Concert review: St Bartholomew’s, Lower Basildon

Over the last weekend of March, we enjoyed a concert at the beautiful St. Bartholomew’s church in Lower Basildon, West Berkshire.

The concert was a lovely way to welcome the start of spring and we enjoyed performing to a packed church, by candlelight.

The choir rehearsing at St. Bartholomew’s before the concert

 

We also received some lovely feedback that we just had to share with you:

“Magic from start to finish. The choir are in a class of their own. The evening was both enchanting and moving the singing reaching into every corner of our historic church.Your new Musical Director was obviously thrilled with the evening’s performance. The programme delighted the audience it was a memorable event for us all.The Friends of St Bartholomew’s also raised sustainable funds towards the restoration work at the church.We are looking forward to 2019 when we will welcome the choir to Lower Basildon once again.”

Lynn Thorn – Concert Organiser and Friend of St. Bartholomew’s

“Your concert last night was wonderful, I am so glad to have heard your choir sing at last and I love hearing concerts in Church too.  You are all amazing to learn all the music and songs by heart.”

Friend of Reading Phoenix 

If you didn’t manage to join us for this concert but would like to in the future, we have a packed diary for our summer term, with concerts in Worthing, Brighton, Wokingham, Hartley Wintney. Finally, we will be finishing on a high with our Come & Sing at Reading Minster in July. 

We hope to see you there!

Tour preview: Join us in Sussex, this May!

Last year we enjoyed a wonderful mini weekend tour to Kent, performing across The Garden of England.

In fact, we had such lovely weekend, singing and socialising with our fellow choir members, we knew it was something we had to do again this year! We are therefore delighted to announce that this May we are making a trip down to the south coast for a mini tour in Sussex.

With two concerts booked, preparations are well under way to organise another successful tour.

Our first concert on Saturday 6th May will take us to St. George’s Church, Worthing, where we will be singing a rich and varied concert programme in aid of Worthing Churches Homeless Project.

This fantastic charity has been working extremely hard over the past 16 years with a vision that “Worthing and surrounding area is a community where no local person needs to sleep out and everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential”.

“Started in 1991 by four local Christians who took soup, blankets and sleeping bags to the seafront to local homeless people. From this small beginning, Worthing Churches Homeless Projects was born. Today this West Sussex Christian charity has grown to 56 staff members and over 200 volunteers and provides a range of services, which offer opportunities to regain independence.
 
Worthing Churches Homeless Projects believe that everyone has the right to a home, regardless of the difficulties and issues they may face in their lives. We believe in showing those who need our help, that the wider community are there to support them and to offer hope for a better future.
 
The work undertaken by Worthing Churches Homeless Projects is crucial, people who live in our accommodation receive the specialist support they need to ensure their recovery. We empower homeless or insecurely housed individuals to achieve sustainable independent living.”
 
On Sunday 7th May, our second will be part of the fabulous Brighton Fringe, England’s largest arts festival.

“Brighton Fringe is England’s largest arts festival and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world. We set out to stimulate, educate and entertain a diverse range of people through a diverse range of art forms. And all this in an iconic city with unique cultural heritage.
 
Brighton Fringe takes place every May (5 May – 4 June 2017)  This vast celebration of all things creative has grown out of and is inspired by, home-grown talent. More than 50% of participants are based in Brighton & Hove. We are committed to helping the arts flourish and are completely open-access, which means anyone can put on a Brighton Fringe event. No selection criteria are imposed on participants. This enables both new and established performers to try out new work and take risks. We also help artists develop professionally through a range of workshops, mentoring and bursary programmes. A wide array of critically acclaimed shows and performers also appear at Brighton Fringe each year, drawn by the huge number of appreciative audience members who attend every year.”
 
If you are going to be in Sussex, the weekend of the 6th & 7th May we would love it if you would join us for one of our fantastic concerts. We are looking forward to announcing our full concert programme shortly but in the meantime, further information and how to purchase tickets can be found HERE.

A review of our Annual Concert

In February we enjoyed taking part in our Annual Concert at the beautiful Victorian Concert Hall in Reading Town Hall.

Alto, Carla Battelli has very kindly shared with us her review of the concert!

