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.

Timmys Tales Ch 1

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Timmy the Super Sleuth

Jurassic Timmy
Timmy goes to the Jurassic Coast

Timmy has taken to the Jurassic Coast this time.  He has visited some exciting places like Durdle Door and met some interesting and ghostly characters, some human and some canine.

His owner, Director of Music for South Devon Choir, Simon, has evidently enjoyed taking him for some long walks and visiting the hostelries in the area.  Once we are all allowed out and about again you might be itching to follow in his footsteps.

To read the latest episode of Timmy’s adventures download a copy below.

Timmy’s Tales Ch 1

A shaggy dog story starts with an introduction

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Timmy’s Tale


As all Choir members know, we have a canine friend who comes along each week; he belongs to our Director of Music, Simon Dunbavand.

Initially Timmy found it very hard to keep quiet when we were singing.  He had to go outside for a while as his impersonation of our choral efforts were not very complementary.  Howling is not what we do! But Timmy has grown and matured and can now be quiet for a whole practice unless he thinks someone or something untoward is happening, when he will let us know with his loud bark.  He found the night of the General Election particularly challenging and, let’s face it, he probably wasn’t alone. Read the rest of this entry »