Choral tradition resumes in aid of hospice work

David Soar
David Soar

The Sussex Festival Choir and Sinfonia da Chiesa return to Arundel Cathedral on Sunday, July 31 with a performance of Edward Elgar’s oratorio The Kingdom.

Spokesman Patrick McGuinness-Smith said: “After a break last year, the choir and orchestra are picking up where they left off, by continuing the series of annual concerts in Arundel which started in 2003. They have all been in support of the hospice movement.

“The Kingdom describes the progression of Jesus’ apostles, from the time they restore their number to twelve by appointing a replacement for the shamed Judas Iscariot. They go through the experience of the visitation of the Holy Ghost and are enabled to speak in different languages. Peter then discovers that he possesses the power to heal, hitherto the exclusive ability of Jesus himself and the apostles come to realise the awesome strength of their position and thank God for entrusting them with this power. The oratorio was first performed at the Birmingham Music Festival in October 1906. The Kingdom is not featured as often in choral concerts as its music deserves, a fact which is largely the result of the large orchestral accompaniment called upon by the composer.

“It differs in style from the conventional oratorio, where the soloists have their bits and the choir have theirs and only occasionally do they join forces and sing together. The Kingdom has an operatic feel to it, with chorus and soloists frequently intermingling in a sometimes conversational manner.”

The four soloists for this concert are Lesley-Jane Rogers soprano, Susan Marrs mezzo, Neil Jenkins tenor and David Soar bass, who is currently rehearsing Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Glyndebourne.

“The concert is given in aid of St Wilfrid’s and St Catherine’s Hospices, for whom we are hopeful that this series of concerts will have raised over £100,000.”

Tickets available at the Cathedral on concert day or by email stephenhope60@gmail.com

The Sussex Festival Choir was formed in 2003 by Stephen Hope for two main purposes: firstly to provide a large-scale platform for choristers to perform a large work with large forces during the summer term when their own choirs have broken up, and secondly to raise money for the hospice movement. Initially the choir met to perform large choral works with the Sinfonia da Chiesa in Arundel Cathedral every July to raise money for St Catherine’s and St Wilfrid’s Hospices. Following on from that initial success in 2003, the choir has travelled all over Europe on tours to Venice, Florence, Rome, Bruges, Ghent, Lille, Venice, Barcelona, Krakow, and in 2013, Salzburg.

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