The choir has been busy since our last update. We had a very successful concert in All Saints’ Church on 20th November celebrating our 40th Anniversary. The programme included Vivaldi’s Magnificat and Schubert’s Mass in G as well as two pieces by Purcell: ‘Thy Word is a Lantern’ and ‘Rejoice in the Lord Alway’. In addition, we sang a beautiful anthem by Patrick Salisbury – ‘O God the Protector of All That Trust in Thee’. Patrick was the founder of this choir and led it for many years, resigning as President in 2021. We were delighted that he was present at this concert and said a few words in support of the choir which has grown in recent months. He asked for an encore of the piece which allowed us a second chance to perform this delightful work, and to improve on our first attempt – It isn’t easy singing a composer’s work in front of him, but his encouragement inspired us.
We are grateful to Anna Shackleton, our current President, who wrote this critique:
Congratulations for such a wonderful 40th anniversary concert! A well-balanced and lively programme which you executed well. A particular ‘well done’ to the tenors! I felt the balance was generally good, although lower voices, basses in particular, could have given a little more welly in places. Altos seemed less confident in their entries. You need to try to steal the show when you have an exposed entry rather than shy away! The Vivaldi Magnificat was full of energy and started the concert with a bang, with some lovely, well-controlled crescendos and beautiful well-supported quiet singing. Movement three had slightly less confident entries from the altos and tenors when more exposed. The final unison movement I felt could have been a little faster and with a tad more zing, as it petered out slightly towards the end until the final ‘amen’ came along, but was nonetheless a good finale to the piece. The Schubert started with great poise. It was well-supported and the intonation was secure throughout. It seemed more confident than the Purcell ‘Thy word is a lantern’ which had several intonation slips and some less assured entries. I would say breathing could be lower (relaxed abdominal breathing) to get a fuller, more resonant sound and will help you to feel more ‘together’ as a choir. Worth practicing breathing together with low belly breaths (if you don’t already!). I very much enjoyed the second rendition of Patrick Salisbury’s work ‘O God the protector of all that trust in thee’. Very heartfelt and varied in colour, and wonderful to see Patrick there. I won’t say anything about the first go..! I absolutely loved the final Purcell, ‘Rejoice in the Lord’. The first entries could have had more confidence, but this seemed to grow and grow into a warm and spirited ending that was full of joy.
We were proud of our performance but pleased to have our weaknesses identified and to have ideas on how we can work towards improvement.
Over the last year we have welcomed quite a few new members whose voices have enhanced our choir considerably. We are now sufficiently confident to attempt Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle on 26th March 2023 and are looking forward to starting rehearsals on 6th January 2023.
Patrick Salisbury Prize for Musical Endeavour
Another piece of news which we have not yet reported is the presentation of the first Salisbury Music Prize for Musical Endeavour. This prize was established from money raised by the choir and friends on the occasion of Patrick Salisbury’s retirement from the presidency of the All Saints’ Singers in 2021, to show appreciation of his many years of service. It is to be awarded every year to a child in Sutton Courtenay who has shown the greatest musical endeavour. The Matrix Music Centre also contributed something to the fund and were instrumental in recommending the winner.
We are delighted to announce that the first Patrick Salisbury Prize for Musical Endeavour was awarded to Isla Clark. She received the prize in a small private ceremony on 20th July 2022 and had the thrill of speaking personally on Zoom to Patrick Salisbury who spoke the nomination. She was joined at the Matrix by her parents and sister, by Lindsay MacKenzie, manager of the Matrix, Antonia King, her teacher, and by Sandra Knowles, Chairman of All Saints’ Singers Sutton Courtenay. Isla was presented with a certificate and a book token.
This is her nomination:
I nominate Isla Clark for her achievement in her first year of music: for her hard work, overcoming challenges, and her enthusiasm in class, culminating in a great result for her first piano exam. Well done Isla!
Isla hopes to spend some of the token on a book of piano arrangements of Harry Potter music.