“My sixth Annual Concert, in the usual stunning Concert Hall, so rich and welcoming, and in a totally new musical formula, as we performed a big piece, Brahms’ Requiem, in the first half, followed by a choice of usual repertoire. But the roof was lifted once again! Our new conductor Chris Hann was precise and professional, as well as relaxed at the same time (!).
We all enjoyed the evening a lot, having with us wonderful soloists and two piano players! With a great lovely and very warming audience, and three friends of mine from Rome among them (it was my last Annual Concert with Phoenix, sob). Betta said “It has been so impressive, so professional, I cannot add a word, I just loved every bit of it! It reminded of my days singing with the Filarmonica Romana. Such nostalgia!”
I can only add that this concert will be in my memories for a long time!”

Concert venue sneak peek! Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Lower Basildon

This Saturday 25th March the choir is looking forward to performing a lovely rural church, tucked away in the heart of West Berkshire.

Saint Bartholomew’s Church dates to the 1280s’& is in the English style of flint & stone, local materials, a country church built by its people for its people. A fine brick tower was added in the 1730s’ & during the Victorian period the interior was re-furbished & the north aisle & porch added. It is listed Grade 1 by Historic England.

St. Bartholomew’s served its community for over 700 years but as the population moved up the hill to Upper Basildon where a new church was built, the old country church closed for regular worship in 1976; six services a year are now held here.

In the 1990s’ the church came into the care of The Churches Conservation Trust. The Trust have repaired & maintained the fabric & graveyard ensuring that St Bartholomew’s continues as a place of worship, an attractive historic church for its many visitors from home & overseas & a place where people can enjoy new experiences.

Jethro Tull, agricultural pioneer was baptised & finally buried here in 1741; as are the ‘great & the good’ from nearby Basildon House, the Sykes, Morrison’s & Ferdinando’s.

St Bartholomew’s is supported by a small & proactive group of ‘Friends’. Their aim is to organise an active calendar of activities to generate funds that ensure that St. Bartholomew’s is always a welcoming & attractive environment for worship, visitors & events & that it will be here to play a role within its community in future years.

The proceeds from this concert will contribute toward enabling the church to have a ‘voice’ again through the refurbishment of our striking clock & for repair to the ancient chancel door.

We would be delighted if you can join us for what is set to be a fabulous concert with a varied programme from Rachmaninov to Bob Chilcott! The concert starts at 7.30pm and full details, including ticket information can be found HERE

Join us at our Annual Concert for Brahms’ Requiem!

Choir member Carla Battelli talks about our upcoming Annual Concert.

“Reading Phoenix Choir is thrilled to organise once again its Annual Concert at Reading’s Town Hall, performing Brahms Deutsches Requiem alongside a selection of pieces from our repertoire, sung from memory, as it is in the tradition of our normal concerts.

This will be the choir’s third performance of Brahms’ Requiem, having sung it last year, but this particular work is such a rich collection of lovely music that preparing for it again has been a great adventure. We need to sustain a shifting singing style, with a focus on a variety of emotions, some focused on the fragile human condition, where the music requires a sustained piano part, making it very deep and moving (I have tears in my eyes at this point), while some other passages are invigorating and full of enthusiasm, requiring so much energy and full lung power that the end of the movement leaves me filled with a feeling of euphoria… The extra oxygen flowing through my blood maybe? You wouldn’t think a “Requiem” could be so thrilling, but this one definitely is and we will do our best to share its greatness with the public as best as we can. An experience not to be missed!”

We are busy preparing for our performance of Brahms’ Requiem and are delighted to share this short snippet with you:

 

For further details on our Annual Concert at Reading Town Hall, Saturday 25th February and to purchase tickets, please CLICK HERE.

Meet our Annual Concert Soloists

We are gearing for our Annual Concert, the highlight of our concert season and thought now would be a great opportunity to introduce you to our concert soloists, who will be performing Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem alongside the choir.

For full details on our Annual Concert, this February, Saturday 28th at 7.30pm at Reading’s beautiful Victorian Concert Hall and to purchase tickets, please CLICK HERE.

Soprano – Jessica Broad

Jessica Broad, soprano, graduated with BMus Hons and a Postgraduate Diploma in Opera Studies from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She now lives in London and continues her studies with Jenny Dakin.

