Past seasons: 2004-2005 Season
Hot Success in Italy - July 2004 The 2004/2005 season started in grand style (or, more precisely, the previous season finished in grand style) with the choir's highly successful and enjoyable tour of Tuscany. Sixty members, together with partners and friends, left Harrow on 20th July and were based in the elegant spa town of Montecatini Terme, just 20 miles west of Florence. Concerts were given to large and appreciative audiences in the cathedrals at Montecatini and at Volterra, an historic Etruscan hill city. We also sang for a celebration mass in the Collegiate Church in San Gimingnano, a town famous for its medieval towers. The performances were quite demanding both mentally and physically, with concerts not beginning until well after 9.00pm and with temperatures still well into the 80s, but the programme of Dvorak's Mass in D and Howard Blake's Song of St Francis was very rewarding to perform.
The hard work put in by Simon and the whole choir on the Italian text of the Blake piece paid off, with several Italians complimenting us on our pronunciation! The party was able to take in some sight-seeing in Lucca and Florence before returning to Harrow on 25th July.
The tour was a huge boost for the choir both socially and musically, and is typical of the sort of activity that makes membership of Harrow Choral Society such a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Programme for the rest of the Year:
The new season for the choir started officially on 6th September with our first rehearsal, but we had an Open Rehearsal on 27th September to which anyone even vaguely interested in joining the choir, or who just wanted find out what goes on at one of our rehearsals, was invited. .
Saturday 13th November 2004 - Autumn Concert. We performed Stanford's The Revenge and Alastair Stout's Between Blue Mirrors at Trinity Church, Harrow. Stanford's heroic 19th Century piece is based on Tennyson's poem of the same name, dedicated to a 16th century event in the Azores when the eponymous and, as it turned out, ill-fated British ship of the line took on the might of the Spanish Armada in the form of 53 warships. Stirring stuff - pity we lost!! Continuing the sea theme, Between Blue Mirrors (ie the sea and the sky) was a haunting, emotive and challenging piece written by Alastair Stout for the Tall Ships Race in Shetland in 1999. Both the composer and the librettist Jonathan Lennie attended the concert, Alastair having flown over from San Francisco for the event. So no pressure, then!! In fact the supreme effort put in by Simon, Bernard and the whole choir, particularly in the closing few weeks of rehearsal, paid off and the evening went brilliantly. The audience and choir (and composer) enjoyed a splendid buffet supper afterwards - also with a largely nautical theme!
Saturday 11th December 2004 - A Christmas Celebration Once again we returned to the very popular Harrow School Speech Room venue for our "traditional" Christmas Concert. The programme was in fact a mixture of traditional and modern carols and, as usual, proved extremely popular. One of the highlights was the modern and very beautiful This lovely Lady sat and song by Bryan Kelly and, by contrast, another was the fast-moving and surprisingly challenging 16th Century Riu Riu Chiu, performed in the original old Spanish. Our baritone soloist for the evening, Martin Johnson, produced an absolutely first-class performance, both in his solo pieces and when joined by the Choir for The Three Kings by Cornelius and for Vaughan-Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols.
The Reader was the brilliantly versatile Carole Boyd (The Archers' Lynda Snell) who almost literally had the audience rolling in the aisles!
Saturday 30th April 2005 - Joint concert with The Chiltern Choir We had performed previously, and very successfully, with the smaller Chiltern Choir, with whom we have a historic connection - in that our Music Director Simon Williams was also theirs until pressure of other music committments required him to vacate the position. We were looking forward very much to this concert and performed Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis - again by Stanford - together with Brahms' Requiem in the wonderful setting of St Albans Cathedral. Simon conducted the Requiem and Michael Mizgailo-Cayton, conductor of the Chiltern Choir, conducted the Stanford Pieces and there is no doubt at all that this was one of our best ever performances. The Cathedral is always one of the most impressive venues in which to sing or listen to choral music but even so we appeared to "peak" at just the right time and the immense hard work put in by conductors, accompanists and choir members over several months (including the A-Level German course!) paid off magnificently. Our baritone soloist was the very impressive Owen Gilhooly and we were delighted to welcome back Denise Leigh as our soprano - these days a household name since winning Channel 4's Operatunity in 2001. In addition to singing Brahms Requiem with us, Denise also gave a most beautiful rendition of Mozart's Exsultate, Jubilate.
Saturday 9th July 2005 - Summer Concert We performed The Creation by Haydn at Trinity Church, Harrow and we repeated the programme for our highly enjoyable Away-Day to Bournemouth on Saturday 16th July 2005 which turned out to be one of the nicest (or at least one of the the warmest!) days of the year. It was an excellent opportunity for us to sing and socialise - lunch at the Royal Bath Hotel was particularly enjoyable. At the concert itself, Bernard excelled himself with an outstanding accompaniment - this time on the beautiful Bechstein grand piano.