At 8 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday 10th February, a group of bleary-eyed musicians with a collection of violins, violas and ‘cellos set off to Richard Taunton College in Southampton. Upon arriving, we were shown to a (somewhat cold) warm-up room where, for the next 40 minutes, we did some last-minute playing of our pieces before going on stage. The unmistakable sounds of a jazz band echoing through the corridors did help to ease the pre-performance tension. Walking into any concert hall to give a recital, either solo or as an ensemble, is always extremely nerve-wracking – not to mention an unfamiliar venue with an audience of complete strangers including a panel of judges! I’m very proud to be a part of a group that handled it with such professionalism and all our hard work preparing ‘Andante Festivo’ by Jean Sibelius and ‘Sarabande’ by Camille Saint-Saëns paid off. The feedback we received was extremely positive (despite forgetting to introduce ourselves and our pieces) and all the girls should be very pleased with themselves for playing as a ‘real chamber group’. It was also very humbling to see how music had brought together such a diverse group of people, ranging from a choir of disabled teenagers singing a very impressive ‘Queen’ medley to a primary school’s bongo arrangement of ‘Uptown Funk’. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the hard work of our coach, Mr. Parsons! A big thank you also goes out to Mrs. McGuinness who was our Number One Fan for the day.
A Cappella Evensong – Salisbury Cathedral – Wednesday, 2nd April
On the afternoon of 2nd April A Cappella had the opportunity to sing Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral. After an afternoon rehearsal, we were all able to flock to the café for a break before the service itself began at 5.15pm. We sang a wide variety of music, including an excerpt from Victoria’s Lamentations – Sabbto Sancto, the beauty of which had previously been very well received in our January concert, Howells’ wonderful Gloucester Service and Shephard’s Responses – an exciting change from the responses that the choir is used to. The music throughout the service was vibrant and enchanting, adding perfectly to the atmosphere of such an intimate service. The service itself was very inspiring, and it was the perfect opportunity to turn to religion in the beautiful setting of Salisbury Cathedral in the company of others doing the same. Each member of the congregation and choir alike was able to enjoy forty five minutes of worship in the inspiring cathedral, aided by the stunning music that was so attentively sung by A Cappella. The return of some former members of A Cappella was also exciting, as many of the older members of the choir remembered the days that they were there. Also, in order to emphasise the hard work and musicianship of the choir, Mrs Poppleton was approached by the chairman of the magazine ‘Cathedral Music’ – a further outcome of the effort that everyone had put into the service. A great thank you is owed to Mr Fay for playing the organ throughout the service. After a lot of hard work from the entire choir, it was a great honour to contribute to the worship and sing such beautiful music in the stunning setting of Salisbury Cathedral.
Charlotte Bateman 12PJW
Joint Choral Concert – May 3rd 2014 – Salisbury Cathedral – given by SWGS Senior Choir and BWS Choir
Salisbury Cathedral provided an atmospheric setting for our annual Joint Choral Concert with the choirs of South Wilts and Bishop’s collaborating to put on a truly amazing musical evening.
A Cappella began the programme with O Salutaris by A. Caplét and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square by M. Shrewin, both sung beautifully and sensitively. South Wilts Senior Choir then joined them on stage to sing a selection of songs from the girls’ repertoire, including a rousing rendition of a Medley from the musical Les Misérables. All pieces were superbly executed with Libby Poppleton’s conducting and Helen Timperley’s accompanying.
The boys’ choir sang a range of pieces, including Vois sur ton chemin, with Alex Duly on the violin, and the A Level Singers moving rendition of You raise me up arr. B Graham and R.Lovland under the baton of Steve Abbott and to Chris Fay’s sensitive accompaniment.