Jessica is a regular performer on the opera and oratorio platform. She sings regularly with The Royal Opera House Chorus, English National Opera and Welsh National Opera. She has most recently been performing Oedipe with the Royal Opera House Chorus. Other recent opera chorus work has included: The Force of Destiny and Queen of Spades with English National Opera and Le Nozze di Figaro with The Royal Opera House. Her recent operatic roles have included: Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust; Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen and The Countess in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She has sung chorus in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges (for which she understudied the role of Nicolette) and Prokofiev’s War and Peace.

Jessica is a founding member and manager of the professional vocal ensemble Dieci Voices. They perform extensively as an ensemble and also provide soloists for concerts and events. www.diecivoices.com

Future oratorio work includes: Bach’s St John Passion, Haydn Nelson Mass, Faure Requiem and Carr Requiem for an Angel. She will also be performing with Dieci Voices and recital partner Peter Yardley Jones. Please see her website for further details -www.jessicabroad.co.uk

Baritone – Robert Garland

Baritone Robert Garland is studying on the Opera Course at the Royal Academy of Music with Mark Wildman and Audrey Hyland where he also completed his Master of Arts. He is also a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he studied with Janet Price. During his time at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Robert was a Ley Clerk at Llandaff Cathedral and also sang with Classical Brit Award Winning Choir ‘Only Men Aloud!’.

Since moving to London Robert’s operatic roles include Bartolo in the Royal Academy of Music’s production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figao, Talbot in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. He has also covered the role of Papageno for Nevill Holt’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflote. He has performed the roles of Demitrius from Britten’s A Midsummer Nights Dream and Nardo from Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera for the Royal Academy of Music’s Postgraduate Opera Scenes. Recent professional chorus work has included singing for Opera Holland Park’s Iris (Mascagani) and Grange Park Opera’s Peter Grimes (Britten), Pikovaya dama (Tchaikovsky), La Boheme (Puccini) and Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saens).

Robert has also worked with Northern Ireland Opera for Macbeth (Verdi) and Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner). He has sung in numerous oratorio performances most notably including; Brahms’s Requiem, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Vaughan-Williams’s Five Mystical Songs.

He is sponsored by the Josephine Baker Trust and his studies are generously supported by the Winship Foundation, the Split Infinitive Trust and the Mario Lanza Foundation.

Piano – Somi Kim

South Korean born New Zealand pianist, Somi Kim graduated from the Royal Academy of Music last year with an Advanced Diploma in Performance, receiving the HRH Princess Alice the Duchess of Gloucester’s Prize for exemplary studentship. In 2015, Somi gained her Master of Arts with Distinction, receiving a DipRAM and the Christian Carpenter Prize for the Best Recital. Somi is the winner of the Gerald Moore Award for Accompanists, AESS Patricia Routledge National English Song Accompanist Prize, Bromsgrove International Musicians Competition Accompanist Prize, Vivian Langrish Memorial Trust Prize, Thomas Art of Song Accompanist Prize, Major van Someron-Godfery Prize for Accompanists and the Concordia Serena Nevill Prize. Somi received the 6th Pettman/Royal Over-Seas League Arts International Scholarship in 2013 and had her debut with Chamber Music New Zealand last year.

Somi is sought after as a chamber musician, song accompanist and répétiteur. She is an artist for the Kirckman Concert Society, Park Lane Group, Concordia Foundation and is a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Somi is a scholar on the Samling Artist Programme and Georg Solti Accademia and is a staff pianist at the International Holland Music Sessions. In recital, Somi’s recent and future appearances include Het

Concertgebouw, Slovak Philharmonic, Wigmore Hall, St. John’s Smith Square, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall and the Edinburgh Fringe, Ryedale, Kings Lynn and Oxford Lieder Festivals.

