Our Final QuaranTune

Our final QuaranTune is Evening Hymn by Henry Balfour Gardiner. It has been chosen by Howard who sings tenor in choir.

Evening Hymn is a classic of English choral music. Written in 1908, it is Balfour Gardiner’s most well known piece in which he sets the hymn Te Lucis Ante Terminum for choir and organ.

This recording was made by an audience member at a performance by the choir at Douai Abbey in 2013 and gives the viewer the impression they are attending the concert live.

A winning but sleepy QuaranTune

Our 11th QuaranTune is Sleep by American composer Eric Whitacre. This was chosen by soprano Gill, who recalls choir winning the British Heart Foundation’s Scratch Choral Challenge and performing it at the Royal Albert Hall.

The lyrics are by the poet Charles Anthony Silvestri.

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon

Upon my pillow safe in bed
A thousand pictures fill my head
I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight
And yet my limbs seem made of lead

If there are noises in the night
A frightening shadow, flickering light
As I surrender unto sleep
Where clouds of dream give second sight

What dreams may come both dark and deep
On flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep (Dark and Deep)
Sleep (Sleep)

This recording comes from the choir’s 40th anniversary CD.

A truly golden QuaranTune

This week’s QuaranTune has been chosen by regular audience member, Emily. Her pick is Golden Day by Gerson Batista.

Golden Day was the winner of our inaugural Walter Hussey Composition Competition and was premiered during our 50th season at a concert in Reading Concert Hall, with Portuguese composer Batista in attendance.

That performance also won the Performance of the Year at Reading Cultural Awards 2019.

This version was recorded back in February and is available to stream or buy from all the usual channels (iTunes, Spotify).

A QuaranTune that builds to a thrilling climax

Second soprano Fiona introduces this week’s QuaranTune – Song for Athene by John Tavener.

Originally commissioned by the BBC in 1993 this piece was written by John Tavener as a tribute to a friend killed in a cycling accident. It is perhaps more famously known for being performed by Westminster Abbey Choir for Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.

The words are drawn from a combination of the Orthodox funeral service and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

This version was recorded by Reading Phoenix Choir at a concert in Wells-next-the-Sea in June 2011.

A QuaranTune recorded for our Golden Phoenix album

In this QuaranTune, soprano Jenny introduces a piece from Howells’ Requiem that became a feature of the choir’s repertoire thanks to Musical Director Christopher Hann’s keen interest in Howell’s music – Requiem Aeternam (1).

Herbert Howells was an English composer, organist, and teacher, most famous for his large output of Anglican church music. Despite writing this Requiem in 1932/3 it was not published until the 1980s. It is written for an unaccompanied double choir and is said to be inspired by the light shining through the East window of Gloucester Cathedral which is particularly relevant to the Requiem Aeternam.

The words are as follows:

Requiem aeternam dona eis. Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.

Rest eternal grant unto them. And may light perpetual shine upon them. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord.

This recording was made for our Golden Phoenix album as part of our 50th season celebrations. It can purchased via Amazon or iTunes, and streamed on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, Pandora, Shazam and many others.

 

A QuaranTune that keeps returning to choir’s repertoire

This week’s QuarantTune has been chosen by long-standing soprano Rosie. She has picked Sergei Rachmaninov’s Bororoditse Devo, which has made many appearances in concerts over the years.

This glorious piece forms part of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil. It premiered on 23 March 1915 in Moscow and consists of settings of texts taken from the Russian Orthodox all-night vigil ceremony. It has been praised as Rachmaninov’s finest achievement. It was one of Rachmaninov’s two favorite compositions along with The Bells, and the composer requested that its fifth movement (Nunc Dimittis) be sung at his funeral.

The text can be translated as follows:

Bogoróditse Dyévo, ráduisya, Blagodátnaya Maríye, Gospód s tobóyu.
Blagoslovyéna ty v zhenákh, i blagoslovyén plod chryéva tvoyevó, yáko Spása rodilá yesí dush náshikh.

