February 2017: I am delighted to announce that I have been appointed as Chorus Master to the South West Festival Chorus. The choir was founded in 2001 and draws on singers throughout the South West and beyond. I hope that this will take me one step further towards my ultimate dream – to conduct Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius.
Before that, we will be singing Mozart’s Requiem on 9 July in Frome, and I am hoping that we can encourage sizeable numbers to join us for one of the most sublime works in the entire choral repertoire. More details can be found here. It would be marvellous, of course, if as many members of MCCS as possible would sign up; our Brahms concert is on 21 May, after which we don’t meet up again until September – the perfect thing to keep everyone going until the autumn.
Last term we sang Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. It was a big challenge, and also a big risk; not to everyone’s taste, and certainly not an easy sing. I must confess that I was a little worried that choir numbers would fall away as people decided that it was not for them. I was wrong. To my surprise, the choir numbered ninety-something for the concert, and I was blown away by their enthusiasm and commitment to the task.
Heading into a new term, I was confident that, having survived the Bernstein, Brahms would be a much more popular choice! However, I wasn’t fully prepared for where we find ourselves now. A hundred and thirty singers have signed up to sing the Brahms Requiem, including 14 tenors! I’m not sure how we’re going to fit everyone on the Assembly Hall stage, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it in May; in the meantime, it is clear in rehearsals each week that the choir has gained new energy and even more commitment than before.
We are also raising our game in several areas. We have a new logo, and for our next concert we will have a glossy colour programme sponsored by several local businesses [including The Leafy Tea Company run by Monkton pupil April Collins].
Perhaps most excitingly, as the choir continues to grow, it is evident that many of the new singers who come along are experienced and have come because they have heard good things about Monkton Combe Choral Society. Although we only perform in Monkton, either in the Assembly Hall or the Chapel, our reputation within Bath seems to be growing. No mean feat, since Bath boasts more choirs per square mile than just about anywhere else, or so I am led to understand anyway!