Piano – Corrado Valvo

Sicilian pianist Corrado Valvo obtained a Bachelor’s degree in piano at the Musical Institute Vincenzo Bellini in Catania with Maestro Corrado Ratto, and his Masters at the Conservatory Dall’Abaco in Verona under the guidance of Maestro Michela Forgione. Corrado has dedicated his study in orchestral conducting under the guidance of Maestro Marco Boemi. He worked in production of Puccini’s La Boheme with the Theatre of Spoleto and undertook a tour of Japan earlier this year. As a soloist, he is a laureate many piano competitions including the Competition of Barcelona, Vincenzo Bellini of Milo, G. De Vincenzi, Tuttarte of Nicolosi, Benedetto Albanese of Caccamo, Lions City of Viterbo. He received the “Lucio Stefano D’agata” prize of Acireale, and the Nuova Coppa Pianisti of Osimo.

He made his debut with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Lugansk in 2012, gaining critical acclaim. Corrado has performed at the Teatro Garibaldi of Enna, Philharmonic Theatre in Lugansk, Castello Ursino in Catania, the Modern Art Park La Verde-La Malfa of Catania, Cultural Centre of EXPO Pedara (CT), Nuovo Teatro Fenice in Osimo (AN), Montanari Hall of the Literary Society and the Camozzini Palace in Verona, Hall of the Ballet of the GAM in Milan, Teatro Nazionale of Opera in Rome, Sala Pegasus of Spoleto (PE) and Teatro Lirico G. Menotti of Spoleto (PE).

In April 2016 he was admitted to the George Solti Academy for repetiteurs and conductors. Here he is studying under renowned tutors such as Richard Bonynge, Pamela Bullock, James Vaughan and Jonathan Papp. He is also studying conducting technique at Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Rome with the M° Maurizio Ciampi.

A warm welcome to our new Musical Director

We are delighted to announce the appointment of their new musical director for the start of 2017, Christopher Hann.

A highly accomplished choral conductor, Christopher currently works with a variety of Berkshire-based choirs, including Berkshire Youth Choirs. In addition to his conducting, Christopher is in great demand as a professional consort singer.

Commenting on his new role, Chris said:

“Reading Phoenix is a choir that I have admired and am delighted to be beginning my role as Musical Director at the beginning of the New Year. I look forward to working with the choir and joining them on a new chapter of their musical journey.”

The choir is looking forward to our first concert with Christopher on Saturday 28th January at St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford where they will celebrating 350 years since the birth of Antonio Lotti. The concert starts at 7.30pm and tickets (£10 per person) can be purchased at the door. Please CLICK HERE for further details 

This February, the choir will be performing Brahms Requiem and a selection of exciting, new repertoire at our Annual Concert on Saturday 25th February, 7.30pm at Reading Concert Hall. Tickets at from £6.00 and can be purchased HERE.

We look forward to welcoming you to our first concerts of the year and sharing with you, our repertoire we have been working on with Christopher.

Singing carols for The Newbury & Thatcham Hospital Rosemay Appeal

This Saturday, the 3rd December we invite you to join us for a carol concert at St. Nicolas Church, Newbury at 6pm in support of the Newbury & Thatcham Hospital Rosemary Appeal.

The Rosemary Appeal is raising funds for a new chemotherapy and kidney dialysis ward at Newbury hospital. At the moment patients needing these facilities who live in Newbury have to travel to Basingstoke, Reading or Oxford. To learn more about this wonderful charity and the work they are doing, visit their website.

We are delighted to be supporting such a wonderful cause and hope you can join us this Saturday to hear some fabulous carols. Full details of the concert can be found here.

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Reading Phoenix Choir Open Rehearsal

Monday 9th January, 7.45pm – 9.55pm
South Lake Primary School, Campbell Road, Woodley, RG5 3NA

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Wash away the Monday blues with an evening of singing at our first open rehearsal of 2017 with new Musical Director, Christopher Hann.

A mixed voice choir made up of approx. 50 singers from across Berkshire, North Hampshire, Surrey, and Oxfordshire, now in its 49th season, the Reading Phoenix Choir is one of the country’s finest amateur choirs and performs a varied repertoire, mostly a cappella and from memory to the highest standards. Representing Reading throughout the country and abroad the choir performs approximately 15 concerts per year raising thousands of pounds for charity. The choir tours often, most recently to Cork and Kent, and has enjoyed taking part major competitions.

We are currently welcoming all voice parts to the choir, by audition but in particular Altos and Tenors.

