Chichester Voices are offering two of the finest anthems in the choral repertoire to mark the centenary of Sir Charles Hubert Parry.
Their concert on Saturday, April 14 will present Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens and I Was Glad, alongside works by his contemporaries including Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Holst.
Chichester Voices spokesman David Russell said: “Parry was one of the great Victorian/Edwardian composers who pulled together much in the English tradition, with big sweeping melodies and organ and orchestral works. His anthems are absolutely great works. They are lush, they are rich, they have beautiful harmonies.
“They can be done with big, big choirs, but take on an almost different feeling when there are 20 people singing, which is what we will do. We have a maximum of 24 singers and a minimum of 16, and that is absolutely right for what we do.”
The performance is on Saturday, April 14 at 7.30pm at St Thomas a Becket’s Church, Church Lane, Pagham, PO21 4NU, with proceeds going towards the church’s Raise the Roof fund – which the audience will be encouraged to do in singing Jerusalem, David said.” The programme also contains music by Parry’s contemporaries, including Elgar’s beautiful Lux Aeterna, Holst’s Nunc Dimitis and Five Mystical Songs by Vaughan Williams. Parry’s moving setting of Tennyson’s Crossing The Bar will also be a highlight.” Accompanist will be Richard Copeland, and the choir will be conducted, as usual, by Andrew Naylor, the choir’s founder.
“The choir started in 1992, and Andrew, a local GP, formed the choir from medics at St Richard’s Hospital. The heart of it for many years was ten to 12 people and then it expanded to about 20 over the years and non-medics were invited. Andrew is a passionate enthusiast and still conducts now. It is his baby, and he is a really enthusiastic amateur musician who has been involved in music all his life. He sets the tone, and over the years we have had some really great musicians.
“I was invited to join, and what struck me was the incredible musicianship. A lot of people are pianists and organists and we even have three composers and a composer in residence!”
David knew a lot of people in the choir and was asked to audition: “I was absolutely thrilled to join. I have sung in the Chichester Singers for 40 years. I have also been involved in CAOS (Musical Productions), and this really did meet a different musical need, which is chamber music, unaccompanied choral music, a group which allows you a much more individual response to singing.
“It is a very different repertoire as well. Chichester Voices are very keen to sing 16th and 17th unaccompanied works by people like Byrd and Palestrina right up to the jazz arrangements of the 20th-century, people like Jerome Kern. There is a variety of music and there are relatively short rehearsal periods so you have to step up or do a lot of work at home.
“The other thing the choir does is sing services at our great cathedrals. Each summer we spend a week singing in cathedrals. The boy choristers go on holiday, but the services have got to go on, so they get visiting choirs. We have sung in cathedrals including Exeter, Worcester, Gloucester, Bury St Edmunds and Chester. It is a wonderful thing to do.”
Tickets are £12 (seniors and concessions £10) on 07900 098197, online at http://www.chichestervoices.org.uk, at the church and on the door.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2