Tales Ch 4

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Timmy goes to Bodmin Moor

Timmy on Bodmin Moor

This week Timmy sets off across the border from Devon to Cornwall to explore Bodmin Moor. Using his super sleuth nose he finds plenty of ghostly goings on and possibly the odd dropped chip or two as he ascends to the heights of the moor and gazes at the panoramic views.

You can join Timmy on this week’s adventure, download Chapter 4 here.

Timmy’s Tales Ch 4

Timmys Tales Ch 3

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Timmy goes to Dartmoor

Timmy on Dartmoor
Timmy on Dartmoor

Timmy is off on his adventures again, complete with visits to a hostelry or two, chasing phantom hounds across the moor, and finding the best seat in the village.

Download Timmy’s Tales here

Timmy’s Tales Ch 3

Timmys Tales Ch 2

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Timmy goes to Exmoor

Where is Timmy?

Where do you think Timmy is in the picture? Let us know – it’s a race to see who guesses correctly first (without having read Chapter 2 of Timmy’s Tales first of course).

To help you guess, today we are going with Timmy on another eleven-mile walk: from the beautiful hamlet of Countisbury on the sea cliffs of Exmoor with its wild ponies, along the South West Coast Path to find the elusive deer in rutting season.

You can download Chapter 2 here Timmy’s Tales Ch 2.