A Choir Unwrapped – From the Tenor section

Hertfordshire Chorus Neverlight Recording

A Choir Unwrapped – from the tenor section

 

Good choral tenors are worth their weight in gold. They are a rare breed and often sing with several choirs who need their talents.

Hertfordshire Chorus has been lucky enough to attract some of the best amateur tenors available, both male and female. They come to us for a number of reasons – quality of the singing, variety of concert programmes, great venues and a regular rehearsal schedule.

Quality of the singing experience

Hertfordshire Chorus Tenor Simon Stock explains in this film

 

The audition process really helps maintain quality and the singers appreciate the benefits this brings. Hertfordshire Chorus is also fortunate to have Charles Andrews as their regular accompanist. It is important to have someone who understands what a choir needs during rehearsal. His skill allows the choir to learn fast and reach new levels of performance.

Variety of repertoire and great venues

Hertfordshire_Chorus_Tenor_Phil_Evans

Hertfordshire Chorus Tenor Phil Evans explains in this film

 

Hertfordshire Chorus sings a very wide range of music in a great selection of venues. In the last five years the Chorus has performed at The Sage in Gateshead, The Albert Hall, King’s Place, St John’s Smith Square and The Barbican. We are regulars at St Alban’s Cathedral.

Tenors are an important part of the fabric of any piece. The Hertfordshire Chorus team loves the challenges the music throws them. The tenor line often carries the melody and it is important to have a solid team who are up to the mark. The classical and modern works Hertfordshire Chorus performs are wide-ranging – the tenors get a good work out.

Hertfordshire Chorus singers get around! This includes recordings of commissions, providing backing for world-renowned artists like Ray Davies and Noel Gallagher. We also perform regularly at the Rochester Castle Proms and have provided ethereal sounds for rock and thrash metal bands. The choir has a regular wedding choir that contributes to choir funds as well as providing a view of the latest in matrimonial fashions.  Courtesy of Debbie Ram photography

The musical philosophy

Hertfordshire Chorus has a world class Musical Director in David Temple MBE. The seasonal programmes he creates are designed to be exciting for singers as well as for the audience. He has commissioned major new works such as Codebreaker by James McCarthy and Ode to a Nightingale by Will Todd. This enthusiasm for new challenges ensures that Hertfordshire Chorus stays at the top of the choral tree.

David has a special connection to the tenors. ‘Singing in a top class choir is an amazing experience – but singing tenor is even more special.  I am biased as I am one!

Come and join us!

If you have a good tenor voice, have reasonable sight reading skills and want to be part of an exciting and dynamic choir then come and try us out. Main rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings between 7:30pm and 10:00pm. There are additional all day workshops and rehearsals depending on the current programme. Follow the link to find out how easy it is to become a member of our team.

 

 

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David Temple awarded MBE

David Temple Awarded MBE

David Temple, Music Director of Hertfordshire Chorus, has been awarded an MBE for services to music in the New Year’s Honours list. On hearing of the award David said “I am both proud and thrilled to receive this award – and I would like to dedicate it to all who have supported me throughout my career both on the concert platform and behind the scenes.”

David Temple is one of the country’s foremost choral conductors, who founded and continues to direct Crouch End Festival Chorus. Musical Director of Hertfordshire Chorus since 2000, he has been instrumental in developing the choir to a consistently high standard of performance. His enthusiasm for commissioning new choral music and supporting young composers has resulted in some of the best new choral music of recent years. Two notable composers include Will Todd and James McCarthy. David and Hertfordshire Chorus commissioned Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, one of the most successful new large choral works in recent history, performed more than 300 times. Recent commissions with the chorus are James McCarthy’s Codebreaker and Will Todd’s Ode to a Nightingale, released on Signum Classics label in October and launched at St Albans Cathedral, to wide critical acclaim. Will Todd recently wrote “I am truly grateful for David Temple’s part in developing my expressive language”

David is also passionate about bringing the joy of choral singing and the excitement of performing in large venues to the community. The choir performs regularly in major venues like the Barbican and if possible David is passionate about introducing young voices to choral singing and so he has encouraged composers to include parts for them in new works.  Bishop’s Hatfield School joined the chorus at the Barbican in November as part of the London Jazz Festival, singing the most recent commission, Rio Amazonas, by Roland Perrin. Presdales School premiered the piece at Saffron Hall. St Albans School, mid-Herts Youth Choir and Cantate Youth Choir have also sung with Hertfordshire Chorus.

