about gigs, workshops. choirs and more...
Saturday 20 April 2024 at 7:30pm
Moira Craig and Carolyn Robson in a gig at the Holybourne Theatre in Alton. Their partnership has been described as “the most inordinately fine singing you’re likely to hear”.
Carolyn Robson writes about a busy first week of July when her four Hampshire-based choirs performed five concerts in the county. The songs performed by these choirs were diverse in terms of genre, their subject matter and the century in which they were composed.
Each of the concerts was a charity fundraiser and our generous audiences gave more than £3,000 in the retiring collections that have become an end-of-concert feature of these events. The donations benefitted local food banks, a refugee support group, Action Aid, Muscular Dystrophy UK, the county’s Air Ambulance and Home Start groups.
In Alton, the choir gave a tremendous performance of the bluesey When I Walk Down the Street in a lively arrangement by Dom Stichbury. Dom performs with Oaken, an acappella quartet that includes my daughter, Anna Tabbush.
Winchester included Drop, Drop Slow Tears in its programme, a lovely anthem by the 17th century composer Orlando Gibbons. It so happens that Orlando’s son was appointed organist at Winchester Cathedral in 1638. Alas, he was out of a job when Parliamentary soldiers ran amok and destroyed the organ one December evening in 1642. We had a slightly less riotous evening.
Petersfield’s concert began with songs in praise of spring and summer, and moved on to songs from the USA to celebrate Independence Day, including a moving arrangement of Shenandoah by Sarah Morgan. The venue was packed, and the rafters raised.
TakeNOTE chamber choir performed the spiritual Down in the River to Pray in Petersfield and Romsey. A thousand years before our concert in Romsey Abbey, Saint Æthelflæda used to bathe and pray in the nearby River Test. We didn't follow her example.
Pipers, singers and rain
Carolyn reports on an open-air concert in Winchester with TakeNOTE Chamber Choir and The Hyde Pipers.
A word or two about performing alfresco In the UK.
It rains. And yet a determined audience of about 100 people (not counting damp dogs), turned up in the drizzle at Wolvesey Castle on a Sunday lunchtime in September. Unfortunately, the Old Bishop's Palace is one of those English Heritage sites without a roof.
The choir didn't mind getting wet, but The Hyde Pipers were anxious about the effect of rain on their Northumbrian smallpipes. This is one instance when water and pipes do not go together. Audience and choir to the rescue with brollies, as you can see in this picky from one of our audience members (Liz Tennent).
Spot the dog
I started by saying we had a determined audience. It takes spirit to turn out in the rain and we’re so grateful to those of you who were able to get to the concert.
Spirit? Perhaps an element of bloody-mindedness, too. It said, ‘Bring a picnic’ on the poster and that’s what many of them did. Nothing better than cucumber sandwiches in the rain, under a brolly, as this image from English Heritage photographer, Richard Malec, shows.
We raised £600 from donations after the concert which we divided between our two charities, English Heritage and Winchester Basics Bank. We are very grateful to the audience whose enthusiasm, and willingness to watch us outdoors in the rain, was something we all valued very much, and which our charities will benefit from.
Christmas is coming
December will be busy with concerts to celebrate the season. Here's a roundup of my choirs' calendar.
I'm directing TakeNOTE Chamber Choir in Yule - a celebration of Christmas. We're in Winchester on 8th December and in Alton on 11th December. The Church of St Lawrence in The Square is our historic Winchester venue. And The Hyde Pipers join us for the Alton gig in The Holybourn Theatre. Click MORE to go to the Box office with details of both concerts.
Winchester Community Choir is not anticipating arctic conditions, but the poster snowman was irresistible as the mascot for our mid-winter concert on Tuesday 5 December. Fear not, The United Church is a warm and inviting venue, and you’re very welcome to join us.
Mind you, it is December, so dress up warm. It might be brrrrrrr......
Alton Community Choir's Christmas Concert is on Thursday 7 December.
Tickets £10, including refreshments, available on the door or phone 07843 273483 or 07798 641427
Petersfield Community Choir has its festive concert on Wednesday 6 December.