Monday, 08 August 2022

Clarion call for singers to make concert hall tremble

THE musical director of Henley Choral Society is inviting anyone who loves to sing to take part in a Verdi

THE musical director of Henley Choral Society is inviting anyone who loves to sing to take part in a Verdi Requiem Workshop in April at St Mary’s Church.

Will Dawes is leaving the choral society after seven years to pursue a career with his vocal ensemble, Stile Antico. However, he has one more musical event to deliver before he goes. Henley Choral Society will be performing Verdi’s Messa DaRequiem at the Concert Hall in Reading on June 8, with Southern Sinfonia and professional soloists — but the chorus needs an injection of extra voices to produce the “big” sound he wants.

“There are about 100 members in Henley Choral Society but to really make the concert hall tremble, we need a chorus of at least 150,” said Dawes. “We’re inviting people in Henley to come to a whole day singing workshop on Saturday, April 27 and then take part in a spectacular concert in Reading.”

Dawes, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, has been musical director of the chorus since September 2006.

He said: “Henley has been very good to me. They took a risk and gave me my first professional conducting job and I’ll always be grateful for that. It will be a wrench to leave — but I want to go out with a bang!”

Completed in 1874, Verdi’s funeral mass is considered a masterpiece and a thrilling operatic work.

Melissa Maple, who chairs the choral society, said: “If you know the Verdi Requiem, you will know what an extraordinary and powerful work it is. If you don’t know it, you are in for a treat.”

The society is looking forward to performing at Reading’s Concert Hall again after their sell-out performance of Haydn’s oratorio The Creation last year.Soprano Sophie Bevan, who sang the solo part, will be returning to sing the Requiem and is joined by mezzo soprano Kate Symonds-Joy, tenor David Butt Phillips and bass James Oldfield. Together with the orchestra, there will be more than 200 performers on stage.

Melissa Maple explained: “We are a strictly non-audition choir, so there are no auditions to take part in the workshop or concert. Our message is, ‘Don’t be shy! 2013 is Verdi’s bicentenary, so don’t miss these wonderful opportunities to come and sing with Will and be part of a spectacular music experience.’”

The application form containing full details of the workshop can be downloaded from, or alternatively contact the organiser, Jenny Fleming on or (01491) 575165. Workshop tickets are £15 for early-bird booking before March 31, or £20 after that date. The workshop is free for all under 25s.

After the workshop finishes there will be an informal performance of extracts of the work at 5pm. Audience tickets are £5.

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