Vivaldi

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

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

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.