Why our members love singing with The Reading Phoenix Choir:

“Having just sent the last of my children off to university and decided that instead of sitting in the audience at concerts it was my turn to get back on the stage, my next decision was which choir? My priorities were quality and variety. The Phoenix choir appeared to me to fill these qualities. One rehearsal and I was hooked, the ‘buzz’ of group singing, loads of new tunes going round in my head. I very quickly realised another of the Phoenix’s qualities –friendliness.”

If you are interested in joining us for our next open rehearsal, please contact our Choir Secretary Rebecca Ranson via secretary@readingphoenixchoir.com 

We look forward to welcoming you to Reading Phoenix Choir!

Chadlington concert with the Male Voice Choir of Voronezh

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed the Male Voice Choir of Voronezh, Russia, last weekend when they joined us in a concert in the Oxfordshire village of Chadlington.

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Phoenix has had a long association with Vorenzh, first hosting the university choir in 1989. We then made a return visit to Russia in Easter 1990, performing in Moscow, St Petersburg and Voronezh, the most memorable concert being in the latter’s opera house where we had a two thousand strong standing ovation.

A number of us had kept in close contact with our Russian friends resulting in the visit of last week. They were here to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church in the UK and to remember the life of Anthony of Sourozh They started the week in Winchester with performances in Gosport, Portsmouth, Oxford and London. The last three days were spent with us.

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A joint concert in Chadlington, Oxfordshire, featured both choirs singing Bogoroditze Devo from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and a John Rutter arrangement of Down By the Riverside. The powerful male voice sound, including a bass Octavist who could sing an octave lower than your traditional bass, felt like a giant wave as we reached the climax of the Bogoroditze.

“It was worth travelling the great distance to hear both the Reading Phoenix and the Voronezh Male Voice Choir at St Nicholas Church, Chadlington. Hearing a Russian choir again brought back fond memories from the 50s and 60s when I used to go to hear Russian music performed at the Royal Albert Hall and other venues in the capital. The concert gave us two distinct sides of the musical sphere and was a very moving experience and will live long in my memory.I hope the bonds of friendship between the two choirs will continue for many years to come. Memo to Voronezh Choir – Haste he back.”

Leslie Townsend -Friend of Phoenix.

Members of choir hosted the group and the following day was spent in Windsor followed by a concert shared with Occasion Singers in St Mark’s Church Binfield and finally a lunchtime concert in Reading Minster on Monday featuring their extensive repertoire of sacred, classical, folk and popular music. My favourites were The Wide Russian Steppes, Unsaddle the Horses, Lads and a beautiful arrangement of the Beatle’s Yesterday. They raised £250 for the Minster Organ Fund.

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Then it was a couple of hours of shopping before attending our weekly rehearsal. Hopefully, we will be making a return visit in Spring 2018 with concerts in Petersburg, Moscow and Voronezh. I can’t wait!

Gill Leishman – Reading Phoenix Chairman

A visit from Voronezh Male Voice Choir

Back in 1990, Reading Phoenix Choir flew to Helsinki and then travelled by train to Russia. We gave concerts in Leningrad, Moscow and most memorably in Voronezh, when the Opera House was packed to more-than-capacity. We have never had louder or longer applause, and quickly established a strong link with the wonderful people of Voronezh.

We are therefore very excited to welcome Voronezh Male Voice Choir to the UK this October.

Under their chief conductor Tatyana Izhogina the choir will be visiting the South of England to celebrate the life of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (1914-2003). This well-known spiritual leader came from the family of the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. In the 1920s his family emigrated to France where he later worked with the French Resistance.

After the Second World War he took a monastic vow and in 1947 was sent to Britain to serve the church in London. During fifty years of dedicated service to the Russian Orthodox Church he left a significant memory in the hearts of many nations as a priest who spoke five languages and as a theologian, philosopher and spiritual leader.

As part of this tour, the choir will give concerts in Gosport, Winchester and London. On Saturday 15th October, they come together with Reading Phoenix Choir for a joint concert in Chadlington, Oxfordshire.

Their programme with range from inspirational sacred music by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and other Russian and Ukrainian composers, to vibrant folklore pieces.

