60 Choirs, 50 Events, 40 Locations
NOW well established as one of our great musical events, which takes place every other year, the Cornwall International Male Voice Festival comes to the county.
If this is new to you, let me give an outline of what it is all about. Male voice choirs come from all over the world to sing with other choirs – and this is the important part – as a sort of social singalong.
Four or five choirs come together to give concerts in churches and halls all over Cornwall. They have the chance to compete with each other, though this isn't vital.
The list that follows will tell you where concerts are taking place. There is not enough room to put all the choirs taking place so I will simply list the Cornish choirs in brackets. You will find a fuller list in places like libraries and tourist information centres.
Thursday, May 2: The first concert takes place in Truro Methodist Church (7pm), Cornish choirs are Cornwall Boys' Choir and Cornwall Cambiata.
There are three regional concerts (all 7.30pm) on this day in Chapel Street Chapel, Penzance (Mousehole, Tideswell), Saltash Methodist Church (Burraton, Pelynt) and St Petroc's Church, Egloshayle (Wadebridge, Eight-in-a-Bar).
Friday, May 3: Truro Cathedral (7.30pm), hosts the first international gala concert (Truro Cathedral Choir). Regional concerts (all 7.30pm) in Falmouth Methodist Church (Nankersey), Porthleven Chapel (St Keverne), St Andrew's Church, Redruth (Four Lanes New Mill, Tideswell) and Liskeard Wesley Church (Liskerret).
Saturday, May 4: There will be singing competitions in Hall for Cornwall from 9am with 24 choirs from Cornwall, UK and the rest of the world.
Regional concerts (7.30pm) St John's Methodist Church, St Austell (Mevagissey, Rame), St Neot's Church, St Neot (Loveny), Launceston Central Methodist Church (Launceston), St Petroc's Church, Padstow (Imerys Mid-Cornwall), St Pol de Leon Church, Paul (St Buryan, Falmouth Glee Singers, New Mill) and Stoke Climsland Parish Church (Tamar Valley).
There is also an international gala concert at Hall for Cornwall at 8pm (City of Truro).
Sunday, May 5: This is a day of regional concerts – lots of them. They all start at 7.30pm and are in All Saint's Church, Falmouth (Treverva), Bude Central Methodist Church (Tintagel Orpheus), Camborne Centenary Chapel (Holman-Climax), St Elwyn's Church, Hayle (Praze Hayle, Newlyn), St Just Methodist Church (Marazion Apollo), Helston Methodist Church (St Stithians) and St Michael's Church, Newquay (Newquay, Loveny).
Monday, May 6: There is a final international gala concert at Hall for Cornwall at 7.30pm (Mevagissey and – especially for band lovers – St Keverne Youth Band).
Tickets from Hall for Cornwall box office, 01872 262466 or www.hallforcornwall.org. Prices start at £7.50.
A Successful Singing Workshop
THE IDEA of a group of singers, not necessarily from choirs, not necessarily those who are brilliant at singing, coming together for a day where they learn a piece of music under an expert tutor, is becoming popular.
To give it all a bit of an edge, the result of the day's labours is presented to the public as a concert, albeit informally.
This year, workshop days have been taking place at Truro Cathedral where, at the end of the day, the "amateur" choir sings alongside the cathedral's "experts".
For some years, East Cornwall Bach Choir has enjoyed a day of singing in Liskeard Wesley Church. It welcomes friends from outside the choir, who can sit among the members, learn a lot about the music, and enjoy the singing.
For this to take place, one needs an expert tutor. Both at the cathedral and in Liskeard we are very fortunate in having just what we need.
Christopher Gray, director of music at the cathedral, has a reputation as a great musician, and has built up the choir to be one of the finest in the country.
Paul Ellis has been the conductor of East Cornwall Bach Choir for nearly ten years. His gentle but firm approach has made him very popular with choirs.
He is an expert organist besides being a conductor, and is currently director of music at Sherborne Abbey.
He lives in Sherborne and travels down each week for practices; so he clearly loves the Cornish singers as much as they love him.
This year's music at Liskeard was by 20th-century French composer, Maurice Durufle, a deeply moving requiem.
Durufle was principally an organist, in great demand, but composing he did with great skill and care.
He didn't compose very much but what he did was of the highest standard. It was something for the choir to get their teeth into and enjoy.
I went to the evening performance where the choir was in the body of the chapel and the audience filled in the odd spaces upstairs and down.
As a warm-up, we were treated to Mozart's Ave Varum Corpus and Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine, two ideal pieces to prepare us for the deeply lyrical and atmospheric music of Durufle.
In this dramatic and quite exciting work, there are nine pieces which follow the text of the Mass.
I have spoken of Paul Ellis, one of Cornwall's outstanding musicians. Luke Bond, yet another top musician, played the organ accompaniment throughout.
He is normally not seen but heard, up in the organ loft at Truro Cathedral, and, like Paul, has a great reputation.
I was sitting near him during the concert and saw at first-hand two experts, working together to produce a most memorable evening.
I know that the choir members, tired after their busy day, were thrilled with the experience. For them and us it was an experience we shall not forget in a hurry.
GIVEN even the slightest chance, Wadebridge Choral Society will find something to celebrate.