Rejoice, virgin mother of God, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, for you have borne the Savior of our souls.

This performance was recorded at the Iglesia de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Melgar de Fernamental, Spain in April 2018.

Another QuaranTune with a romantic connection

This week, 2nd soprano Heidi introduces Nunc Dimittis by Gustav Holst.

This is one of her favourite pieces in our current repertoire and she has fond memories of singing it with current and former members at a very special occasion.

Nunc Dimittis was written for Westminster Cathedral Choir and was first performed by them in 1915.

The words can be translated as follows:

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum. Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat, nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorem.
Amen.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen: thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.

A virtual concert to round off our 51st season

On Saturday 11 July, we should have been celebrating the end of our 51st season by performing a joint concert in Swindon with Aldbourne Band.

Instead, we have pulled together a selection of pieces, recorded by ourselves and others. These include some choir favourites, along with new items that you can look forward to hearing next season.

Following this you can hear a taste of what Aldbourne Band had in store for you with a set of six of their favourite pieces. We finish with the joint finale that we had hoped to perform alongside Aldbourne Band.

You can view this virtual concert below, or on YouTube.

The programme is as follows:

Reading Phoenix Choir

  • Loquebantur Variis, Thomas Tallis
  • Requiem Aeternam, Herbert Howells
  • Behold O God our Defender, John Scott
  • Hymn to the Creator of Light, John Rutter
  • Lux Aurumque, Eric Whitacre
  • Flame, Ben Parry
  • Three Shakespeare Songs: No. 2, The Cloud-Capp’d Towers, Vaughan Williams
  • Danny Boy, trad arr. Rathbone
  • The Battle of Jericho, trad arr. Hogan
  • Chili Con Carne, Anders Endenroth

Aldbourne Band

  • Pavane (Ravel)
  • Montagues and Capulets (Prokofiev)
  • Lark in the Clear Air
  • West Country Fantasy
  • The Lost Chord
  • The Dirty Duck

Joint Finale

  • Gloria: I. Allegro vivace, John Rutter

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A QuaranTune that evokes memories of York Minster

Our fifth QuaranTune has been selected by former member Dan. He has chosen Os Justi by Anton Bruckner, a favourite of many members of the choir.

For Dan, it brings back special memories of both his wedding and of singing in York Minster.

Os Justi is a sacred motet that was composed in 1879. The words and translation are as follows:

Os justi meditabitur sapientiam: et lingua ejus loquetur judicium.
Lex Dei ejus in corde ipsius: et non supplantabuntur gressus ejus. Alleluia.
Inveni David servum meum, oleo sancto meo unxi eum. Alleluia.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.
The law of his God is in his heart: and his feet do not falter. Alleluia.
I have found David, my servant; I have anointed him with my holy oil. Alleluia.

A QuaranTune with a German Connection

Second alto, Edna, introduces our fourth QuaranTune, AbenLied by Josef Rheinberger. Did hearing us sing in her native German encourage her to join us?

Abendlied (Evening song), is a sacred motet for a six-part mixed choir (SSATTB). It is regarded as Rheinberger’s best-known sacred composition, with the first version written in 1855 when he was just 15.

The original text and a translation are as follows:

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget.

Bide with us, for evening shadows darken, and the day will soon be over.

This live recording was made at Reading Town Hall in May 2015.

A surprising QuaranTune choice

This third QuaranTune has been picked by Alice, one of our first sopranos. She has chosen If Ye Love Me by English composer Thomas Tallis, despite it being a piece that only features our tenors and basses!

If Ye Love Me is a four-part setting of a passage from the Gospel of John. It was first published in 1565 during the reign of Elizabeth I. The lyrics are as follows:

If ye love me
Keep my commandments
And I will pray the Father
And he shall give you another comforter
That he may ‘bide with you forever
E’en the spirit of truth

This gorgeous recording was made live at our concert at St Clement Danes, London in January 2014.

