Conductor's Blog - 2015-16 Season

Like all small choirs we have to work really hard to get good audiences for our concerts: whatever the date we choose, there is always a lot of competition! We try out new ideas such as performing at venues outside Horsham to attract new audience members, changing concert times so we have a ‘Tea’ Concert or, as we are going to do this November, a post-Christmas Shopping Concert complete with warming mulled drink to lift the flagging spirits! More of that in a moment. Most people who come to listen to us come because they are supporting one of the performers, which is why a small choir will have a smaller audience than a large orchestra or big choral society. So, if you are reading this and don’t know any of us, then please fill in the guestbook on the website as we would love to get to know you! As befits a friendly choir such as ours, we always have a social gathering after the concert for choir and audience to chat to each other and would welcome new faces. Our Choir Friends are very important: as well as supporting the singers they help behind the scenes too, so we really appreciate them!


The music we put in our programmes is also a factor in attracting audiences. Getting that balance between what audiences like to listen to and what we like to sing, as well as what we ought to sing in order to develop as a group, is challenging! And then turning it into an attractive programme rather than a random list of pieces…… Well, here are my thoughts about this season’s challenge!


Following on from my comments above, I think the main theme running through this season is a mixture of the well-known with good pieces by composers who ought to be better known than they are. This latter category is very close to my heart as, although I love all good music, the period that I really enjoy is the relatively unknown 17th century. Our concert in June (music by Purcell, Schütz, Charpentier and Monteverdi) explored this age and it was really pleasing to hear comments from choristers and audience who had little or no experience of this music saying how wonderful it was. So, on 28 November in St Mary’s we will be performing Britten’s much-loved A Ceremony of Carols and Adam’s popular O holy night along with Christmas Motets from the 16th century which will be less familiar but are great pieces. Also in the programme are carols by contemporaries of Benjamin Britten – Kenneth Leighton, John Joubert and Patrick Hadley  - and carols by three local composers, including Mark Browse’s beautiful ‘There is no rose’. We will be joined by harpist Heather Wrighton. The Britten was originally written for high voices but we shall be performing the version for SATB. This is a programme with something in it for all tastes and has the luxury of the extra colour of the harp accompaniment (and a solo piece or two). As mentioned above, we are hoping it will also appeal to weary Christmas shoppers. Mulled drinks will be served from 4pm and in the interval and the concert starts at 4.30pm. That means it will be done and dusted by 6.30pm and those who don’t like coming out on a cold winter’s evening can get home in good time for supper and Strictly Come Dancing!


If you would like more carols, then come to our annual Concert of Carols and Readings at Sedgwick Park House on Saturday 19 December. This is a lovely occasion in the wonderfully atmospheric home of Clare and John Davison, complete with log fire and Christmas tree. We perform in their Ballroom and the evening is really a kind of secular carol service, with carols sung by us as well as some for the audience to join in, plus seasonal poems and classic readings topped off with mulled wine and mince pies. It is a very popular event so you will have to book in good time.


There is a chance to hear more of the wonderful 17th century French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier in our concert on 19 March 2016 in St Mary’s. We will be singing motets by him and some of his contemporaries but the main work is from two centuries later – Fauré’s Requiem. Also in the programme is Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine along with motets by Duruflé. The fine St Mary’s organ will be played by Roger Judd, formerly Assistant Organist at St George’s, Windsor.


For our final concert of the season, on 18 June 2016 we move along the Causeway to The Barn for A Night at the Opera. We will explore opera through the ages, from its early days with Monteverdi, through the 17th and 18th centuries in the company of Purcell, Handel and Mozart, plus some classics from more recent times. A licenced bar will help you to get into the mood!


Do come and support us! We are the only Chamber Choir in the area and it is important for the artistic life of the community to have choirs such as us flourishing. We have singers of all ages, including our wonderful student members (we currently have a bass and an alto) who keep the rest of us young! Singing is a great way to keep fit and to be socially active as well. At the moment we need BASSES, so please get in touch if you would like to join us, or help in any other way, such as coming to our concerts.


Jenny Hansell

September 2015

Conductor's blog


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Rehearsals for the 2018-19 season have now started. Please contact us for more information. 


We need Tenors and Basses! See here for more details.


The Choir in rehearsal
The Choir in rehearsal
The chaps
The chaps