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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

 

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

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.

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.