All posts by Frania Hall

Handel’s Messiah

9th March 2024

‘Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows’ – So said Handel of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in his Messiah in 1741.

Blending majestic choruses, tender and intimate arias, and expressive orchestration Handel’s Messiah tells the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The powerful narrative that flows through this piece as the drama unfolds, the range of moods and the beautiful alignment of text and music all combine to make this magnificent work the most celebrated oratorio in the choral repertoire. We were delighted to be performing again with Vivace! the period instrument ensemble for the first time since Covid.

Conductor Robin Walker.

Leader Hazel Brooks.


Soprano: Katherine Gregory
Countertenor: Alasdair Austin
Tenor: Joseph Hancock
Bass: Tom Butler

Christmas with Cantate – Christmas 2023

For our Christmas concert we performed spiritual and secular music to celebrate the season. Our programme presented a fantastic range of pieces featuring traditional carols alongside new discoveries from across the ages. We sung Bach’s motet Komm, Jesu, komm together with German, French and English carols as well as popular Christmas songs. We also performed less well known music including pieces by late Renaissance composer Marenzio and contemporary Lativan composer Dubra. With music by Praetorius and Brahms, Rutter and Willcocks we offered a wonderful range of pieces, some peaceful and some lively, all full of the spirit of Christmas. There were selections of favourite audience carols for everyone to join in with too. It was a wonderful and varied programme designed for all ages and all interests: we had a great audience join us for the evening as we got the Christmas season well underway.

The Spice of Life – June 2023

Our summer concert Spice of Life was held on Saturday 17th June 2023 at the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, Tonbridge- our organist was our good friend Iestyn Evans.

We continued to celebrate our 20th Year with a gala concert presenting our favourite music, drawn from our performances over the last 20 years, including Vivaldi’s Gloria, Gabrieli’s Jubilate Deo and Bruckner’s Locus Iste. From Gesulado to Rheinberger, Rachmaninov to Whitacre – a range to ensure there was something to delight everyone in our programme. We also performed pieces by Frahm, Morgan and Magnussen, composers who have been great friends of the choir, as well as Over the Rainbow (which we sang, along with the Gabrieli, when we won Top Choir Kent) and The Wellerman – recalling a dewy morning in Knole Park. We were also very excited to be able to welcome back past members of the choir to sing with us again – making this an extra special finale to our Anniversary year.


Saturday 13th May 2023

Poster for the Cantate Choir's Tudor Voices concert in March 2023

Out of one of the most violent periods of religious and political history in England came some of the most sumptuous and divine music ever written. This year marked 400 years since the death of two of the most noted figures of English choral music – William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes. In this concert we paid tribute to these two masters with performances including Salvator mundi by Tallis and Byrd’s Teach me, O Lord and Ne irascaris domine; it also featured other sacred and secular highlights of this era, including works by Gibbons (This is the record of John), Tomkins (When David heard), Dowland (Come again, sweet love doth now invite), as well as a setting of Greensleeves (attributed to Henry VIII).We had a wonderful evening of music from Tudor composers.

Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St John Chrysostom

Saturday 28th January 2023

Ely Cathedral with Ipswich Choral Society

Saturday 4th February 2023

The Chapel of St Augustine, Tonbridge School

Poster for Cantate Choir's Hymn of the Cherubim concert in February 2023

We performed Tchaikovsky’s settings of texts taken from the Divine
Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. We had performed it the previous week in Ely Cathedral which has been an amazing experience – collaborating with Ipswich Choral Society. For our own concert we were in chapel in Tonbridge School.

This is the most celebrated of the Eucharistic services of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Tchaikovsky felt a deep connection with this part of Orthodox worship, writing to a friend that, ‘it is impossible not to be profoundly moved by the liturgy of our own Orthodox Church… to be startled from one’s trance by a burst from the choir; to be carried away by the poetry of this music; to be thrilled when… the words ring out, ‘Praise the name of the Lord!’ – all this is infinitely precious to me! One of my deepest joys!’