The second half of the concert was filled with excerpts from G.F. Handel’s Messiah, ranging from the dramatic Surely he hath borne our grief, to the light hearted All we like sheep have gone astray and ending with the glorious Amen chorus, where the final “Amen” of the concert was sung with impressive gusto. Without a doubt, the highlight of the concert was the choir’s incredible and powerful rendition of the Hallelujah chorus; the emotion of this piece was shared by the audience, who shot out of their seats to revel in the splendour of the chorus. The solos from Helena Wynn, Anita Monserrat, Isobel Finlay, Elizabeth Davison, Emma Francis, Charlotte Bateman and Morley Beswick were sung with a maturity and energy that blew the audience away. The combined forces were rewarded by the audience showing their appreciation in a standing ovation at the conclusion of this magnificent evening.
It was a wonderful experience for those singing Messiah for the first time, as well as for those who had performed it many times before.
A huge thank you goes out to all the Music staff of both schools (including MrsSherburn working her magic behind the scenes) and the fantastic orchestra who so generously gave up their time to perform with us and made it a concert to remember.
(Alice Brearey 13JAC)
Guitar Ensemble Concert – May 6th
On Tuesday 6th May the Guitar Group held their annual concert in P1. The guitar group members are: Beth Rothwell, Isobel Finlay, Ellie Fitzgerald, Katie Nicholls, Charley Nicholls and Ella Curry. Also taking part were Georgia Clarke and Annabel Salisbury on vocals. They played ten pieces in total which was followed by one encore.
Special mention should go to Beth as it was her last concert with the group after seven years’ faithful service. She was given her chance to show her guitar skills on 'Wipeout', which she played at top speed and 'Whiskey In The Jar', which has a very challenging lead guitar solo. Isobel Finlay showed she could sing too in 'Hey Mr. Tambourine Man', which is a feat of memorisation as it is a long song. She also played a very good solo in 'Sleepwalk.'
A new type of performance for the guitar group was a vocal trio in "I'll be Back" , a less well known Beatles song. The singers here were Georgia Clarke, Annabel Salisbury and, making her first vocal appearance with the group, Ellie Fitzgerald. Considering they had little chance to practise together before the concert, they gave a creditable performance. Katie Nicholls also made a Guitar Group first by playing ukulele in 'I'm Yours', while her sister Charley gave the group a solid foundation by playing the bass guitar in most of the songs. Ella Curry and Charley Nicholls are the newest group members and played an indispensable part in all of the pieces.
A good time was had by all, and the audience showed their appreciation by giving a generous collection of £105.00 towards an electric guitar for the group.
Next year will be the last year for Georgia and Annabel, as well as Isobel, so we are already looking out for some new singers to join the Guitar Group. Fancy your chances?
Concert at St. Martin’s Church 24th January – Article by Lily Fowler 13B
On Saturday 24th January, the South Wilts A Cappella Choir, directed by Mrs Poppleton, had the wonderful opportunity of singing in St Martin’s Church as part of a delightful evening concert.
The night began with the choir singing a beautifully haunting rendition of Górecki’s ‘Totus Tuus’, with the first chord stunning the audience into awed silence. This was the perfect way to set the tone and standard for what was to come during the rest of the evening. This motet was followed by a contrasting performance of Sibelius’s ‘Andante Festivo’ by the dedicated and highly-skilled SWGS Chamber Orchestra; the players demonstrating their strong talent as string players. Then, the invited orchestra and choir came together to perform Lauridsen’s ‘Lux aeterna’ – an exquisitely harmonised work that, while remaining modern, has many subtle musical references that harked back to the past.
After the interval, the girls of the choir carried on the evening’s Marian theme by singing Holst’s 8-part ‘Ave Maria’ – a challenging unaccompanied piece gloriously executed by the group’s members. This was followed by a similarly Romantic piece from the Chamber Orchestra: ‘Sarabande for Strings in E major’ composed by Saint-Saëns, once again allowing the group to show off their dexterity when it came to these complex ensemble pieces. Finally, to end the evening on a high point, the invited orchestra and choir once again combined to perform Bach’s ‘Magnificat in D major’ – another challenging work that not only allowed the choir and orchestra to shine, but also a number of soloists, all of whom sang incredibly well, adding subtle nuances to the music that made it so enjoyable for all present in the church.