Celebration is, in fact, the name of the game when they delight in the music for the coronations of both George II and James II by singing joyous works by Handel and Purcell.
They will include Purcell's My Heart Is Inditing, as fresh today as it was in Westminster Abbey on April 23, 1685.
The event, the society's Spring Concert, takes place on Saturday, April 27, (7.30pm) in Wadebridge School.
The choir and concert orchestra, led by Philip Montgomery-Smith, will be under the sure baton of Nicholas Danks.
Tickets (£10) will be available at the door.
Endelienta is up and running
I HAVE written at length about the new, permanent, exciting music centre which is growing up in the shadow of St Endellion Church.
A place of workshops, experiment and performance, it means that St Endellion will become a year-round centre for music lovers (and don't we have a lot in Cornwall) not just a port of call for the St Endellion festival twice a year.
I have just had a list of concerts planned by Endelienta. These are in addition to the two festivals.
The first concert in the Endelienta series is on Thursday, April 25, at St Endellion.
It will be given by members of The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the local Triggshire Wind Ensemble. It will include works by Hummel, Mozart and Gounod.
On Saturday, May 4, The Joyful Company of Singers, a renowned chamber choir, will present The French Collection, choral gems from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
These will include music by Poulenc, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Debussy.
They will repeat the programme in St Mary's Church, Penzance on Sunday, May 5.
On Saturday, May 25 (and Sunday 26 in Penzance) The K'antu Ensemble – a prize-winning early music ensemble of singers and players – will present Sounds And Songs Of Renaissance Europe.
Finally, on Monday, June 3, in Penzance, Tuesday 4 at St Endellion, there is a visit by the distinguished violinist Thomas Bowes, who plays Bach sonatas as well as partitas for solo violin, all interwoven with readings by local poets.
Tickets at the door £10 (unreserved).
Goodbye to Anne Bidwell
CONDUCTORS always welcome singers in the soprano section who can get up to high notes, with a clear accurate voice, one who can encourage the less-certain singers around them to give more than their best.
Anne Bidwell was one such singer, a lady larger than life, great fun to work with, who could tackle solo or choral work, oratorio, opera and much more.
She gave a lot to the many groups she worked with. She died in February and will leave behind many happy memories.
Music in the Cathedral
THERE is an invitation for you to come along and learn to work with the cathedral choir.
The music is Mozart's Coronation Mass and Parry's I Was Glad, sung under the inspiring baton of Christopher Gray. You will rehearse between 1.15pm and 3.15pm, and perform at 5.30pm (£5 for non-performers). For more details, ring the cathedral office on 01872 276782 or see www.trurocathedral.org.uk
Aled Jones, once a chorister, and now best known as a presenter and entertainer, will be in the cathedral on Friday, April 26, (7.30pm). Tickets from 01872 262466.
There are several free lunchtime concerts in April. The Four Tunes Sax Quartet give an informal concert on Saturday 6 (1pm), Camborne Ladies' Choir sings informally on Saturday 20 (1pm), as does The Cornwall Returners Orchestra, on Saturday 27 (1pm).
There is an evening organ recital by Martin Baker, master of music at Westminster Cathedral, on Saturday 20 (7.30pm) – tickets at the door £7 – and several free lunchtime ones.
Ben Comeau (now at Girton College, Cambridge and once a Truro chorister) plays on Friday 12 (1.10pm), Sachin Gunga (Llandaff Cathedral) on Friday 19 and Jonathon Vaughn (Wells Cathedral) on Friday 26.
Finally, the cathedral plays host to the BBC for a live Radio 3 Evensong on Wednesday 17 (3.30pm). It is free but please be in your seat by 3.15pm.
The Hall in April
THE ACADEMY of St Martin in the Fields comes to the Hall on Thursday 11 (8pm) with Schubert (Octet in F D803), Mozart (horn quintet in E flat K407) and Strauss (Til Eulenspiegel).
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, under its dynamic conductor Krill Karabits, brings some exciting music, including Tchaikovsky's symphony No 2, Little Russian, on Friday 26 (7.30pm).
Say Military Wives and you get immediate attention. This choir, which has blossomed and developed, is joined by The Band of The Royal Anglian Regiment, in the Hall, on Sunday 28 (7.30pm).
Contact the box office on hallforcornwall.co.uk or 01872 262466.
THIS is the title of St Austell Choral Society's Spring Concert in St John's Methodist Church on Saturday, April 20, (7.30pm). It celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.
For the £10 ticket price (at the door) you will get an exciting variety of music specially written during the reign of the two Elizabeths.
Music will be by Elgar (guess what) as well as Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, John Dowland and Roger Quilter, to name but a few.
Soloists are Cheryl Rose-vear (soprano), Shirley Tyack (mezzo-soprano), Benjamin Hoadley (tenor) and Nicholas Beever (baritone), with a string ensemble led by Paul Matthews, Simon Dunbavand accompanying on organ or piano.
As usual, Paul Drayton's musical genius will bring it all together.
Rame Peninsular – and proud of it
RAME Peninsular Male Voice Choir was pleased to win its section at the recent Saltash Music Festival.
Still on top form, it gave a concert in Torpoint's Maryfield Church, with a wide variety of music which went down well with the packed audience.
They will be in Menheniot, in St Laluwy's Church, for their next concert, which is on Sunday, April 28, at 3pm.