The Cantate Choir performed a sparking celebration of Christmas in December at St. Nicholas Church, Sevenoaks. We were very fortunate to be joined by Matilda Lloyd, the wonderfully talented trumpeter who won the brass section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2014, and whose solo pieces by Bach and Damase were very much enjoyed by the audience. The choir, under guest conductor Riccardo Bonci, performed a variety of Christmas carols, including some new ones to us – by Maxwell Davies, Wishart, Matthias and Howells. Of course there were plenty of audience carols too and Matilda joined in playing from the gallery and Iestyn Evans joined us on the organ. The evening included rousing renditions of popluar favourites The Twelve Days of Christmas and Jingle Bells, with We Wish You a Merry Christmas as a spirited encore.
The Cantate Choir were delighted to have been invited to take part in a special multi-choir concert at the Rye Festival in September. Three choirs came together to collaborate on an evening concert in St. Mary’s Rye. Each choir presented a short programme and we were very pleased to perform again some music from our summer concert – a piece by Frederick Frahm, Who is Wise Among You and the piece Huw Morgan dedicated to Robin Walker and Cantate Choir: Ave Regina Caelorum.
We then joined with the other choirs to form one very large chamber choir. Together we performed multi-part music, working up from Lotti’s beautiful 8-part Crucifixus to the breath-taking 16-part Crucifixus by Caldara and climaxing with Tallis’ 40-part masterpiece Spem in Alium.
We are thrilled to have been asked to take part alongside The Straight 8 and Tongswood Chamber Choir and the full choir was conducted by the internationally acclaimed Peter Phillips, founder of the Tallis Scholars. The organisers in Rye treated us exceptionally well and we had a lovely day.
It was a beautiful Autumnal weather and you can see members of the choir enjoying a few moments of rest over the view of Romney Marsh.
We enjoyed performing Vivaldi’s Gloria in May 2016. Written in around 1715 it is a joyous, sparkling piece for choir and soloists and it is always a great pleasure to perform.
But also, every excitingly, and building on our tradition of presenting new music, we also performed a selection of pieces from Firehead Editions. This is a collective of three contemporary composers: Frederick Frahm, Huw Morgan and Nicholas Wibberley. They have written music for a wide variety of different contexts and are all distinguished composers, conductors and performers. We sang a range of different pieces by them including Frederick Frahm’s Who is Wise Among You and the premiere of a piece especially written for us by Huw Morgan, Ave Regina Caelorum, dedicated to Robin Walker and Cantate Choir. We really enjoyed working on this new material and were delighted to perform our very own piece. All the composers attended the concert as part of a weekend of performances of music from their label.
The Cantate Choir’s recent performance of Handel’s Messiah raised a fantastic £10,500, exceeding our original target. The money raised went to Hospice in the Weald and we were delighted to be able to support them with our first charity concert. We weren’t sure if we would manage to fill the Pamoja Hall in Sevenoaks School but it was a sell out!
We had a fantastic time performing with our regular partner orchestra ‘Vivace!’ and the wonderful soloists. For more details of the concert follow this link: http://www.cantate-choir.info/gala-concert-handels-messiah/
We would like to thank our sponsors and advertisers who helped us with the fundraising and to everyone who donated prizes for the charity raffle. And of course, thank you to all those who came and were such a great audience for us.
It was a thrilling evening – We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
For a link to a review of the concert follow the link: http://www.cantate-choir.info/review-of-handels-messiah-by-graeme-fife/
Cantate Choir visit Rochester Cathedral.
For the weekend of October 24th-25th we were privileged to be the visiting choir at Rochester Cathedral singing the services on Saturday and Sunday. This was a wonderful opportunity for us to sing church music in this beautiful, historical setting, joining a tradition of music for worship that has been continuous since 604AD.
We prepared a fantastic series of pieces spanning the centuries of the finest church music from Ramsay, Purcell and Ayleward to Stanford, Howells and Harris and up to the modern day with the Missa Brevis by Dove. From rehearsing in the music rooms in one of the towers to sharing a lunch together at Pizza Express as well as becoming, for a short while, part of the life of the cathedral, the whole weekend was very enjoyable. We were delighted to receive so many compliments for our singing from the congregation. It was particularly special to hear the music in the beautiful acoustic of the cathedral and we hope to return to perform in this glorious space some time in the future.
