Welcome to Romsey Choral Society
The choir has now completed and celebrated our 40th season! And what a year it has been.
We've survived a pandemic and come back to present a fantastic concert in Romsey Abbey on Saturday 2nd July with the Waverley Singers, the City of Southampton orchestra and 3 brilliant soloists.
The Dream of Gerontius is a classic work by Sir Edward Elgar and a favourite for many singers and audiences. We are fortunate to have a review from Martin Seymour, the Director of music at Romsey Abbey.
Dream of Gerontius review
On Saturday July 2nd Romsey Choral Society and the Waverley Singers performed the well known work ‘The Dream of Gerontius’ by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar. Elgar is celebrated for his Pomp and Circumstance marches at the Last Night of the Proms and for the Enigma Variations, which brought him to public acclaim and acceptance in his forties. Being a self-taught composer and a Roman Catholic, he was treated with some suspicion by Victorian society. Indeed, the text of this oratorio is a poem by Cardinal John Henry Newman which sets out the journey into death and redemption of a sinner; a text not wholly liked by the Anglican establishment at the time.
Nonetheless, it seemed very fitting to sing such a now loved and monumental piece in Romsey Abbey which has seen worship occurring in the building for over 900 years. Richard Pearce ably conducted the combined choirs and orchestra which rehearsed together on the afternoon of the concert. It is hard to rehearse in enough depth in such a compacted time so although the players’ intonation was generally very good the orchestra felt a bit tentative in the quieter opening section until it had found its voice. No insecurity was felt, however, by the tenor Christopher Bowen singing the part of Gerontius. With the opening line of ‘Jesu Maria - I am near to death’ we were immediately transfixed by a voice full of colour, precision and immersion into the words. This is clearly a role he has sung many times before and we benefited from that. The chorus’ attention to detail was also evident with regards to musical articulation and delivering the text with only very occasional slips of clarity. With the requirement to sing over such a large orchestra and occasional additional organ part (ably played by Richard McVeigh the Abbey’s Assistant Director of Music) the chorus did very well overall. Only in the second half in the ‘Demons’ section did one feel greater numbers of singers were required to balance the orchestra but the limitations of the staging prevented this.
Michael Pearce (bass-baritone) sang with a clear middle and lower register and made a convincing role as the Priest sending Gerontius into the other world, which concluded part one of the concert. Like Christopher Bowen, Jessica Gillingwater sang with great clarity and richness in the role of the Angel with both their parts interacting throughout part two of the concert leading to a beautiful ending with the Choir of Angelicals singing ‘Praise to the Holiest, Amen’.
We felt that we had been on an intimate journey from apprehension and remorse to peace and the full audience showed their generous appreciation for what had been a wonderful occasion. Congratulations should go to Richard Pearce not only for the standard of performance but for the choice of a work that was so fitting for the gorgeous acoustic of the Abbey.
Martin Seymour July 2022
Romsey Choral Society
Welcome to Romsey Choral Society which is recognised as one of the best choirs in Southern England. Please have a look around this site to discover more about the choir. The season's repertoire is listed in the "Concerts" page. For our latest choir newsletter click here.
Rehearsals usually take place every Tuesday at 7.30pm at the Romsey Methodist Church, The Hundred, Romsey, SO51 8BZ .
We have now resumed rehearsals in the Romsey Methodist church. We are completely committed to keeping all our members as safe as possible and request that all members follow these simple steps:
During the rehearsals, the chairs are still spaced apart and the church is well ventilated.
Over the past year and a half, we have taken the required steps for any face to face rehearsals and for a concert performance without any adverse incidents.
Thank you to all the members who have followed instructions, been careful and kept us all safe.
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Click below to see and hear a short YouTube excerpt from Visions of Heaven - Saturday 28th March 2015
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We are singing again!
It's not quite back to normal yet after the covid pandemic, which meant a whole host of safety measures, but we are nearly there.
And so we are delighted to have been able to present our latest concert in Romsey Abbey with the Waverley Singers and the City of Southampton orchestra.
As ever, we have had 3 fabulous soloists each with a fantastic voice and character. But there was a particular link with one - Michael Pearce is the father of our Musical Director, Richard Pearce.
Quite an unusual event for us but a very welcome and successful one!
We now break for the summer and meet again on Tuesday 6th September at 7.30pm - 9.30pm in our usual rehearsal venue - Romsey Methodist church.
If you have been inspired and would like to join us in September - go to the "Join us" tab at the top of the page and let us know. The membership e-mail address goes through to Sarah Andrews, our Chair and first point of contact for new members.
Look forward to hearing from you!
RCS Admin Secretary
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Choir members can access a members page for membership information plus reports from the committee.
Registered Charity: 282827
We are delighted to have The Rt. Hon. The Countess Mountbatten of Burma as our President.