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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

 

Local talent

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When we see a professional singer on the stage, in their home environment, performing in front of a big audience we often forget that for every professional singer there are hundreds of amateurs and young professionals putting themselves out there for all to hear and judge.

Clare Lash Williams - Soprano
Clare Lash Williams – Soprano

At our concert on Saturday 12th March South Devon Choir was pleased to welcome a new young singer who performed the soprano part in Schubert’s Mass in G.

Clare Lash-Williams attended Sherborne School for Girls where she excelled in music. Fast becoming an in-demand Soprano soloist Claire has appeared as a singer on regional TV.

As member of the Collati Singers, Clare regularly sings for a range of choral events and has recently worked with the Alvington Singers, the Lympstone Military Wives and the Crediton Singers. She also sings for weddings and special events and is currently expanding her teaching practice.

Despite being afflicted with a cold and cough (which seems to be norm for this end of a long damp winter) Clare Lash Williams demonstrated that she has a lovely voice with pure top notes and gave a performance much enjoyed by the Choir and audience alike.  Our thanks go to her for travelling to be with us for a short but much appreciated participation in the concert; we hope that we will see and hear more of her in the future (and that her cold gets better very quickly).

John Christian - Tenor
John Christian – Tenor

Choir members usually stay bashfully in the body of the Choir but one of our tenors, John Christian, came out to perform a solo in the Schubert Mass.

John has been singing as a tenor with the South Devon Choir since 2002 during which time he has also been developing as a solo singer – he has sung for local choirs, including The Stanborough Chorus, singing the tenor solos in Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise and Elijah, Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast and making various guest appearances. He is also a soloist at St Paul’s, Preston, in their regular Easter gathering of singers for Stainer’s Crucifixion and Maunder’s Olivet to Calvary.

John studies locally with Veronica Layne and sings in S.W. England Festivals both in Torbay and Plymouth.

It is great to have such enthusiasm and talent within the Choir and John displays his artistic side both as a singer and a maritime artist.  In the past he has also been kind enough to donate pictures for Choir funding raising activities so one way and another the Choir has much to say thank you to him for.  (You can see his pictures on his website .)

 

 

 

A Happy Chairperson

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Sally Laird - Chairperson of South Devon Choir
Sally Laird – Chairperson

What a wonderfully enjoyable concert our South Devon Choir gave on Saturday in Central Church Torquay!

I’m so proud of the Choir – they worked very hard and made a wonderful sound!

And I’ve never seen the audience look so happy!

 

 

 

John Hobbs - Musical Director pictured at the concert The Creation March 2015
John Hobbs – Musical Director pictured at the concert The Creation March 2015

We sang a glorious mix of favourite choral classics and Schubert’s Mass in G – conducted by our lovely Musical Director, John Hobbs ,who also stepped cheerfully into the breach and sang the short bass solos gloriously as always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Matthews
Tim Matthews

As for our new accompanist – Tim Matthews- he never stopped playing all night – and all day too if you count the rehearsal time he put in. Those organ solos – wow!  Nearly blew the roof off at times; and lovely to hear the beautiful Steinway played so well.

Onward and upwards everybody – Verdi Requiem next – can’t wait!

From your very delighted Chairperson!

I was glad

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Famous Choral Classic for a Royal Birthday Celebration

There are some pieces of music which are so familiar and well-loved and  I was glad by Sir Hubert Parry is surely one of them.

Sung at the entrance of the Monarch at the Coronation and at royal celebrations such as weddings, with the advent of widespread television, this anthem will be well-known to millions.  South Devon Choir will conclude its Choral Classics concert on 12 March 2016 with this lovely piece of music – as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she approaches the occasion of her 90th birthday.

For further details of this concert and to obtain tickets please click here.

Tickets are also available on the door – the concert starts at 7.30pm at Central Church, Torquay.

 

#queenelizabeth #royalbirthday #torquay #music #concert

 

 

 

Be an Early Bird

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Catch a Choral Workshop ticket

Early Bird
Early Bird

If you love singing, and especially with other people, South Devon Choir are holding a Choral Workshop on the amazingly dramatic and well known Verdi’s Requiem.

Discounted tickets will be available until 12th February, so being an Early Bird is advisable.

The all-day workshop has been arranged to assist members of the Choir as they prepare to perform the Requiem on 2nd July in Torquay and members of other choirs and the general public are also very welcome.

Tickets have been selling fast to beat the Early Bird expiry date of 12 February but there are  places still available and the Choir will run a waiting list if the Workshop is over-subscribed.  If you are interested in attending the Workshop more information is available here.

If you think you would like to join the Choir and sing the Requiem with us then details about joining are available here.

We promise – it will be an experience that you won’t forget.

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

Start the new season

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Sally Laird - Chairperson of South Devon Choir
Sally Laird – Chairperson

Dear Choir Members and supporters

I hope you have enjoyed a lovely Summer.   I’m writing to give you some important dates for your diary about rehearsals and concerts coming up this season as well as information about some of the social and fund-raising events your committee are planning for 2015/2016.

We start rehearsing again in St Paul’s Church Hall, Preston, on Thursday September 3rd at 7.30 as usual. This term we are singing Bach’s Magnificat in D, Vivaldi’s Gloria and also his Magnificat. The concert will be on Saturday November 28th in the church of St Mary the Virgin, St Marychurch, Torquay, and will be accompanied by Chris Sears on the organ. This concert is being funded by a substantial bequest from our choir member, bass Brian Armstrong who sadly died in February; we will be commemorating him and his deep love of choral music by singing at his request the Gloria by Vivaldi, one of his favourite pieces of music.

