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

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

The Kingdom “First Class” performance

Hets-Chorus-Men-Saffron-Hall

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

Open Rehearsal Wednesday 8 February 2017

Hertfordshire Chorus Open Rehearsal February 2017

Come and join our first rehearsal of Rachmaninov Vespers and you could be singing with us in St John Smith Square in April, a “must sing” for basses.

Download the full flyer with all details here.

Find out more about what it’s like to sing with us in our recruitment leaflet here.

Alternatively find out more by sending an email to membership@hertfordshirechorus.org.uk or by phoning 01462 491647.

Explore French Romantic Music – Choral Workshop

hertfordshire-chorus-vocal-workshop-january-2017-web2

Hertfordshire Chorus is delighted to announce a vocal workshop led by Neil Ferris on Saturday 14 January 2017, 10am – 4:30pm. This workshop promises to be stimulating and enjoyable day that will appeal to experienced choral singers. Its theme will be French music from the Romantic period, with motets by Duruflé, Debussy, Saint-Saëns and parts of Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir.

Download the flier and Read more about it here

Book your place now to avoid disappointment

Tickets: £20, students (18 or over) in further education £10

Tickets are available either from Hertfordshire Chorus members or online at http://ticketsource.co.uk/hertfordshirechorus or by phone on 07482 953 092 (24 hour voicemail)

 

 

Hertfordshire Chorus Sing at the Royal Academy

Hertfordshire Chorus at The Royal Academy for Chesterton's

We were delighted to support Chesterton’s annual fundraiser at the Royal Academy in June. Twenty five members sang in a variety of rooms and locations at this prestigious venue, to add atmosphere to guests’ experience.

Hertfordshire Chorus record Codebreaker and Ode to a Nightingale

recording_with_bbc_concert_orchestra

Hertfordshire Chorus record Codebreaker and Ode to a Nightingale

In June we were thrilled to find ourselves realising a long-held ambition to record two of our recent commissions, James McCarthy’s Codebreaker and Will Todd’s Ode to a Nightingale. Following months of hard fundraising, the whole choir gathered at Watford Colosseum with the BBC Concert Orchestra, producer Nigel Short (founder of Tenebrae), David Temple conducting and of course James and Will.

The finished version will be released in October 2017 on Signum Records and launched at a concert in St Albans Cathedral. We owe a great deal to Signum records and the BBC Concert Orchestra for supporting us in this venture.

 

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