As always with the A Cappella Choir’s concerts, the evening was a joy to behold, due to the combination of fantastic music, dedicated performers and the angelic setting of St Martin’s Church. We would like to thank Mrs Poppleton for being an endlessly enthusiastic and supportive director throughout the preparation for this concert, as well as the invited orchestra for their generosity in terms of time and expertise. Thank you also to all those who have donated towards the A Cappella Trust; your support helped greatly to stage this performance. We would also like to thank all those who contributed to this performance in any way, as all of these people’s skills combined made the evening a great success.
‘Mass in Blue’ – Review by Tegan Eldridge
The A Cappella Concert on Saturday 25th January truly was a wonderful example of the musical talent South Wilts has to offer. Having prepared for months, the members of A Cappella Choir were excited to be able to perform such an engaging and innovative programme, the evening certainly proving to be the musical highlight of the year for many.
The audience was eased into the concert by an exquisite performance of Victoria’s ‘Lamentations – Sabbato Sancto.’ Beautiful lines and purity of sound combined with the stunning setting of St. Martins’ Church created a sensitive performance that was appreciated by all. To follow on, the ebullient style of ‘Verbum caro factum est’ by Hassler provided an excellent contrast and embodied the true capability of the choir.
The Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Parsons, were profound and mature in their approach to Grieg’s ‘Two Elegiac Melodies’, and their expressive performance resonated amongst an appreciative audience. This was followed by several movements of Corelli’s ‘Concerto Grosso Op. 6. No. 4’ – played with a vivacity that sounded fresh off the page.
To add to the wide repertoire for the evening, A Cappella delivered to the audience an elegant performance of Bruckner’s ‘Locus Iste’, the atmospheric splendour of the work echoing around the church. Following this, Rachmaninov’s ‘Bogoroditse Devo’ was captivating and expressive, reinvigorating the calm transience of song prevalent at the beginning of the evening. To continue the journey through musical history, Caplet’s ‘O Salutaris Hostia’ and Skempton’s ‘Adam lay y-bounden’ were both delivered impressively, with as much musical finesse as the pieces that preceded it – a demonstration of the musical talents of A Cappella under the direction of Libby Poppleton.
‘Mass in Blue’ was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening, serving as a true testament to the virtuosic composer Will Todd and his jazz ensemble, including the wonderfully talented soloist, Bethany Halliday.
Despite the complexity, the innovative blend of jazz and blues proved a perfect match to the solid choral writing, creating a compelling and unique piece. This became more consuming as it progressed, with each movement showcasing the work’s soaring melodies, driving rhythms and rich harmonies, creating a captivating allure throughout the church. The remarkable setting of a mass, performed with the assured confidence of all the musicians and singers involved, was a truly splendid experience.
Where silence would usually be expected between movements, the church rang with applause, with a standing ovation succeeding the performances.
The professionalism of Will Todd and his jazz group was unparalleled; fitting effortlessly into a choir that they had never accompanied they still maintained an air of excellence and demonstrated impressive musical flair. Credit must go to Libby Poppleton for once again conducting and creating a successful and highly enjoyable concert, and Helen Timperley also deserves a special mention for her vital role in the months prior to the performance.
Overall it was an incredible evening, and an experience shared that will be remembered by all.
A Cappella Evensong – The Queen’s College, Oxford – 19th October 2013
Last Saturday, South Wilts A Cappella Choir, led by Mrs Poppleton, had the opportunity to sing Evensong in the beautiful Chapel of the Queen’s College, Oxford.
After arriving in Oxford, we were allowed free time to explore the town and make the most of the shopping opportunities, before a short rehearsal followed by refreshments. In the intimate service, we sang works such as Bruckner’s ‘Locus Iste’ and Hassler’s ‘Verbum Caro Factum Est’ to a full congregation. The choir was joined by several past members of A Cappella who are now Choral Scholars and students at the university. It was lovely to see them again and to find out how life at university is.
Overall, we had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and would like to thank Mr Fay for playing the organ for us as well as Philip Corp for organising the trip so efficiently and Mrs Poppleton for her enthusiasm and continuous dedication to our choir. Thank you to Mrs Timperley for her accompanying us during our rehearsals.
Helena Wynn and Rebekah Ingle