 

 

Welcoming Libby Burgess as Reading Phoenix Choir guest conductor

Reading Phoenix Choir are delighted to welcome Libby Burgess as guest conductor for the start of our 2016/17 season.

Libby joins the choir for the current Autumn/Winter term and has already enjoyed success at our first concert of the season on the 24th September, St. Laurence’s Church, Reading.

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Libby primarily works with singers – as pianist, vocal coach and conductor and has worked with choirs ranging from the BBC Singers to the King’s Consort. CLICK HERE to read Libby’s full biography.

Fans of Reading Phoenix Choir can look forward to hearing Libby conduct the choir at their next concert on 15th October, 2016, St Nicholas Church, Chadlington. 

Further details are available via the choir’s website at www.readingphoenixchoir.com/concert/chadlington/

Reading Phoenix Choir to tour Kent

This June, Reading Phoenix Choir will travel to Kent for a weekend festival of music making. Performing at various locations across the county, the choir’s family friendly programme will introduce audience members to our unique choral style singing a selection of songs from ‘madrigals to jazz’ from memory and mostly a capella.

This weekend celebrates the end of the choir’s singing season and will include the final performances with Musical Director, David Crown who leaves the choir in July after six successful years.

David Crown, says:

“We are excited to be performing in a number of venues across Kent. The variety of locations and audiences for whom we will perform demonstrates the choir’s adaptability and compliments the diversity of our repertoire – highlighting why we are one of the top amateur choir’s in the country.’

The choir will be visiting Kent from 10-12 June 2016 and will be performing at the following locations:

  • 10 June, 7.30pm – St George’s Church, Church Street, Gravesend DA11 0DJ
  • 11 June, 12pm – Wealden Times Midsummer Fair, Hole Park, Rolvenden TN17 4JB
  • 11 June, 7.30pm – All Saints Church, Mill Street, Maidstone ME15 6YE
  • 12 June, 2pm – Whitstable Funday Sunday, Marine Parade, Whitstable CT5 2BE

Tickets are available via the choir’s website at www.readingphoenixchoir.com/kent.

Search for a new MD commences

Reading Phoenix Choir (RPC) has begun its search for a new music director to replace David Crown, who is leaving after six very successful years to succeed Nicholas Cleobury as music director of Oxford Bach Choir.

Since his appointment in spring 2010, David has directed the choir in dozens of concerts, led RPC on tours of Yorkshire, Cardiff and Cork, and guided the choir in new initiatives including workshops with young choirs, the carol service in Reading Minster and the annual Come and Sing.

David commented:

Reading Phoenix Choir is without doubt one of the finest amateur choirs in the UK and I am extremely sad to be leaving them after six exciting and stimulating years. They are a wonderfully friendly group of hard working singers, performing a wide range of repertoire to universal acclaim. I cannot say how much I have enjoyed my time at the helm of this tremendous group.

Gill Leishman, chair of RPC added:

The choir has benefited enormously from David’s appointment as our music director six years ago. Although we are sad to see him go, we are looking forward to the next stage of the journey and are excited by the idea of a new leader to continue the development of this amazing choir.

Applications are invited from accomplished conductors with a strong track record in directing adult mixed-voice choirs. They will be inspiring and energetic, engaging and committed, and excited by the prospect of leading this excellent group of singers.

The full job description can be downloaded here. The closing date for applications is Monday 23 May. Auditions and interviews will be held in June and July.

For further information about RPC, visit www.readingphoenixchoir.com. Questions regarding the vacancy can be sent to RPCapplications@gmail.com.

Star soloists join Reading Phoenix Choir for Annual Concert

Choir breaks from tradition to perform Faure’s Requiem

After 48 singing seasons, Reading Phoenix Choir makes a break from the tradition of singing a selection of songs from ‘ madrigals to jazz’ to perform Faure’s Requiem as part of their Annual Concert. This concert is the celebratory event of the choir’s singing season. This year the choir will be joined by up and coming star soloists Morgan Pearse (Baritone) and Anna Sideris (Soprano), and accompanied by Organist Christopher Cromar.

The choir’s musical director, David Crown, says: “Following the success of singing ‘works’ at the choir’s annual Come and Sing events we have been encouraged to learn and perform Faure’s Requiem. We are always looking to try new things and to challenge ourselves, and have enjoyed this opportunity to explore a different area of musical history. It has been an exciting journey. We are now really looking forward to sharing our musical adventures with our Annual Concert audience.

