News and Media

An Alternative to Social Media

We are aware that quite a few members and followers of Whatlington Singers are not on social media platforms. During the Covid-19 pandemic we have been holding regular ‘Facebook rounds’, sharing pictures of our gardens or choices of music. So that all can enjoy this we will also post content on this page for everyone to enjoy.

Or check out our facebook page if you can!

Flower Festival

Brenda in the altos created this lovely flower arrangement for the Flower Festival at St Mary Magdalene on Sunday 26th July. Thank you Brenda for representing Whatlington Singers, and to the members who came along to support.

‘Desert Island Discs’

We challenged members to submit just three ‘Desert Island Discs’, all contemporary, and none classical.

Patrick goes first with

‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon & Garfunkel

‘In my Life’ The Beatles

‘Fly to me’ Keane

Sue’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ are:

‘Hymn to the Fallen’ – John Williams
‘Wind Beneath my Wings’ – Bette Middler
‘Perhaps Love’ – John Denver & Placido Domingo

Brenda’s choice of ‘Desert Island Discs’ are:

‘I wish I knew (how it felt to be free)’ Nina Simone

‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin

‘Summertime’ from Porgy & Bess by George Gershwin

Yvonne writes with some excellent explanations:

First up is Joni Mitchell and “ A Case of You” from the album Blue
It contains a wonderful line….
Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as the Northern Star”
And I said “Constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at? If you want me I’ll be in the bar”
Her voice was pure and versatile and she was one of the first artists I discovered as I grew into teenager hood and kicked against my parents’ choice of music ( mainly The Seekers)

Second up is Doors and ‘Riders on the Storm’
Fantastic to have the sound of thunder and rain on a record and just wonderful music

Third is Fleetwood Mac. Best band ever
Landslide sung by Stevie Nicks. Oh to have her voice ….

Thanks Yvonne – in a time when Facebook is all about ‘Post with no explanation…’ it’s great to have this insight into your music.

Iva’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ are:

‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ Simon and Garfunkel


‘The Rose’ – the Elaine Page version only!

Liz’s choices are:

‘The Trooper’ – Iron Maiden (my favourite band believe it or not)

‘Hotel California’ – The Eagles

‘Hysteria’ – Muse

Elaine has put forward:
Hotel California – Eagles

The Long and Winding Road – Beatles

Honky Tonk Women – Rolling Stones

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My Most Memorable Choral Singing Experience

Iva tells us:

My most memorable choral experience was in December 2018 when I went to Vienna with Brenda (and our husbands) to sing Mozart’s Requiem. I have sung this Requiem on a number of occasions, but this was something extraordinarily special.
This is an annual event held in the Cathedral on 4/5th December, and timed as near as possible to Mozart’s death. We joined a large group of singers from The Really Big Chorus, whom we had sung with on numerous occasions in the Albert Hall.
The performance was conducted by Gerard Wirth the head of the Vienna Boys Choir, and there were several rehearsals before the event. It was quite an experience singing with a distinguished conductor.
Two things I remember – Gerard felt the Lachrimosa needed to be taken at a quicker pace than normally sung, and then I was trying to follow his pace for a fugue when I looked up from my score, to find him almost doing a salsa type dance around the podium to try to keep us together. Totally reduced me to giggles and I hoped the actual occasion would be too solemn to allow a re-run!!!
There was about 250 in the choir, with a full orchestra, and after the rehearsal in the afternoon there were very many people just lining up to listen, We filed in at about 11 pm to sort out our singing positions and we then watched in amazement as the huge cathedral space filled with the audience, until there was standing room only. We began singing at 11. 55 pm.
How could anyone be failed to be moved by such a glorious sound and the whole ambience and …………… of singing in that incredible space. There were several times when I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck and the lovely conductor guiding us through to the end.
We completed the Requiem at about 12.05 am, the time it was felt that Mozart had died, and with the final notes there was complete silence.
The audience had been told not to applaud, and that silence was just broken by the Angelus bell which also accompanied the choir as we all filed out. .
We emerged into the cold Vienna night, but still up on high with the genius of Mozart, the Cathedral and surroundings, all the many many people from different countries, the fantastic conducting of Gerard Wirth, but most of all the combined singing of the choir in this most sublime of Requiems.

How can I ever forget.

Yvonne in the altos shares her memory.