In a recent enthusiastic review by Malcolm Riley in Gramophone Magazine David Temple was described as ‘indefatigable’.  David Temple truly deserves this honour.

Janet Cameron, Chair of Hertfordshire Chorus said “We congratulate David on receiving the MBE. It is well deserved and a tribute to his considerable contribution to the success of the chorus as well as to the wider community. We are extremely proud to have him as our Musical Director and look forward to an exciting 2018 and beyond.

David next conducts Hertfordshire Chorus on Saturday February 17th at St Albans Cathedral. If you can’t wait that long, he will be taking an open rehearsal on Saturday 13th January at Onslow St Audrey School, Hatfield. 

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A Choir Unwrapped – From the Bass Section

A Choir Unwrapped – From the Bass Section

To sing bass with a top ranking choir requires a good voice, a loyal heart and a sense of humour.

The Hertfordshire Chorus bass section has a deep, rich sound and an enthusiasm for the wide-ranging and challenging repertoire the choir is called on to perform. Team work is paramount and this section sticks together even when the going is tough.

Hertfordshire Chorus singing at the BBC Proms

Basses In the Royal Albert Hall

David Temple MBE, the Chorus’s musical director, has a keen ear and a passion for excellence. This inspires all voice sections to ensure they are constantly improving. There are no passengers here.

Rehearsals are fun but no easy ride. David is meticulous and demands the best from all. At the beginning of the evening, after a full day’s work, most singers feel a little sluggish. They are fired up and exhilarated, however, by the end of the rehearsal – the perfect state of mind for a debrief in the pub.

Choral Quality

Entry to the Chorus is by individual audition, and everyone is re-auditioned every three years. It may feel intimidating but auditions are handled supportively and sensitively and all Chorus members are agreed that maintaining quality is vital.

That quality has enabled the Chorus to perform at the best venues, such as The BarbicanThe Royal Festival HallSt Albans Abbey and St John’s Smith Square. We continue to work with world-class orchestras and soloists and commission new music from talented modern composers such as Will Todd, James McCarthy and Roland Perrin.

Colin Blankfield, a bass who has sung with the choir for over 30 years, is very clear on the benefits.

‘I also sing with a chamber choir which is great but love singing the really big works too. Hertfordshire Chorus gives me the chance to perform these to a very high standard.’

Outreach

We have recorded several of our commissions and more traditional repertoire. These releases have attracted high praise from renowned critics and organisations.

Singing with the Chorus is a great way to support your community. We often work with local schools, from primary age to teenagers. This gives the students an opportunity to participate in a large-scale concert and get a taste for performing to a high standard.

The Chorus supports many charitable events – putting on concerts and raising funds.  We sing for The Willow Foundation every Christmas which is very popular.

Hertfordshire-Chorus-Willow-10k-October-2017

Singers running for Willow

Fitting Singing In

Singing with the Chorus is a commitment but there are so many benefits for health and well-being. Bass Julian Edwards, says ‘My wife tells me I’m a lot happier since I joined Hertfordshire Chorus’

Dr Paul Baker,  juggles work, family and playing cello with a local orchestra but knows the Chorus is worth the effort.  ‘We are a very good section and fortunate to have the opportunity to sing with such a wonderful choir without having to travel into London. Hertfordshire Chorus is really on a par with the best in the country.’

Social Life

In addition the social life is great. Chorus members are welcoming and supportive and lifetime friendships are common.

Steve Williams joined in 2003 to sing Mahler 8. ‘I enjoyed it so much I’m still here. After 45 years of choral singing I can honestly say that Hertfordshire Chorus is the best’

The Chorus is always looking for talent and encourages singers to try us out. If you sing with a chamber choir, another large chorus or have not sung for a while please get in touch. Main rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings between 7:30pm and 10:00pm. There are additional all day workshops and rehearsals depending on the current programme. Follow the link to find out how easy it is to try us out.

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Codebreaker and Ode to a Nightingale CD launch October 6th

Hertfordshire-Chorus-Codebreaker-and-Ode-to-a-Nightingale-CD-cover

Critical Success for our CD

We were absolutely delighted that our CD reached number 7 in the Specialist Classical Charts in the first week of sales and equally delighted with this fantastic review in Gramophone “This important release should be in every keen choral singer’s Christmas stocking.” Read the whole review . Gramophone Review. In addition to Gramophone, we had a wonderful review by Rob Cowan in Classical Ear. Read it here Classical Ear

The story

In 2009 we commissioned Will Todd, who wrote the highly successful Mass in Blue for us, to write a setting for Ode to a Nightingale for one of our Patrons, Rod Jones. We launched it in the Barbican in 2011 and sang it again a few years later because we loved the luscious writing. In 2011 we commissioned James McCarthy, who David Temple and Crouch End Festival Chorus had commissioned the powerful oratorio 17 Days, to write about the life of Alan Turing.  We launched the resulting piece  Codebreaker in 2012 and sang it again in 2015, both times in the Barbican.