Reading Phoenix Choir, one of the UK’s finest amateur choirs, was established in 1969. Its first performance was at the Morris Motors Music Festival in Oxford and it has since performed at venues worldwide, including the Royal Albert Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and Reading’s Madejski Stadium as part of the London Olympic 2012 festivities. The choir competed at the prestigious Cork International Choral Festival 2015 in Ireland in May 2015 and at Christmas won a national competition to be featured on Classic FM’s Drive.

The choir’s Annual Concert takes place on Saturday 6 February at 7.30pm, at the Concert Hall, The Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading RG1 1QH. Tickets are available herehere and range from £9.50 to £19.50 (£6 for under 16s).

Anna Sideris – Soprano
Anna is studying on the Advanced Opera Programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she works with Janice Chapman. While studying for her undergraduate degree at Oxford University Anna sang in masterclasses with eminent singers, such as Renee Fleming, Toby Spence and Ann Murray. She obtained her Masters from the Royal Academy of Music, where she was generously supported by the Kohn Foundation, the Josephine Baker Trust and Help Musicians UK; and performed the following roles in scenes performances: Fiordiligi Cosi Fan Tutte (Mozart), Ellen Peter Grimes (Britten) and Ariane Ariane et Barbe-Bleue (Dukas)

Anna has recorded two Fauré songs for BBC Radio 3 Music Matters, and performed Cinq Melodies de Venise (Fauré) at Kings Place, London. Recent concerts include Boulez Improvisations sur Mallarmé with the Manon Ensemble for Aldeburgh festival, Strauss Vier letzte lieder with the Oxford Millennium Orchestra, Handel Messiah and Mozart Mass in C performed at St John’s Smith Square. Anna has been working for the charity Live Music Now! since November 2014.

Anna was an Alvarez Young Artist for Garsington Opera in the 2015 season, playing Resi Intermezzo (Strauss) and 1st Fairy A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn). Other operatic experience includes Lucy The Telephone (Menotti) for Salon Opera, Tamiri (cover) in Il Re Pastore (Mozart) for New Chamber Opera, Monica in The Medium (Menotti) & Eurydice in Orfeus and Eurydice (Gluck) for New Chamber Opera Studio. Anna has been involved in education projects for Glyndebounre Opera and Garsington Opera.

Morgan Pearse – Baritone

During the 2014/15 season Morgan joined Houston Grand Opera Studio where his roles included Papageno (The Magic Flute), Yamadori (Madame Butterfly), Anthony (Sweeney Todd) and the cover of Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte). He went on to perform Figaro in Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles for Wolftrap Opera in Virginia.

This season Morgan returns to the UK and to English National Opera taking the role of Figaro (Barber of Seville) and appears at Wigmore Hall.

In 2013 Morgan was selected by YCAT and won the Gold Medal at the Royal Over-Seas League Competition. He subsequently took the title role in Owen Wingrave with Sydney Chamber Opera and made his debut with English National Opera as Pompeo (Benvenuto Cellini).

Born in 1988, Morgan Pearse studied at the Sydney Conservatorium & University and the Royal College of Music International Opera School, where he won the prestigious Lies Askonas Prize. He was selected by YCAT in 2013.

Christopher Cromar – Organist
Christopher Cromar was born in Scotland and was educated at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Chetham’s School of Music, the Conservatoire Superieur de Paris. He now works extensively as a conductor, pianist and organist on the concert platform and as a repetiteur and vocal coach for leading opera companies, choirs (including the BBC Singers and Halle Choir) and distinguished soloists. He regularly serves the vocal and opera faculties of several UK conservatoires.

Christopher has also pursued a career as a concert organist giving many recitals in Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, King’s College, Cambridge, Notre Dame and in Germany, Holland, Greece and the USA.

As a pianist he has performed extensively throughout Europe and made his debut at London’s Barbican Centre in 2006.

Christopher has broadcast on BBC TV and radio, Channel 4 TV and Radio France and he features on several CD recordings. A disc of music by Jonathan Dove on the Naxos label was released in June 2011.