“I think the most spine tingling experience I had, was singing the Brahms Requiem at Newnham College with a student and alumni choir, for a scratch performance a couple of years ago. The airy setting of Clough Hall (a Basil Champneys building) looking over the exquisite gardens was very special. The piece was accompanied by 2 pianists, giving it a clarity and simplicity lost with an orchestra and suited to the space. It made me realise how far along I had come on my musical journey since beginning to sing in Cambridge 40 years previously and how much joy and friendship I had gained in belonging to various choirs, the best of the lot being WS of course! Of course the Requiem is one of my favourite pieces of music having first heard it live, rather than on a record, which is in itself an indescribable experience for a 19 year old.”

Patrick in the tenors writes

“I expect many of us BCS alumni will recall the performance of Messiah when a member of the audience was carried out on a stretcher while the bass sang ‘The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised.’ Very dramatic. That was at St John’s in Pevensey Rd. “

From Brenda in the altos

“Without doubt my most memorable choral experience was singing Mozart’s Requiem with Iva and a choir from The Really Big Chorus in the vast and magnificent St. Stephens Cathedral, Vienna to mark Mozart’s death. The Requiem always begins at midnight and finishes to coincide with the time of Mozart’s death and a different choir is invited to sing each year.

We were conducted by the Director of The Vienna Boys Choir who was just a joy to listen to and learn from. We were a motley choir of 250 singers, mostly it has be said ‘silver topped’ but most were seasoned singers and had obviously sung the Requiem many times. I will never forget singing Lacrimossa. It always grieves me that so often choirs launch into this glorious chorus with such enthusiasm that they sing it too loudly! Our Director made us sing Lacrimossa so gently and beautifully that it felt as soft as silk, I have goose bumps just remembering.

Peter and Trevor were in the hotel across the square from the Cathedral while we were in there rehearsing during the evening. When they came out for the performance they found people queuing across the square and down the side streets, the Cathedral was packed. Later we met people from America and Russia who were there just for the Requiem.

The church treats the performance as a Requiem Mass and at the end there was no applause. (The silence! – more goose bumps!) The clergy came down through the tiered ranks of the choir carrying a cross and candles and processed down the nave of the church followed by the orchestra and then the choir. Iva and I went to get our coats from a side room then outside and back into the cathedral through the main door to meet Trevor & Peter and the choir was still coming off the staging. As we waited people came up to us and thanked us!

When I saw a handwritten poster in a Battle Shop 20 years ago ‘ Can you sing in tune? Friendly choir etc etc’ and I pitched up not knowing a note of music or what on earth I was doing there or what I would be singing, I could not have imagined, ever, that one day I would be singing in a Cathedral in Vienna some of the most glorious music ever written.”

Sue in the sopranos writes

“It was when I was singing with Rye singers a long while ago and the concert was at St Mary’s.

We didn’t have a full orchestra just the piano as I remember, with the wife of the pianist turning the pages. I can’t even remember what we where singing! Anyway we got started and everything was sounding pitch perfect. We where into the second half and singing away when something went a bit wrong…..the choir kept following Leslie’s conducting, but it sounded all out of kilter. Then suddenly Leslie told us to stop which we did, wondering what was going on. It turned out that the pianists page turner, turned 2 pages of the music by mistake! But in true theatrical fashion the music was put back in order and we just carried on!

Probably not the first time this has happened or the last.”

My most memorable choral experience was my 1st one in Grammar School, when age about 14 I was chosen as to be a ” Dreaded Shape and Horror”, in Gluck’s “Orpheus and Eurydice”. I loved lying on the stage, writhing, dressed in black, from head to toe and with long black cardboard nails! And singing at the same time! I found the music incredible, having heard nothing like it in my life….I still have goose-bumps when I hear “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”, and “Eurydice”….that 11-plus scholarship took me to realms unknown, and planted seeds for my love of music and singing ever since…

Anna in the tenor section.

My Favourite Piece of Choral Music

I’ve asked members to share their one favourite choral piece with us. I’ve had a great response and shall be posting them over the next few days. Consequently I’ve spent the last hour trying to decide my own favourite! This is VOCES8 with their performance of “Hear my Prayer O Lord” by Henry Purcell. This is my favourite to sing, the way the false relations (dissonant notes) twist and turn against each other is just exquisite. Enjoy.

Anna in the tenors shares “The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” and traditional Irish tune arranged by Desmond Earley, performed by The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin.

A firm favourite with many choirs and singers is Faure’s Requiem. This is a version by John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir. Thank you to Julie in the tenors for this favourite.

Iva in the altos says her favourite is “How lovely is thy Dwelling Place” from Brahms’ German Requiem. Here is a version by the late, great, Otto Klemperer, with the Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra. In German of course.

