Chichester Chorale is promising Music For A Summer’s Evening for its Festival of Chichester concert this year.
Directed as usual by Arthur Robson and joined by the Chorale String Quartet, they return to Boxgrove Priory on Wednesday, July 8 at 8pm.
Arthur is promising an unmissable evening of choral music in sublime surroundings: a programme of choral delights including Stanford – The Bluebird; Faure – Cantique de Jean Racine; and Mozart – Mass in C.
“It will be a box of delights,” Arthur says, “with some real lollipops like the Faure. We also have some beautiful Stanford including a lovely setting of his Canticles. We are looking for variety. We are looking at music that will attract people to come out on a summer’s evening.”
Part of that attraction will be the beautiful acoustic of the building itself.
“It’s a place where professional groups come to record because the acoustic is so wonderful. It is a lovely clean, clear space. You can hear absolutely everything, and you are there in wonderful surroundings which you can enjoy before the concert and during the interval if the weather is good.”
This is the 11th year for the Chorale.
“We came together because I felt it would be good to have a local community choir. This was before the days of Gareth Malone and the spread in community choral singing. We met within the university (of Chichester) space which meant we could sweep up some students where we could and also draw on the local talent. It was about bringing people together.
“When I started it, I asked Mark Wardell, who was then assistant organist at the Cathedral, to be a co-director with me which he did for the first three or four years. We did a lot of concerts spread around the county in those days.
“We usually do three concerts a year. We do one at Christmas; we do one at Easter or just after; and we do one in the summer, one a term basically. We have got about 35 people in the group at the moment, and that’s about the right number. If it gets too big, it becomes unwieldy, and then people feel they are less important, which can affect attendance.”
As Arthur suggests, people are far more likely to commit and turn up if they feel they are crucial to the success of the whole enterprise.
“We have got a lovely bunch of people - a very stable group. We have got quite a big percentage that have been with us from the beginning.”
Recording isn’t a priority: “That’s not the point. The point is really the coming together. The rehearsal is part of the general enjoyment of being part of a choir.”
And to enhance that enjoyment, for the first time ever this year, Chichester Chorale is embarking on a tour. They will be going to Bruges later this year: “It’s close, and it’s a beautiful place.”
Arthur isn’t sure yet how many concerts they will be doing: “But we will certainly be doing a service in one of the big churches. And we are also going to sing at the Menin Gate.
“I think a tour will benefit us because it helps create a stronger sense of community. They will bond because they will see each other for a longer period of time. They get to know each other better. There is no time to chat at rehearsals. We have a choir party at Christmas, though not all are able to come for that. So going away together will give us a more intense time together, a more focused, more concentrated time together, and I am sure everyone will benefit from the experience.”
As for the Festival of Chichester concert, Arthur warns people to beware. It sold out last year. Make sure you get your tickets in good time this year.
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