We felt both pieces deserved to be better known and several of our members raised the funds to make a high quality recording. Moving on, in June 2016 we gathered at the Watford Colosseum with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Producer Nigel Short, Conductor of Tenebrae, and of course our Music Director David Temple to make the recordings. We were delighted to have the support of Signum Records who agreed to publish the music in 2017.

Roll forward to the launch in October 2017. To celebrate, we sang both pieces at St Albans Cathedral on the 7th October to a standing ovation. To add to the celebration we shared the stage with American choirs, Nashville in Harmony and One Voice Chorus of Charlotte and St Albans School Chamber Choir. Nashville in Harmony and One Voice discovered Codebreaker and were so moved by it that they performed it several times earlier this year.

You can buy it from Presto ClassicalHyperion Records, Amazon and Apple Music or stream on Spotify

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Open Rehearsal 13th September 2017

In June 2016 we recorded two of our recent commissions, Codebreaker by James McCarthy and Ode to a Nightingale by Will Todd, with the BBC Concert Orchestra, produced by Nigel Short and published by Signum Records. We’ll be launching the CD at our concert on the 7th October and are inviting experienced singers to join us on 13th September for the second rehearsal of these two fabulous and accessible pieces.

OR 13th September front

OR 13th September 2017 back

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Hertfordshire Chorus adds to Michael Hurd discography

How this recording came about

Another new experience for Hertfordshire Chorus. The British Music Society approached us about recording five works by British composer Michael Hurd.  Michael Hurd died in 2006, aged 77 after 50 years composing a wide variety of music.  The BMS established a charitable trust to administer a legacy from his estate, with the aim of fostering and encouraging recordings and performances of his music. He is perhaps best known for his Jonah Man Jazz, sung by countless schoolchildren over the years.

Hertfordshire Chorus record Michael Hurd at Art Judes ChurchHertfordshire Chorus record Michael Hurd at St Judes Church

Asked to not only record the five compositions, we were also to project manage the recording! No small task.

Organising the project

Music Director David Temple and Operations Director Robin Seaman set about organising the long list of things that had to be done.  St Jude’s Church in Hampstead is well known for its acoustic and is often used as a recording venue. We approached the London Orchestra da Camera, a regular concert partner. Place and orchestra sorted. Next task was to find a soloist for one of the pieces and we were very pleased to discover mezzo-soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons.  All coming together – now we had to find a producer and recording engineer and turned to Gareth Williams, with whom we have worked a number of times. Finding the people and venue was only half the task, since we also had to find dates when all were available. No easy task when everybody’s diaries were so full. And don’t forget our own singers and their availability!  We already knew that the recording is to be released on the Lyrita Recorded Edition label, so liaising with them is for later.

David Temple conducting and Gareth Williams producing recording Michael Hurd's music06-06-17 Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Gareth Williams

A complex thing to organise and the recording dates seemed to be upon us very quickly.  So on a rainy morning on the 20th May  the choir, orchestra, conductor and recording crew gathered at the church.  A second full recording day was held on the 3rd June when our soloist joined us.  The church needed to be set-up early in the morning on each day and then, recording finished, everything had to be cleared away, equipment packed in the van and the church returned to its primary function as a place of worship ready for the services the next day.

 

So what did we record?

 

  • A Choral Cantata – words from Psalm 150 and from Richard Edwards and Tate & Brady, written in 1991 commissioned by the Southport Bach Society (now Choir) and first performed on 22 June 1991.
  • Music’s Praise – setting words from Alexander Pope, William Strode, William Shakespeare and Robert Herrick, commissioned by the Stroud Festival and first performed by the Festival Choir with Orchestra da Camera on 30 October 1968.
  • The Phoenix and the Turtle – setting words by William Shakespeare, commissioned by the Canterbury Singers and first performed on 6 June 1974 in the Chapter House Canterbury Cathedral.
  • A Song for St Cecilia – setting words by John Dryden, written for performance at the Havant and District Schools’ Music Festival in 1967.
  • This Day to Man – six hymns for the Nativity, commissioned by the Chichester Singers and first performed on 14 December 1974.