In May Cantate went on a choir tour to Norway to perform at concerts in various locations, renewing friends with Forde Kammerchor who visited the UK a few years ago and performed with Cantate in Otford. The choir first sang in Bergen Cathedral, joined by GNEIS, a young talented local choir. Then taking the trip up the coast the choir visited to Forde. The Forde Kammerchor were wonderful hosts for our visit and everyone enjoyed a convivial evening in a traditional barn where we all rehearsed ready for a concert at Forde Art Gallery. You will see some photos of the choir on the trip, including the one where the two choirs performed the Tapsrondo together!
Pining for the Fijords was our June concert. It was a lovely opportunity to sing the music prepared for the Norway tour to our audience at home. It also meant those choir members who were unable to go to Norway were able to perform some of the special Norwegian-flavoured repertoire that the choir had worked on; while for those who did go it was a chance to remember the unique atmosphere of light and water of Norway in summer, and think of the friends they made there.
So on a lovely, sunny summer’s evening we returned to Brasted to sing music from across the ages. We sang madrigals in the open while the audience enjoyed strawberries and a glass of sparkling wine, then moved inside to perform Monteverdi Beatus Vir along with English music from composers such as Stanford and Vaughan Williams, Norwegian songs by Grieg as well as traditional and modern settings of Scandinavian folksongs.
As winners of Top Kent Choir, 2014, we performed at a special celebration in March to mark five years of this competition which does so much to raise money for charity. We joined six other choirs, all past finalists or runners up, each performing a 15 minute repertoire in the Shirley Hall in Canterbury. We included a clapping song too – which you can see us performing below. The evening culminated in a special performance by all the choirs and audience together of a special arrangement of ‘Help’ – the song by the Beatles – to mark its fiftieth anniversary. The whole event celebrated live music and singing, and we were delighted to be able to take part.
(photos copyright John Gichigi and The Rotary Club of Canterbury).
We were delighted to welcome so many people to our Christmas concert last Saturday at St. Nicholas Sevenoaks. We had a uplifting evening singing carols from across the ages, from There is No Rose to a beautiful arrangement of My Heart Will Always Wander by the modern Norwegian composer Magnussen in its first UK performance. There were readings inspired by the Christmas story and some fantastic original accompaniments from the brass quintet Mardi Brass. They also played a lovely, measured arrangement of the Symphony from the Messiah and a spirited and witty medley of more modern Christmas songs. With audience carols and the rousing backdrop of the organ played by Riccardo Bonci we hope our audience had as enjoyable evening as we did.
On Tuesday before our concert we sang carols at Sevenoaks Station for the Red Cross Ebola appeal. We thank our friends and family who helped us with the collection as we sang. We raised over £350. We continued our collection after the concert itself and were able to contribute in total to the fund just over £1000 which was a fantastic achievement. Thank you to everyone for your support.
In the photos below, you can see us rehearsing ready for our concert in October at the Canterbury Festival. We had a great time performing in the exotic Spiegeltent – a marquee set up at the Kent Cricket ground providing a very interesting, though at times challenging, venue for our concert.
With a setting feeling like something out of the Manet painting, Bar at the Folies-Begere, or maybe a Viennese Kafehaus, the glass and mirrors together with the burgundy awnings made the place very atmospheric, but, as might be expected, the acoustic was difficult.
However the concert was very well received and we enjoyed performing a range of different music, building on our winning programme for the Top Choir Kent finals which included Gabrieli’s Jubilate Deo and Over the Rainbow. To these we added some madrigals and folk songs and drew on favourites from our wide ranging repertoire including Standford and Bruckner as well as jazz songs like Tea for Two. All in all a memorable occasion. Our thanks go to all those who made the trek to Canterbury to support us!
We are currently rehearsing for our next concert on the 25th October at 11 am at the Spiegeltent as part of the Canterbury Festival, Following the choir’s success at the Top Choir Kent competition last year we are honoured to be performing at the festival this year. Our one hour programme will feature some of our favourite folk songs, madrigals, classics and jazz pieces.