Join us in this exciting celebration of 40 year’s singing! Tickets are available at the door but we encourage you to obtain them beforehand if possible.
We did it! We had our first concert recently, after more than two years because of Covid. It was hard work, but also great fun, and the choir members thoroughly enjoyed both the preparation and the final concert, which was performed in All Saints’ Church, Sutton Courtenay on 22nd May. It was wonderful to see the church full of an audience who seemed to enjoy their evening.
We were very happy with our performance, and it was good to read an independent review by Alison Langton:
All Saints’ Singers Concert, Sunday 22 May
Live choral music returned to All Saints’ church with a wonderful programme of music performed by the All Saints’ Singers – their first concert since the Covid lockdown. The choir’s Music Director Sebastian Thomson gave the choir clear direction throughout and had clearly prepared his singers with thorough and effective rehearsals; and the concert was ably accompanied by organist Ben Giddens.
The choir gave a spirited and committed performance of sacred music by Mozart, Haydn and Vivaldi. The opening piece was the Missa Brevis in C by Mozart (K220) – nicknamed the Sparrow Mass because some of the accompaniment has been likened to the chirping of these birds – with contribution from the evening’s soloists: Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie (soprano), Clemmie Franks (alto), Dominic Bevan (tenor), and Michael Hickman (bass). There were a couple of late entries in the opening movement – any choir could be forgiven for a little rustiness in performance after such a long layoff – but these were soon forgotten during the emotionally charged later movements where soloists and choir interacted well.
Next we had the ever-popular Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart (K618) which was beautifully delivered to a spell-bound audience. The Te Deum in C major by Haydn completed the first half of the concert, a piece taken in a single continuous movement and requiring some vocal stamina, especially the final section Non Confundar in Aeternum. Often this work can seem rushed owing to over-fast tempi, but this performance was taken steadily and benefitted from the singers’ clear annunciation of the Latin text.
After an interval for drinks, the second half of the concert was devoted to Vivaldi. First Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie gave a beautiful rendition of the sublime motet Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera (RV630). The evening finished with the wonderful Gloria in D (RV630) – one of Vivaldi’s best-loved works. Some of the movements were taken at a rather pedestrian pace but overall it was an effective performance.
It was clear from the smiles of the audience, choir, and soloists that this was a very enjoyable and well-received concert.
We feel optimistic about future performances and are planning a 40th anniversary one in November.
The Summer Term
Members of the choir are going to meet up for six sessions singing folk songs directed by Sebastian Thomson.
As we are a small choir we are most grateful for any support people can give us, and that by becoming a Friend, and gift aiding if possible, we are able to generate a little more income. This allows us to continue giving public performances which sadly are very expensive .
Please complete our short registration form to become a Friend. It includes a Gift Aid declaration for UK taxpayers which allows us to reclaim tax on your donations if you agree.
Our next concert will be held on Sunday 22nd May 2022 in All Saints’ Church, Sutton Courtenay starting at 7:30 pm. The final programme includes:
Vivaldi: Gloria in D (RV589)
Vivaldi: Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera (RV630) – Soprano solo
Mozart: Missa Brevis in C major (KV220) Sparrow Mass
Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus (K618)
Haydn: Te Deum in C major
Tickets are £15 which includes a programme. They can be purchased by contacting or 07870 506774. They are also on sale at Hari & Esha’s in Sutton Courtenay and at the Bookstore in Bury Street, Abingdon.
Or from 2nd April you can apply on-line at https://www.trybooking.com/uk/BODN.
This promises to be a joyous and inspiring concert; we are looking forward to it and hope to see you there.
The Spring term is progressing very well. We went back to singing in the Matrix in January – without visors or masks. Our insistence on lateral flow tests and good ventilation seems to have protected us from Covid, so far. The sheer joy of singing together again has given us a renewed vigour. In addition, we have welcomed nine new members whose voices have enhanced our performance significantly. In short – we are in very good voice!
