Recent Concerts

The 2022/2023 Season of Concerts

This season has seen WKCS combining with other choirs, which has been a stimulating experience.  The winter concert in November 2022 enlisted the assistance of Warwickshire Youth Choirs who sang the children’s choruses from Alexander L’Estrange’s Wassail!  The concert opened with a spirited rendering of some choruses from JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, including ‘Jauchzet frohlocket’ (Rejoice and be glad), and the chorale ‘Wie soll ich dich empfangen?’ (How can I be ready for thee?).  There were other Christmas favourites, such as ‘The shepherds’ farewell’ by Hector Berlioz and works by John Rutter.  The first half also featured a dazzling accordion solo by Ben de Souza.  He, along with Colin Druce on piano, and with recorder, double bass and percussion providing accompaniment too, brought rhythm and excitement to L’Estrange’s settings of the carols in his work, Wassail!  Many of the introductions to the carols were performed by the children of Warwickshire Youth Choirs whose contributions chimed perfectly with the adult SATB choir.  The capacity audience in St Nicholas Church, Warwick was well pleased with the lively carols, and the committee were most grateful to Ben Hamilton and Jeremy Dibb for their work schooling the youth choir.  WKCS is again grateful for the financial contribution to this concert made by the King Henry VIII Endowed Trust, Warwick.

The second concert of the 2022/2023 season, in late-April, was Verdi’s Requiem, for which WKCS combined with the Coventry Philharmonic Choir.  As David Wynne was the Musical Director for both choirs, rehearsals proceeded in parallel.  The 70-strong Leamington Chamber Orchestra made a huge contribution.  The combined effect of 127 singers and the LCO, (including 8 trumpets for the ‘Tuba, mirum spargens sonum’) brought the necessary drama to the whole work.  The massive sound and precision singing, firmly controlled by David Wynne, filled All Saints Church, Leamington Spa.  The soloists made an exceptional contribution, with especial mention going to Carrie-Ann Williams, for her strong soprano line, holding her own against the whole choir.  Martha McLorinan provided a deep-toned mezzo-soprano voice and Peter Davoren, tenor and Joseph Kennedy, baritone, mastered the beautiful ‘Domine Jesu.’  Few choir members will forget the drama of the introduction to the ‘Tuba, mirum’ with the trumpets ringing out from each side of the church.  Similarly, the double chorus of the ‘Sanctus’ followed this pattern with singing from both sides and was one of the highlights of the piece.  Although All Saints’ is a large venue, members of the audience had to be restricted to 280 to accommodate the orchestra and two choirs.  Thankfully, the concert was a sell-out and raised funds for Myton Hospice.

WKCS rounded off its 2022/2023 season with our summer concert in mid-July, later than usual because of the late-April date of the Verdi concert.  It was an unseasonably squally day, but the weather did not dampen the choir’s enthusiasm for a concert of popular sacred anthems and choruses, plus some British folk songs.  We were blessed by a good-sized and appreciative audience in St John’s Church, Kenilworth.

Before taking our seats the choir was split into two choirs on either side of the church to sing the stirring Parry anthem I was glad.  This has been sung at every coronation since 1902 and announces the arrival of the monarch at Westminster Abbey – a good opener for any event!  Other familiar works were Franck’s Panis angelicus and Mozart’s Ave verum Corpus.  The choir were joined by the lovely soprano voice of Alexandra Wynne for her solos in Mendelssohn’s Hear my prayer including the touching ‘O for the wings of a dove.’  We had two Handel pieces in the second half, ‘Zadok the Priest,’ one of his Coronation Anthems (and this has been part of British coronations since 1727), and, as a stand-alone piece, the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus from Messiah.  We sang two English folk songs and two in Scots English by Robert Burns, Afton Water and Ca’ the yowes [Call the ewes].  David Wynne, our Musical Director sang the baritone solo line for the latter.  This was our last concert under his direction as he, Alexandra and their two children make a new home in her home county of Northumberland – we wish them well!  The choir was accompanied by Colin Druce on the organ, our continued thanks to him for his expertise at our concerts and for our weekly rehearsals over the year too.  The concert concluded with a rousing encore of Parry’s Jerusalem, where the audience were invited to join in.

The 2021/2022 Season of Concerts

Following the lockdown pause to our concert routine (although the choir continued to sing on Zoom for the whole duration), the Committee decided to concentrate on Handel’s Messiah for the autumn term.  This produced two excellent and fully rehearsed concerts in December 2021; one performance in Warwick and the other in Kenilworth.  The soloists were Natalie Johnson-Hyde, soprano; Esther Beard, alto; Ed Harrisson, tenor, and Andrew Randall, bass.  Apart from distinguished organ playing by Colin Druce, the work was accompanied by two trumpet players, who added excitement at each climax, and gave an excellent rendering of ‘The trumpet shall sound.’  We were pleased to see the return of Andrew Randall who had distinguished himself previously in our Bach St John’s Passion concert.

The second concert of the season, in April 2022, was Haydn’s Creation.  This deservedly popular work, saw the choir return to the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick after a considerable absence.  The soloists were Holly Teague, soprano; Dominic Lee, tenor, and Aaron Kendall, bass.  We were also joined by the talented and friendly chamber orchestra, Central England Camerata, plus Kevin Gill on organ.  The quiet beginning of the opening chorus follows chaos, represented by an orchestral piece, before the first day of God’s creation, culminating with the loud declaration by the choir: ‘. . . and there was LIGHT!’  All aspects of creation receive their due moment with the soloists representing archangels in the first two parts of the oratorio.  In part three, bass and soprano take the roles of Adam and Eve, when all is still good in the garden.  The choir and soloists come together at the end with the glorious chorus ‘Sing the Lord, ye voices all’ to offer ‘utter thanks’ to God for His greatness.  WKCS wishes to thank the King Henry VIII Endowed Trust, Warwick, for their financial contribution to this concert.

For the summer concert in June 2022, there was a change of style and venue.  From classical Handel and Haydn, we moved to a mostly 20th century jazz-based programme, including A little jazz mass by Bob Chilcott.  Additionally, the choir performed George Shearing’s Songs and sonnets; these were an excellent addition to the choir’s repertoire.  Shakespeare’s sonnets and verses from some of his plays, such as ‘It was a lover and his lass’ from As you like it, were set to a jazz rhythm by Shearing.  The pieces were popular with choir and audience alike.  A favourite was ‘Who is Silvia?’ from The two gentlemen of Verona.  The choir also sang one of John Rutter’s Birthday madrigals, a setting of ‘Come live with me and be my love’, which was an interesting contrast to Shearing’s version, and more technically challenging!  There were also four madrigals from the reign of Elizabeth I – by Morley, Bennet, Wilbye, and Farmer.  This fulfilled the concert’s theme of music from the reigns of two Elizabeths in what was the Platinum Jubilee year.  The choir and audience were also treated to some jazz duets by Colin Druce, on piano, and Andy Derrick, on double bass. They also provided excellent accompaniment for the choir.  For the first time, we gave the concert in Holy Trinity Church, Leamington Spa, which has an excellent acoustic.