Handel's Messiah - December 2019

This year is very special for Wombourne & District Choral Society
as it is 90 years since the choir was formed back in 1929. As part of the 90th anniversary celebrations, the choir will be performing Handel's Messiah in conjunction with members of Wolverhampton Grammar School Chamber Choir and the WGS Adult Choral Society together with with four professional soloists and an 18 piece orchestra. The conductor was the choir's Musical Director, Ian Clarke.

The love affair that British classical music audiences have with this oratorio is quite phenomenal. Since its Dublin premiere in 1742, it has been performed by choirs across the land every year since at least 1745. Handel composed his most famous piece in 1741, and continued to work on it after its initial performance, finally arriving at the version we know today in 1754. Impressive solo arias, like 'Ev'ry valley shall be exalted' and 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion' are interspersed with compelling chorus numbers, telling the story of Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, and final victory over sin and death.

The concert was held on Saturday 7th December at St John's Church in the Square, Wolverhampton at 7.30pm.
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From our Musical Director, Ian Clarke after the performance...

Hi there, dear choir members.
Well...! If you are still on a high from last night's concert, then good, you jolly well should be!

What can I say, but thank you for your part in such a stirring and uplifting performance. Backed by terrific soloists, and a great orchestra, you realised so much of what I was trying to achieve to put across and express this monumental work, with all those varieties of style, the lightness of touch, the pathos, and of course the glory and the splendour. There were too many highlights to list, but suffice to say it was worth all that detailed work in the very enjoyable rehearsals, and - I'm sure you agree - the final amen was absolutely thrilling.

Have a good rest now over the festive period, and I'll look forward to seeing you again in the new year, with rather contrasting repertoire!
Congratulations again, and a very Happy Christmas to you all.
Other comments received...

"You must be very proud. Your efforts are bearing fruit. The choir is getting stronger. The addition of the young voices from WGS is surely contributing to that. Superb young soloists and a clean, vibrant orchestra added to a subtle and powerful choir made for an excellent evening. Thank you! “

"Just had to say how much we enjoyed tonight's performance. What a treat it was. Thanks and huge congratulations all round.

Not bad for a 90 year old ! “

Verdi Requiem - April 2019

Samantha Crawford, Soprano soloist commented "Choral Singing is an important part of British musical culture and heritage. It was a pleasure to perform with the Wombourne and District Choral Society for their 90th year celebration concert of Verdi’s Requiem. It is immensely rewarding to sing such a great work. Long may the opportunities for professionals and amateurs alike to be able to lift up their voices in unison. I firmly believe singing is good for the soul. Choral societies do much to encourage local community and bring the joy of singing to both performers and audience members."

David Parkes,
as our MD (1993 - 2006) was responsible for the last time WDCS performed Verdi Requiem - in the Civic Hall in 2000, he emailed...
'It was an altogether splendid occasion last evening and Maggie and I are most grateful for your kind attention and invitation to attend.
It is so good to know that music-making like that continues in Wolverhampton and I’m sure that the whole audience would have been impressed by the performance of that wonderful work. This is England at its best, is it not?
We ourselves greatly enjoyed seeing many old friends once again and to experiencing the warm atmosphere the Society invariably manages to create.
We are also aware of all the organisational hard work which goes into preparing such an occasion. Please thank everyone on our behalf.
Every good wish, David'

WDCS - Verdi Requiem performanceJanet Harrison (Choir Member) :
Well, what can I say that is adequate? The concert was wonderful, superb - all of it. I was so glad to be there, I still felt a part of it having gone through the rehearsals and all the hard work.
I was so proud of the Choir, truly the sound was tremendous, all the light and shade, lovely. The whole concert was a delight to me, the Orchestra splendid,. the soloists as always terrific and Ian as full of energy and purpose as ever. I don't know how he does it.
There was a lovely atmosphere in St. John's, expectant, and the congregation was not disappointed. The applause at the end well deserved. A truly wonderful evening that I so enjoyed and will remember with delight.

Brahms Requiem - April 2015

'The Wombourne and District Choral Society provide an ideal model for amateur music-making of the very highest order. Brilliantly rehearsed by their Music Director, Ian Clarke, they combine a diligent and enthusiastic approach with the good humour and the personal rapport which is so important for bringing together people of all ages. This is very much an inclusive organisation, with no auditions required, and with a wide range of repertoire from the major choral works, to anthems, madrigals and lighter music. It was a great privilege to take part in their performance of Brahms’ Requiem on March 28th and the size of the audience and the warm and enthusiastic applause showed just how fulfilling these endeavours are, and how important they are for the community at large. The spirit and the atmosphere were a match for any professional performance.

Nick Birch

Choral display is best present - March 2010

Our concert in March 2010 featured the first performance in the West Midlands of The Sacrifice by Antonin Tucapsky. Jerald Smith of the Express and Star wrote:

'Once again a local music group has produced a challenging and innovative programme of 20th Century music. Antonin Tucapsky is one of the foremost Czech composers of this generation and arrived here in 1975. Two years later he produced The Sacrifice, a setting of the Easter story to words by George Herbert.

Saturday's performance took place appropriately enough on the composer's 82nd birthday. He declined an invitation to attend the concert, but said in a letter to the Society that knowing it was to be performed was "the best birthday present". The Choir showed a confident ensemble, under musical director Ian Clarke, catching the dramatic nature of the composition. Baritone Piran Legg displayed a voice of rich timbre in his solos.'

Joint performance of Haydn's Creation - April 2009

In April 2009 the Wombourne Choral Society and the City of Wolverhampton Choir gave a joint performance of Haydn's Creation. The Express and Star wrote the following:

'To celebrate the bicentennial of Josef Haydn's death the City and Wombourne choirs combined their considerable talents to perform one of the composer's best loved works - The Creation. This was the first time since 1975 that local choral societies have got together to present a large choral work and the result was most impressive...The 150-strong ensemble soon settled to produce a bright and confident sound. Soprano Rachel Major showed a very pleasant tone, tenor Christopher Turner sang with great character and bass Christopher Foster contributed significantly. Music director Ian Clarke always had matters very much under control.'

Jerald Smith - Express and Star

Christmas Concert, Ralph Vaughan Williams - December 2008

Our concert in December 2008 at St John's-in-the-Square, Wolverhampton received the following favourable review from Jerald Smith, music critic of the Express and Star:

"Despite being described as a 'frightful atheist' in his younger days, Ralph Vaughan Williams still wrote extensively for the Anglican church. He edited the English Hymnal and many of his settings of carols and hymns remain popular today. Reason enough, then, for Wombourne Choral to devote this well-attended festive concert to Vaughan Williams' music, including half-a-dozen audience-participation carols and hymns.

The evocative Five Mystical Songs found baritone Hakan Vramsmo in exceptionally fine form, eloquently communicating the spirituality of George Herbert's texts. The Fantasia on Christmas Carols saw soloist and choir combining to give a heart-warming account of this collection of traditonal West Country carols, well-supported by the accompanying Wombourne String Players."

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