May 2023

SPRING CONCERT 

on 13th May 2023 in St John’s Church, Clevedon

The special feature of our Spring Concert on 13th May 2023 was indicated by the title “Sound the Trumpets!”.  For the first time in many years, in addition to our phenomenally gifted accompanist Richard Lennox on keyboard and organ, we had an octet of professional instrumentalists from Bristol.  To a string quintet of 2 violins, viola, ‘cello and double bass were added two trumpets and timpani.  In St. John’s resonant acoustic they gave added lustre to a splendidly varied programme featuring music by Byrd, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Bairstow.  

Under Matthew Clark’s committed and inspiring direction the choir has grown to more than 40 in number, and they were joined by four excellent soloists:  Heather Wardle – Soprano, Juliet Curnow – Alto, Archie Playdon – Tenor, and William Stevens – Bass.  

The concert opened with Joseph Haydn’s great “Te Deum in C”, a paean of praise to God which he composed at the request of the Empress Maria Theresa.  She was a music-lover and keen singer and, accompanied by the full ensemble, it provided a fitting opening to a programme of richly contrasted choral favourites.  This was followed by two very different settings of the ancient Latin text “Ave Verum Corpus”.  The first, accompanied by Richard Lennox on the organ, was the mini-masterpiece by Mozart.  One of his final compositions, it is a much-loved staple of church and cathedral choirs. The Choir then sang the same words in an unaccompanied setting by William Byrd, written some 180 years earlier, which was chosen to commemorate the 400thanniversary of the death of one of England’s greatest composers.  

This was followed by one of Edward Bairstow’s most dramatic and arresting anthem’s, “Blessed City, Heavenly Salem”.  Composed to show off the power of a great cathedral organ and choir (he was organist at York Minster from 1913 till his death in 1946), he juxtaposes bold climaxes with deliciously delicate passages.  One oddity of Bairstow’s setting of J. M. Neale’s text is that he omitted the last verse.  Happily, that has been made good by Dr Rob Waters, who brings Bairstow’s work to a glorious conclusion with a coda composed for Gloucester Cathedral Choir, where Matthew is a Bass Lay Clerk.  

Three further works completed the first half of the concert.  The first was another tribute to Willam Byrd, the “Agnus Dei” from his “Mass for Four Voices”.  It is quite remarkable that he could write such a serene setting at a time of such political and religious unrest.  That was followed by Mendelssohn’s anthem “Verleih uns Frieden” (“Lord, in your mercy, send us peace”), written in the wake of his discovery and promotion of J. S. Bach’s “Passions”.  Despite Robert Schumann saying “This small piece deserves to be world famous” it was, for many, a delightful discovery.   To conclude, the Choir sang Haydn’s rousing early anthem “Insanae et Vanae Curae” (“Vain and raging cares invade our minds”).  Two furiously dramatic sections, hammering out the futility of man’s vain ambitions, are followed by two sections in which the peace-filled text “If God is for you, all things are favourable for you” conjures a quiet hope after the furies that went before, and the piece ends peacefully.  After all that it was time for some refreshments.

The second half of the concert featured just one work – Haydn’s magnificent “Missa in Angustiis”, otherwise known as “The Nelson Mass”. The great musicologist and Haydn authority, H. C. Robbins Landon, describes this masterpiece as “arguably Haydn’s greatest single composition”, and it certainly wowed performer and audience alike.  Here the Choir, the excellent band of soloists, the chamber ensemble and Richard Lennox on the organ had the scope to revel in great music-making, and they did so to thrilling effect – the magnificent trumpet playing and resounding timpani adding a blaze of colour and splendour.  It was a fitting ending to a memorable evening, and the delighted audience showed their appreciation to the echo!

Christmas 2022

Handel’s “Messiah” at St John’s, Clevedon

Saturday 10th December 2022

December 10th 2022 was bitterly cold, and England were playing France in a crucial World Cup Quarter Final match, but a large and expectant audience greeted Clevedon Choral as we gathered in St John’s Church for our Christmas Concert, Handel’s great Oratorio “Messiah”.

We were joined by four excellent soloists: Freya Holliman (Soprano), Nicole Boardman (Mezzo-Soprano), Deryck Webb (Tenor), and Stephen Hamnett (Bass).  Each sang with great character and beauty of tone, and their joining the choir in the ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Amen’ Choruses added lustre to those climactic moments.

As usual we were accompanied by the extraordinarily gifted Richard Lennox on a digital keyboard, from which he conjured a palette of sounds each chosen according to whether it was a recitative, aria or one of the great choruses. 

Afterwards some audience members who have attended our concerts for many years said that Clevedon Choral had reached new heights of tonal quality and ensemble that they had never heard before.  That was all thanks to Matthew Clark’s expert and very enjoyable coaching methods and to his inspirational conducting on the night, so that the performance built steadily towards the thrilling climax of the final triple chorus, which was greeted by a well-deserved standing ovation lasting several minutes.

Christmas Concert at Tyntesfield

Saturday 17th December 2022

One week later a section of Clevedon Choral performed a programme of Christmas Anthems and Carols in the Chapel at Tyntesfield.   Once again a full house braved the biting cold to welcome us as we sang a 50-minute programme ranging from Victoria and Handel to modern music and carols.  