The concert opened with a setting of the Prayer for Ukraine. It took place in the glorious setting of St. Augustine Chapel at Tonbridge School.

The programme also featured solo organ pieces including works by Dupré, Vierne, Rheinberger and Reger; this was an opportunity to hear the marvellous Marcussen Organ in the chapel.

Intense and stirring, made all the more thrilling in the
atmosphere of the chapel, we hope you enjoyed our performance as much as we did.







Poster for Cantate Choir's November 2022 20th Anniversary concert of Poulenc's Gloria

We performed a selection of music – Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion, Magnussen’s beautiful setting of the Shakespeare lyric Fear No More, Vierne’s Les Angelus (for soprano solo and organ) and Poulenc’s Gloria; this last piece we performed to celebrate our twentieth anniversary – it was one of the pieces we performed for our first concert.

We were delighted to be joined by Soprano Gwen Martin and Organist Charles Andrews. Robin Walker, our director of music, conducted

Poulenc’s Gloria, completed in 1960, is one of his best-known works. It moves through many moods from jocular to mysterious, from melodious to joyous – sparkling with energy and excitement even its quieter more intricate moments and most especially in its glorious fanfares. The complex organ part evokes the brilliance and drama of a full orchestra. We enjoyed performing this 20 years ago and were delighted to return to it again to celebrate our anniversary.

First performed in 1846, though not published until after Mendelssohn’s death, Lauda Sion was composed to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Corpus Christi. It is celebratory and majestic, most often described as adopting a melodious Italianate style, and reaches a dramatic climax before a calm conclusion in the final movement.

Jonas Magnussen’s setting of the Shakespeare’s song from Cymbeline – Fear no More the Heat ‘o the Sun – simply stirs with soulful beauty.

Gwen Martin and Robin Walker performed Vierne’s Les Angelus, a work of wonderful clarity, at times intense, at others serene, perfect for in St Martin’s church.

Summer 2022 concert


St. Mary’s Church, Platt

Sprig of Thyme

Conductor Robin Walker

We were delighted to perform our programme of American and English folk songs with music by Vaughan Williams, Rutter, Copland and Frahm.

We conjured a world of ballads and love songs where you could walk country lanes and sail the seven seas; find many wonders and curiosities – from American bandicoots to ghostly lovers – and hear the calls of the Ohio river boatmen and listen to the philosophies of the Miller of Dee.

In the 150th anniversary year of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ birth we sung Five English Folk Songs, together with John Rutter’s Sprig of Thyme; together these represent a lovely collection of songs, some recognisable, others less well-known.

Aaron Copland’s sound world is unmistakable in his settings of old American songs, whether he is reworking a minstrel song that recalls America’s majestic rivers or updating a lively farmyard nonsense song.

We were particularly excited to present the world premiere of Late-Night Lyrics by Frederick Frahm including a setting of the poem by Emily Dickinson, ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’. Late-Night Lyrics is a set of three sophisticated and subtle songs on three very different themes.

At times infectious, energetic tunes, at others wistful storytelling, these songs were wide ranging, bringing a host of characters (and animals!) to life. Folk songs tell us many things about beauty and loss, nature and the rhythms of life; this proved to be a perfect selection for a summer’s evening to celebrate the many stories they tell.


St. Mary, Kippington


Conductor Robin Walker

We are delighted to be presenting this programme of richly layered and
dramatic sacred pieces. This is the concert we had been about to perform when
covid struck in 2020 and we are very pleased to be returning to these pieces
once again.

Kodály was born in Hungary and stayed there during the Nazi occupation. In
the last stages of the war he took refuge in the Budapest Opera House and it
was there that he composed Missa Brevis, building on an
earlier work composed in 1942. Its first official premiere was at the Three
Choirs Festival in Worcester in 1948.