Why not start your weekend with us and make a day of it at the festival, there is plenty going on throughout the day: Accompanied walks (these are popular so worth booking now), comedy performance by Simon Evans, an evening concert by acclaimed choral group ‘Voces 8’ in Canterbury cathedral, performance artists Finding the Silence and much more. Check out canterburyfestival.co.uk for details of programme and box office.
The Spiegeltent is a unique location – part baroque ballroom part exotic marquee – fantastic for an intimate and exciting concert . The Spitfire ground is a 2 minute drive or 10 minute walk from the centre of town, postcode CT1 3NZ . Tickets are only £5 from the festival box office and will be available on the door. It would be great to see some familiar faces in the audience, you will not be disappointed.
The Cantate Choir performed at the finals of Top Choir Kent in Canterbury last night – 12th April 2014. We had a fantastic time, enjoying the music from all the other wonderful and high quality competitors, and from the guests for the evening – the P&O choir – winners of the BBC programme Sing While you Work. Music ranged from William Byrd to Coldplay, with many different styles and moods in between, and we were impressed by how smoothly the whole event went, providing as it did a great opportunity to raise money for charity.
Our own performances of Gabrieli, Somewhere over the Rainbow and Bobby Shaftoe we felt went well – a ‘demanding’ repertoire was the comment from the judges but, as they said, we were fully up to doing it justice.
Then that heart-stopping moment as they announced we were the winners! We were able to provide the grand finale with one last ringing rendition of Jubilate Deo.
We now will have the opportunity to perform as part of the Canterbury Festival in the Autumn and as part of the BBC Radio Kent Carol service at Rochester Cathedral.
If you weren’t able to make it or if you would like to relive the whole experience you can tune into BBC Radio Kent at 6 on Easter Morning (or follow up on iplayer for the following seven days at a more leisurely time!)
Photos taken at the Final of Top Choir Kent 2014. © Guy Gardener and the Rotary Club of Canterbury (all apart from trophy and certificate photo)
On Saturday March 22nd we performed our concert Spem in Alium. This turned out to be record breaking concert – the audience was the largest we have ever had, attracted no doubt by the wonderful music of Thomas Tallis as well as by His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts with whom we collaborated to bring this concert together.
The box office success was not the only record: for the first time we performed in 40 parts; to do this we invited additional friends to come along and augment our choir for the performance of Spem in Alium and His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts also took some of the parts – a common feature of Renaissance performance as the Cornett, a wooden wind instrument, was held to be the closest in sound to the human voice.
The rest of the programme provided a wonderful range of music from the Southern and Northern Renaissance with pieces of great poignancy combined with those of joyous celebration. Our conductor Robin Walker, as always, designed a varied and exciting programme, combining well-loved pieces with those less well-known – helping us to discover beautiful new repertoire.
His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts played a series of pieces that displayed the subtlety and range of their instruments to great effect, from fantastically rich chromatic music to with lively dances and stately suites. This leads us to yet another record as one of the pieces was a newly edited work by Guami – and quite possibly had not been performed in public for at least 400 years before our concert!
Audience members commented on the thrilling range of music as well as the quality of the performances while the Spem in Alium mesmerised many. It was remarked that having the choir ranged round in a huge arc meant that the experience was entirely different from hearing a recording and the resulting surround sound was tremendous. We too were blown away by the standing ovation at the end!
Thank you especially to our friend Her Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts. We had a wonderful time with them.
We are through to the Top Choir Kent 2014 finals! Our CD submission was reviewed and we are now through to join five other choirs from across Kent at the final which takes place in Canterbury in April. The event is run by the Canterbury Rotary Club and supported by Belmont Insurance, BBC Radio Kent and the Canterbury Festival. All finalists will have their CD performances played on BBC Radio Kent and opportunities for the winners to take part in a some exciting choral events. Top Choir Kent raises money to support various charities and last year was able to make donations totalling over £7000.
Tickets to attend the final performances sell fast, so get on to them straight away! Tickets now available to buy via the website. http://www.topchoirkent.org/ where you’ll find lots more information about the event.