John M in the basses can always be relied upon to choose beautiful music. He has shared “Pilgrim’s Hymn” by Stephen Paulus, sung by University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

Elaine in the sopranos describes herself as a Verdi groupie! Her favourite Requiem version is by the Berlin Philharmonic with Carlo Maria Giulini, Sharon Sweet, Simon Estes, Florence Quivar and Vinson Cole. I’ve exercised editors rights here and linked to the Tuba Mirum of that version. The writing for the trumpets is quite the best fanfare, in my humble opinion, ever written. When I was choosing this I came across a 1964 film recording of Giulini conducting this from memory – amazing!

Gillian’s choice of favourite music is Tippett’s “A Child of Our Time”. I have chosen a recording by Sir Colin Davis with BBC Singers, BBC Choral Society, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Dame Janet Baker and Jessye Norman.

Patrick in the tenors says his favourite is Mozart’s Requiem. To put the cat among the pigeons I have linked to a setting completed by Duncan Druce and conducted by a great proponent of authentic performance, Sir Roger Norrington, with the London Classical Players and the Schutz Choir of London. Not your ‘average’ version, let me know whether you love it or loathe it…

Sue M in the altos loves “Flocks in Pastures Green Abiding” from Bach’s Cantata BWV 208 arranged by Stanley Roper. Not to be confused with its more famous cousin “Sheep may safely graze”, it has been quite tricky to locate a recording to share. Here is the Heritage Masterworks Chorale. PS if anyone has a CD with this on please get in touch.

Mary in the sopranos shares a cheerful early Baroque mass setting by Alessandro Scarlatti – Messa per il Santissimo Natale. Performed by Concerto Italiano,conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini.

This is Alison’s favourite, “Lay a Garland” by Pearsall, performed by VOCES8. This is a stunning rendition.

Yvonne’s favourite is “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen” from Brahms’ A German Requiem. She is in good company as Iva chose it last week. So here is a different version, the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, with the sheet music so you can all sing along.

Sue F in the sopranos is a fan of the Requiem. She has chosen Karl Jenkins setting, with Cor Caerdydd & Cytgan and the West Kazakhstan Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer.

Brenda, in the altos, is also a fan of Brahms’ German Requiem (that’s about half the altos now, I’m sensing a pattern). Her favourite chorus is “Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herrn sterben” here performed by UniversitätsChor München and Collegium Musicum München conducted by Johannes Kleinjung.

Julie snuck in a second favourite – Bach’s Magnificat. Here is the Netherlands Bach Society with conductor Jos van Veldhoven. The Society are trying to produce recordings of every Bach piece. Watch out for the period instruments, and the small chorus (hey, we could do this!).

A favourite of many is Handel’s Messiah. Here is a live streamed version from ABC at the Sydney Opera House with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Christmas Choir, Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra, Brett Weymark (conductor). Notice how the vowel sounds change with the region – something every choir needs to keep on top of.

A close third choice from a member here is Haydn’s Creation. Here is “Der Herr ist groß in seiner Macht” from Die Schöpfung (The Creation) / Elsa Dreisig, soprano · Mark Padmore, tenor · Florian Boesch, baritone · Sir Simon Rattle, conductor · Gijs Leenaars, chorus master · Rundfunkchor Berlin · Berliner Philharmoniker. With a link on the page to access the whole recording.

Full-length concert: Joseph Haydn: “Der Herr ist groß in seiner Macht” from Die Schöpfung

Two of my favourite things – VOCES8 and Byrd. VOCES8 performs William Byrd’s double motet ‘Ne Irascaris Domine’ and ‘Civitas Sancti Tui’ in the Gresham Centre in London.

A second favourite from Sue F – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem. Here performed by the English Chamber Orchestra.

Jane’s favourite is Harry Christopher’s The Sixteen singing Allegri’s Miserere Mei. A fantastic choice in my opinion.

Adam has chosen Carl Orff – Carmina Burana
„14. In taberna quando sumus“
Munich String and Percussion Orchestra
Madrigal Choir Munich, Choir Director: Martin Steidler
Conductor: Adel Shalaby. You don’t always need the sopranos and altos…

Featuring what is supposed to be the last 16 bars Mozart ever wrote, in a less controversial setting is the Lacrimosa from his Requiem.

An absolute corker for our final favourite for this theme. Yvonne has chosen A Sea Symphony (Symphony No. 1) : I. A Song for All Seas, All Ships. · Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra · Andrew Manze · Ralph Vaughan Williams · Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir · Mark Stone · James Ehnes.
I didn’t know this piece very well until Yvonne mentioned it and now I want to perform it!

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