The piece is imbued with folk melodies and romanticism. There are moments of
yearning and moments of joyousness; intense and rich, gentle and haunting,
exuberant and exultant, this piece is wonderful to perform and we hope you will
enjoy discovering it if you have not heard it before. 

Four Sacred PiecesQuattro pezzi sacri, were
written separately between 1886 and 1897, towards the end of the Verdi’s life.
 They were published together in 1898 and they are generally performed in
the publisher’s order, rather than chronologically.

Ave Maria was a piece composed to try and harmonise the
enigmatic scale. Intended  as an exercise, it was not originally written
for public performance. The melody is sung by each line in turn and the other
parts harmonise around it, resulting in a lush and beautiful piece.

Stabat Mater is a theatrical composition as the music moves
between the different dramatic moods of the crucifixion.

Laudi alla Vergine Maria is a setting of a prayer in Canto
XXXIII of Dante’s Paradiso, a joyous hymn to the Virgin Mary, for four female
voices a cappella. Gentle and beautiful this is a moment of peace.

Te Deum is a setting for double chorus and provides another
opportunity for operatic drama. The piece ranges from lyrical passages to
thundering climaxes, providing stirring contrasts of mood and movement. This is
the piece Verdi wanted buried with him when he died.

The series as a whole provides music of great beauty and drama. If you came
to our performance of Christmas Oratorio in 2019, you will know we can promise
you an exciting and exhilarating concert. We hope you will join us on the 26th

(UPDATED – when we actually performed the concert covid had unfortunately prevented Charles Andrews from playing the organ)




We were very sad to have to cancel our Christmas concert due to the Omicron strain of Covid that was on the

Christmas with Cantate concert poster, December 2021

After our recent successful concert – a Serenade to Music – The Cantate Choir return again with our Christmas concert taking place at St.Mary Platt on Saturday 18th December.

We were overwhelmed with the fantastic audience who joined us for our November concert, after such a long wait. Now we are back again to celebrate Christmas with a wonderful programme of carols and music for the festive season, with the organ in full song.

We will be performing a variety of traditional Christmas carols from across the ages and we will be including audience favourites too – come and sing along! Having had to cancel Christmas concerts last year we are looking forward to returning full of excitement and good cheer. The Christmas season is well upon us and we hope you will join us to celebrate the festivities in the traditional way!

For the latest covid precautions at our concerts click here.

current COVID precautions at our concerts

The safety of our audience is of utmost importance to us. We are taking great care to implement government guidance on ways to prevent the spread of covid. This includes making hand sanitiser available on the door, ensuring there is good ventilation and spacing out seating between bubbles.

For the concerts we are recommending people wear masks at all times, except those who are unable and exempt.

Serenade to Music

13th November, St. Martin’s Brasted

We were delighted to be back rehearsing for this Autumn. It was a challenging 18 months being unable to gather, sing and plan for concerts since we had to postpone our Spring 2020 concert so many months ago. We have been very excited to be able to rehearse again and have an exciting series of concerts lined up. This first concert of 2021 was particularly exciting as we had such a wonderful audience come to our performance to welcome us back.

Our first welcome back concert for 2021 took place on 13th November at St Martin’s Church, Brasted at 19.30.

We had missed singing so very much that our first programme was a collection of our favourite pieces which we had not been able to perform for a while. Our concert Serenade to Music was a celebration of music and included a range of contemplative, uplifting and majestic works by Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Parry, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Stanford.

We celebrated music and harmony with pieces that explore the inspiring nature of music and song from composers across the centuries. Our concert included performances of Ave verum, Mozart and My heart is inditing by Handel. We sang Mendelssohn’s How lovely are the Messengers together with Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, including pieces by Stanford and Britten (Hymn to St Cecilia) and concluding with the stirring Blest Pair of Sirens by Parry. These included settings of words drawn from the Bible, as well as verses by Shakespeare, Milton and Auden, all exploring and celebrating music in its many uplifting guises.

Director of Music Robin Walker conducted and Ian Shaw will joined us on the organ.