 

They were two long and tiring days of recording. Occasional interruptions included emergency vehicle’s sirens and  aeroplanes passing overhead.  A couple of the minor inconveniences of non-studio recording, especially in London!  But the experience was utterly rewarding.  We discovered some gems, really lovely music that was a joy to sing.

03-06-17 HC Folder and Vocal Score

Recording over, we go back to our other work, sad to leave this music behind for the time being. We do hope that Michael Hurd’s choral music will be rediscovered through this and other recordings. We plan to do our bit by scheduling a special concert in 2018 which will feature some of the pieces. This will coincide with the launch of the CD. Watch this space for details when we have them.

 

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Neverlight Album Released

Nova Red 4Neverlight launched Nova Red on the 23rd June and it sounds fantastic. Amanda Farrell has a powerful rich voice and if you like metal then this should be on your shopping list!

Neverlight describe themselves and Nova Red

“Amanda and Josh Farrell formed Neverlight in 2013 in an effort to share their journey with cancer and perhaps to provide a touchstone for others as they travel their own paths.

Nova Red is a literary rollercoaster ride of dark progressive metal, and it is a distilled culmination of their journey thus far.  Feel the frustration, the anger, the loneliness, and the painful goodbye, the lust, the joy, the temptation and the final triumph”.

Buy the album

Buy the album on iTunes or Amazon here https://www.amazon.com/Nova-Red-Neverlight/dp/B071XDTGGN. Purchasing through Amazon triggers a small fee to Hertfordshire Chorus.

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Codebreaker performed in America

Commissioning music is always a risk. We are fortunate that our Musical Director David Temple is passionate about supporting young composers and bringing new large-scale choral music to the choral community. Sometimes the music is never performed again and sometimes it goes on to be a great success. We have also been fortunate to have had two successful commissions, picked up and performed by others choirs.

Imagine our delight to hear that our latest commission Codebreaker, by James McCarthy,  was performed on the 2nd April in Charlotte, North Carolina and will be performed again on the 22nd and 23rd April in Nashville Tennesse. Codebreaker forms the central piece in a collaboration between Nashville in Harmony Nashville in Harmony and One Voice Chorus , called Mapping Stars.

Codebreaker forms the centrepiece of Mapping Stars

Codebreaker is an oratorio for choir and orchestra about the life and loves of Alan Turing, often regarded as the father of computer science and credited with shortening  the Second World War by two years through breaking the German Enigma code. Alan Turing was convicted of Gross Indecency in 1951 and sentenced to chemical castration. He committed suicide in 1953. The oratorio was inspired by the public apology on 10th September 2009 delivered by Gordon Brown on behalf of the government.  Codebreaker’s premiere was on 26th April 2014 in The Barbican with Benedict Cumberbatch, who was about to appear as Alan Turing in the film Codebreaker, in the audience.

See this film of Nashville in Harmony and One Voice Chorus with Intersection Orchestra at their performance in Charlotte.

 

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In the metal- recording backing for Neverlight

Hertfordshire Chorus Neverlight Recording

On Sunday 19th February we were back in the recording studio, very excited to be involved in an unusual project. Neverlight, a gothic experimental band from Colorado, approached us to sing backing vocals for a few of the tracks on their forthcoming album.  All we needed to do was to find a recording studio and gather 40 singers. We had a great time and were delighted to hear how pleased the band were. Here’s a quote, ” The Hertfordshire Chorus was amazing to work with, and the final result is breathtaking!”

Time-zone differences meant that the band could not join us as we sang but they were able to join us via Skype before the end.

Check out the band’s website

http://www.neverlightband.com

The album is due to be released in June 2017.

 

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The Kingdom “First Class” performance

Performers put their heart and souls into the best show they can and reading reviews is always carried out with a little trepidation, so how wonderful it was to read John Manning’s review of our performance of Elgar’s The Kingdom in the Herts Advertiser.  You can read it too here.

David Temple, Music Director, wrote in the programme “I am fortunate enough to conduct many of the greatest choral works ever written. In my partnership with the choir we work so hard to make sure each piece is the best we have ever done. Occasionally a work like Elgar’s The Kingdom comes along which resonates with us so wonderfully – the music itself, the story, the intensity – hopefully to produce a performance out of the ordinary. When we performed this last in 2010, it was one of the most profound experiences of my life and what has encouraged me about our preparations for 2017 is to discover details and nuances in the score which I failed to notice last time””

Read a review of our 2010 concert, written by Martin Bird of The Elgar Society here

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