concert

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

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 – 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

 

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

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.