Choir Retrospect July 1995 to June 1996

The autumn began with a concert in St Asaph Cathedral as part of the North Wales Music Festival. The souls of the righteous by Geraint Lewis, the artistic director, was included as a tribute to his predecessor in that rôle, William Mathias, a great friend of King’s music. This concert and the services at the non-residents’ weekend saw the final appearances with the Choir of the 1995 leavers. The rapid turnover of singers, which is a particular feature of the collegiate choirs, can be frustrating for directors of music, but each year’s new choir quickly shows its mettle. This was well demonstrated last November in a concert at the Royal Festival Hall, given in aid of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, in which the Choir’s performance of Purcell was enthusiastically received.

December saw two further concerts in London: at the Albert Hall with the CUMS chorus and the RPO, as a result of which a considerable sum was raised for the Dyslexia Foundation, and at St John’s, Smith Square. A further Christmas concert was given in Leiden, Holland.

BBC Television pre-recorded Carols from King’s, and the A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was broadcast live on radio as usual, this year including Seinte Mari, moder milde, a carol newly commissioned from James MacMillan.

Just before the Lent Term a recording of music by Stanford was made, and preparations then began for a CD, TV and video production in March of Bach’s St John Passion. Michael Chance and Stephen Varcoe were among the soloists. Other former choral scholars to sing with the Choir during the year were Christoph Genz, Robert Rice and Robin Tyson, in a Purcell concert in Chapel in November, and David Crown and Peter Hall, in the Founder’s Day concert.

The St John Passion recording is the latest in a series of major projects for Columns Classics. The first, Messiah, received a 'Golden Angel Award', and a carol album, recorded in a series of early morning sessions in Toulouse, won a ‘gold disc’ award after selling 50,000 copies.

February saw the first performance of a new set of evening canticles, given in the presence of the composer, Judith Bingham, and of Gerald Peacocke, formerly Head- master of the College School, through whose generosity this latest commission was made possible. The work was broadcast on May Day.

At the end of the Lent Term a short trip was made to Denmark for concerts in the European City of Culture 1996, Copenhagen, and in Elsinore. This visit fell almost exactly sixty years after the Choir’s first foreign tour, also to Denmark.

The St John Passion was given in concert on Holy Saturday, again accompanied by Roy Goodman’s Brandenburg Consort, although sadly, Roy was making his last appearance with us in the leader’s chair. His superb musicianship and infectious enthusiasm will be greatly missed. Also at Easter we bade farewell to John McLuckie, Chaplain, who left to go to a parish in Glasgow. His admirable singing voice will be much missed.

The Easter Term is kept reasonably free of engagements because of exams, but preparations are well in hand for a concert tour to South Africa, about which I shall write next year.

Stephen Cleobury

KCCA Events in 2015

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