Following the success of our Carol Concert last year, we are hoping to hold another one in December this year. We are waiting to finalise details with one of the Rotary clubs of Torquay who are keen to work with us.

Our Spring/Easter concert will be on Saturday March 12th, in Central Church, Torquay. We will be singing Schubert’s mass in G and a selection of favourite Choral Classics from copies bought by the Choir. Some of these will be dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II since she will be celebrating her 90th birthday very soon after that date. We are hoping the soloists in this concert will be members of the choir.

Already in your diaries, I hope, is The Big One! – On Saturday July 2nd and Sunday July 3rd we will be singing Verdi’s glorious Requiem. This will be a joint venture with the North Devon Choral Society, and we will be giving the opportunity to members of other local choral societies to join us.

On Saturday July 2nd at 7.30  we will be singing in the Assembly Rooms, Torquay Town Hall; and on Sunday July 3rd we will travel up to Barnstaple to sing in the specially prepared Pannier Market – quite an experience if you haven’t taken part in a joint concert before! This concert will be at 3.00pm.

We will be accompanied at both concerts by our professional Festival Orchestra and have already booked some wonderful soloists. Joint discussions on organisation are already well under way and we’re sure both choirs are really looking forward to this event!

Since these concerts will incur quite high costs to put on we are looking for local funding and also planning a series of fund-raising events which include so far: a table-top sale on Saturday November 14th in St Paul’s Church Hall from 9.00 till 1.00, and a cream tea and quiz, details to be confirmed; there are other ideas in the pipeline. We are also hoping to organise a day’s choral workshop for the Requiem. All ideas for fund-raising would be welcomed as well as offers of help from volunteers when the occasions arise.

Finally, having said a fond farewell to our talented accompanist Trevor Bray at our Gershwin concert in July, this season we are looking forward to welcoming our new accompanist Tim Matthews.  Tim was trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Lancaster University; he further studied piano and organ and has been involved in churches and church music from the time he was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. He lives in Crediton where he teaches piano, voice and music theory. He has recently founded the Crediton Singers, directs the Alvington Singers and is Musical Director of the Lympstone Military Wives’ Choir.

I look forward to seeing you all on September 3rd.

Best wishes – Sally Laird – Chairperson

Well done everyone

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Sally Laird - Chairperson of South Devon Choir
Sally Laird – Chairperson

Sally says

“I have to say a huge well done to everybody in the Choir who was there to enjoy our wonderful concert last night.  We sang our hearts out – and I think our audience really enjoyed themselves! And as for Trevor – we will certainly miss his twinkling fingers – he was the star last night.

A big thank you to John Hobbs too – he looked so happy – definitely pleased with us and thank you to Margaret Hobbs too – her commentary was excellent.”

Wishing you all have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing all choir members, both old and new, on September 3rd for the start of another term of glorious harmony together.

Rhythms get stuck in our heads

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When George Gershwin wrote ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ he was describing what we all can identify with – when one of those tunes gets stuck in your head and you just can’t stop it – “Got a little rhythm, a rhythm, a rhythm, that pit-a-pats through my brain”.   In fact, it’s “So darn persistent, The day isn’t distant, When it’ll drive me insane.”

Of course the Choir’s intention on Saturday 11th July is not to drive you insane but to entertain you with our concert of Gershwin music – Fascinating Rhythm.  Tickets are available online and on the door.  The performance starts at 7.30pm at Central Church, Tor Hill Road, Torquay.

And if you’ve wondered about this strange mind phenomenon, known as an ‘earworm’, perhaps this little video from TedEd will illuminate what might be happening.

Got the Gershwin Blues

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Which way to turn ... the page?
Which way to turn … the page?

Has Chorally Confused got the mid-term Gershwin singing blues?  Learning songs for our next concert, Fascinating Rhythm, has been a challenging and steep learning curve.  The harmonies are complex and very different from the classical pieces of choral music the Choir has learned recently and the rhythms are well, fascinating.

The score for this concert has been hand written in places and this makes for an appreciation of what singers might have experienced before the advent of printed music.  Think Handel with a goose feather quill and octopus ink, a shaky hand after a pint or two of good German lager and you begin to get the drift.

Chorally Confused, who has never learned to read music but can now follow it (as she thought) pretty successfully, is suffering from repeatitis.  For those of you who spend time with your head in a stave this might be just run of the mill but for those of us with a big red L-plate on our back in the musical reading department repeated repeats can become confusing and the score for this concert is full of repeats: repeat: full of repeats!

Not only are there simple repeats, sing through to the repeat mark(:) turn back and sing it again, but there are repeats inside the repeats.  Sing to the repeat mark, turn back and sing it again, carry on after the second time to the repeat marks, and go back – Where!?

The most useful musical term learned so far is “Thumb”, written at the point where Chorally Confused must insert her thumb in order to go back to the first repeat.  It  may not be the correct classical music notation but its the easiest way  to navigate successfully.  One wiser and more experienced member of the Choir said use a paperclip, which is a good idea, and anyhow Chorally Confused would need to have a thumb in the score to find the paperclip.

Spot the repeats :
Spot the repeats :

Chorally Confused sings soprano, the top line – the previous user of the score, who sang alto on the next line down, wrote some instructions too, although not quite sure what auburn refers to…. faster is perfectly clear.

Come what may the Choir is very grateful to the North Devon Choral Society for the loan of the scores and to Robin Page, who painstakingly and beautifully arranged the music in SATB parts for Choirs like us to sing.