We are preparing for our concert on Sunday 22nd May 2022 in All Saints’ Church at 7:30 pm. Posters and advertisements will soon be out, and we hope that many will come and listen. Our last concert was in November 2019, and we have certainly missed being able to sing to an audience. We have chosen some delightful pieces to celebrate our return:
Haydn’s Te Deum in C
Rehearsals for the concert are going nicely, and we are adding in some other pieces in preparation for our 40th Anniversary concert planned for November.
Happy New Year!
After two years of disrupted singing we are hopeful of better times ahead, although, as we have learnt by bitter experience, this pandemic is not over yet.
Those of us who sang with the choir for the Autumn term in All Saints’ Church felt it was a great step forwards when compared to Zoom singing, which is what had kept the choir alive during the dark days of lockdown. We were together in the flesh and could talk to each other face to face! We worked on Mozart’s Sparrowmass and Haydn’s Te Deum (in English). One huge drawback was the wearing of visors for singing in order to manage the risk of Covid. While singing in a visor is rather like singing in a shower and you can hear yourself quite well, you have no idea what everyone else is singing. It gives one a very distorted and unreal experience of choral singing. Our Music Director, Sebastian Thomson, persevered magnificently even though he could only hear mumbles – I suppose it had to be better than not hearing us at all during Zoom sessions! At least he could not criticise our diction! We owe him a lot for keeping things going over these last two years.
Our rehearsals were therefore limited; by not being able to hear everyone else, by the cold (old churches are difficult to heat while ensuring adequate ventilation), by the noisiest firework display ever (see below) and by the wonderful arrival of Sebastian’s baby daughter, a little earlier than expected. We were glad we had not planned a concert in November!
We ended the term with a successful AGM (members can access the draft minutes on the members’ part of this website) and a small social gathering, while maintaining social distancing.
This next term we are planning to meet up again in the Matrix to sing – without visors. Covid precautions will be taken very seriously; we will be spaced out and the room will be well-ventilated. Furthermore, all participants will need a negative lateral flow test prior to the meeting. And this time we will be working towards a concert – provisionally booked for 22nd May 2022 in All Saints’ Church – our first for more than two years.
The pieces we will be singing are:
- Vivaldi’s Gloria
- Mozart’s Sparrowmass
- Haydn’s Te Deum in C – in Latin
Please watch this website for more news about the concert as the term progresses. We do hope you will come and listen, if you are not actually singing in the choir.
A lot has been happening for the choir recently as things open up after lockdown.
On 18th August we had a tea party to celebrate Patrick Salisbury’s presidency of the All Saints’ Singers after his retirement earlier in the year. Twenty-four of us, both past and present members, met for a lovely tea in the River Room at All Saints’ Church. Our chairman, Sandra Knowles, presented Patrick with a beautiful tumbler engraved with the All Saints’ Singers’ logo. Val Bronsdon, one of the original choristers at the foundation of the choir in 1982, shared memories of the early years and described the tremendous support and inspiration that Patrick had given to the musicians of Sutton Courtenay in both the choir and orchestra. She thanked him for all that he had done for the choir over the last four decades. We also heard that the contributions to his leaving present had funded a prize for Musical Endeavour to be presented to a Sutton Courtenay schoolchild every year for the next 10 years – the Patrick Salisbury Music Prize. Additional support from the Matrix has added to the prize, the winners of which will be decided by the staff at that centre.
We have started singing again! Rehearsals are taking place in All Saints’ Church and we are wearing visors because of Covid restrictions, but we are physically together and enjoying each other’s company. Not everyone has returned as yet, preferring to wait until restrictions are no longer needed, but we do have some new members. We are singing Haydn’s Te Deum in C and Mozart’s Sparrow Mass, ably directed by Sebastian Thomson. We are not planning a concert in November, but certainly plan to have one at Easter if this pandemic continues to submit to the vaccination programme.