Our second QuaranTune is a popular choice

Our second QuranTune is Soneto de la Noche by Morten Lauridsen.

Pablo Neruda’s stunning love poem provides the inspiration for this passionate second movement of Lauridsen’s song cycle, Nocturnes.

It was a popular choice, suggested by both bass Phil and soprano Helen. The video starts with them sharing their written introductions and memories of performing this beautiful piece and is followed by a translation of the Spanish words.

This recording was filmed at Santuario de la Peregrina, Sahagún during our tour to Spain in April 2018.

Welcome to our first Virtual Concert

On Saturday 13 June, we were due to be performing a Joint concert in Twyford with Jewel Tones.

Instead, we invite you to join us for a programme of recordings (by a wide range of choirs) of the pieces that would have been performed by the two choirs at this concert.

You can view this below, or on YouTube.

The programme is as follows:

RPC

  • Libera Nos – Sheppard
  • Alleluia Ascendit Deus – Byrd
  • God be in My Head – Rutter
  • Coelos Ascendit Hodie – Stanford
  • Nunc Dimittis – Holst
  • O Oriens – McDowall
  • The Music of Stillness – Hagenberg
  • Wide Open Spaces – Quartel
  • The Bare Necessities – Gilkyson, arr Hare

Jewel Tones

  • Hallelujah, Get happy – arr Gilpin
  • Astonishing from Little Women – arr Brymer
  • The wayfaring stranger – arr Gilpin
  • Flying free – Don Besig

Joint Piece

  • Sing – Pentatonix, arr. Brymer

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Current Chair Lorna shares her QuaranTune

Our first QuranTune is O Magnum Mysterium by Spanish Renaissance composer Cristobal de Morales. It is introduced by Lorna, the current Chair of the choir.

A translation of the lyrics is as follows:

O great mystery and wonderful sacrament that even the animals saw the new-born Lord lying in a manger.
Blessed Virgin, whose womb was worthy to bear our Lord Christ.
Lord, I heard your speech and was afraid: I considered your works, and became frightened as if I am between two beasts.

This recording was filmed at Santuario de la Peregrina, Sahagún during our tour to Spain in April 2018.

Celebrating 50 Golden Years

On 17th September 2018 Reading Phoenix Choir launch their 50th season and embark on a year full of musical events and activities.

To kick start celebrations for their 50th year and release the first track of the new CD Golden Phoenix, the choir invites past members to join them at this rehearsal on 17th September. This rehearsal will be a preview of the 50th season finale, the Gala concert in July 2019, when members and ex-members from the choir’s 50 year history will join together again. This Gala concert at the Great Hall, University of Reading, will include performances by present Phoenicians, former members and guest conductors to perform the top rated songs from the repertoire of the last 50 years.

Chris Hann, Musical Director says:

‘I am hugely excited about our 50th season. Not only does it give us the opportunity to reflect upon the many wonderful achievements of the choir over the past 50 years and re-connect with ex members, but also to look forward to what promises to be a very bright and exciting future.’

Over the course of the year the choir will also be celebrating its history of charitable giving, community involvement and first class music making by partnering with a number of different charities, creating a collaborative artwork with audience members, hosting a Come and Sing of Handel’s Messiah, and performing the winning piece from the inaugural Walter Hussey Composition Competition. This will take place at the Annual Concert in March 2019, at which Head Judge Kerry Andrew and her alt-folk group You Are Wolf will perform. Additionally further CD tracks will be released throughout the year.

The choir invites the people of Reading to join in our celebrations and help us gather as much Reading Phoenix Choir memorabilia, photographs, news stories and personal memories as possible to celebrate this milestone. This will be collated on our 50th anniversary website www.rpc50.com, live from 17th September.

For more information on the programme of events and activities for the 50th season join our mailing list at www.rpc50.com/email or for concert details visit www.readingphoenixchoir.com/concerts.

For interviews and more information contact Alice Watson on publicity@readingphoenixchoir.com.