These included James MacMillan’s “O Radiant Dawn”, Morton Lauridson’s “O magnum mysterium”, and Henryk Górecki’s “Totus Tuus”, with plenty of familiar items in the mix as well!  The Chapel’s size limits us to 25 singers, but the resonant acoustic helps enormously, and the audience was delighted by our sound and the variety of the programme, with many very complimentary remarks being offered afterwards

Christmas Concert 2021

‘Fear Not…Be Glad and Rejoice!

Saturday 11th December 7.30pm

St Peters Church, Alexandra Rd, Clevedon

Tickets £12 (includes drink and mince pie on entry)

Tickets now available here, book early to avoid disappointment

Book tickets

Our Christmas Concert under new Musical Directorship. Matthew Clark has chosen inspiring choral music on a festive theme -with a twist. Featuring Richard Lennox on the organ.

Concert Programme

  • Once in Royal Gauntlett with audience

Fear not, for thou art highly Favoured

  • Magnificat in D Dyson
  • Bogoroditse Dyevo (Ave Maria) Rachmaninoff
  • The Crown of Roses Tchaikovsky
  • The Infant King arr. Willcocks
  • Angleus ad Virginem arr. Willcocks

Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife

  • Cherry Tree Carol, arr. Willcocks
  • Coventry Carol arr. Walford-Davies
  • God rest ye, merry Gentlemen arr. Willcocks
  • Fear not, O Land Elgar
  • O Come, all ye Faithful Latin Hymn with audience

Interval

  • Oh how Amiable Vaughan Williams
  • While Shepherds watched with audience

Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great Joy

  • O thou the central Orb Wood
  • The Shepherds Farewell Berlioz
  • Quell est cette Odeur? arr. Willcocks
  • Nativity Carol Rutter
  • Sussex Carol arr. Willcocks
  • Finale from Dona Nobis Pacem Vaughan Williams
  • Hark the Herald Mendelssohn with Audience
Continue reading “Christmas Concert 2021”

Time and Tide – Community Opera

Time and Tide

On 24 and 25 October an exciting new community opera, ‘Time and Tide’, will be performed at Clevedon Community Centre to mark the 150th anniversary of the building of Clevedon Pier.

Time and Tide will celebrate the Pier and enrich the artistic, particularly musical, culture of Clevedon. The project will combine children and students in performance alongside adults.  Amateurs will perform with professionals. The music will reflect songs of the sea and the Victorian sea-side in a classical, yet contemporary, style. The words will include ideas from participants and convey, with the music, a sense of the winds, waves and tides. The choir will narrate the moving story of the pier, from its conception to its Victorian heyday, through its neglect, damage and near demolition in the 1970s. We will finally arrive at the pier’s rescue and restoration; a moving story of survival against the odds.

Time and Tide is to be a large-scale, intergenerational music theatre project, an innovation which will bring together the community of this small seaside town in a high quality artistic enterprise, led by an experienced artistic team. Students from Clevedon School and children from local primary schools, will perform alongside professional soloists and musicians.

Time and Tide music is by Mark Lawrence with words by Claire Williamson, known for the recently performed community operas ‘Home at Last’ performed at St Mary Redcliffe and ‘The Hall on the Hill’, performed at St George’s, Brandon Hill, in Bristol.

We have been promised support from other local singing groups, so there will be a core of singers accustomed to performing. Teach tracks will be available for participants to practice at home. If you would like to be part of the Open Access Community Choir, and are able to attend rehearsals weekly in the run up to the performances for around an hour, please come along and have a go. You don’t have to pay a subscription to do so.

Rehearsals:                          Monday 9, 23 and 30 September and 14 October. (Additional dates may be added if appropriate).

Place:                                     Kenn Road Methodist Church, BS  (opposite Tesco)

Time:                                      7.20 to 9.30

Dress Rehearsals:              19 and 23 October at Clevedon School and Princes Hall

Please email clevedonchoral@gmail.com to register your interest, stating SATB voice part if known.

Time and Tide is sponsored by the Arts Council. We welcome additional offers of sponsorship and assistance  

Piers and Picnics

The sun always seems to shine on our end of Summer Choir concerts. This must have been the hottest yet! On Saturday 4th August we entertained an appreciative crowd on Clevedon Pier with a selection of songs and ending with a hearty rendition of ‘ Drunken Sailor’. On Sunday we performed again to friends and family at Sunhill Park, Clevedon then quickly retreated to the shade for a well earned picnic. Thank you to all who took part and came along to support us.


New Autumn/Christmas Term 2018

Our new term begins on Monday 10th September 2018 at our usual rehearsal venue at Kenn Road Methodist Church. Rehearsals start at 7.30pm, but we ask members to arrive at 7.15pm to allow time to register etc. New members always welcome.

This year we will be working towards out Christmas Concert on Saturday 15th December when we will perform ‘A Light in the Stable’ by Alan Bullard. A lovely piece which tells the Christmas Story with a blend of original settings and more well-known carols. We will also be performing some of the Christmas settings from Handel’s ‘Messiah’.