About the Sinfonia Chorale
Who we are
The Sinfonia Chorale is recognised as one of the leading small choirs in the East Midlands.
The choir was formed in 1966 as the English Sinfonia Chorale. SInce 1991, with Richard Roddis as its Director, it has enhanced its reputation for fine, expressive and exciting choral singing, and for ambitious and innovative programming. Several concerts are given every year in Nottingham and the surrounding counties.
The choir has around forty members including professional musicians and amateur instrumentalists. All share the same enthusiasm for singing and have many years of experience singing in choirs and smaller groups. The weekly rehearsals are lively, with plenty of humour and hard work, and are enjoyed by everyone. Enthusiasm and keenness to sing music written over the last five centuries is a hallmark of the choir for which it has gained a fine reputation. Particular interest has been taken in music written in the twentieth century and members have gained enormous pleasure through performing music by Britten, Poulenc, Carl Rütti and Walton (to name but a few) over the last few years. The music is frequently difficult to learn but the concentrated hard work at rehearsal is rewarded by an exhilarating and exciting performance enjoyed by both singers and audience.
Occasionally the choir sings with an orchestra or with organ accompaniment but a cappella, or unaccompanied, singing remains central to the repertoire.
Over the years the Sinfonia Chorale has developed its own distinctive sound based on technical accuracy, infectious enthusiasm and appreciation of the various styles of music performed. These, and many more attributes, are much appreciated by its audience. The following are a few of the recent press comments describing the sound of the Sinfonia Chorale: “Singing of rare beauty”, “luminous singing, the sound warm and clear”, “Technically, this is one of the best equipped chamber choirs in the region”.
Sinfonia Chorale concerts are usually held in March, June/July, November and December. Venues include St Mary’s Church in Nottingham Lace Market, the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham Albert Hall, Southwell Minster, the Djanogly Recital Hall, The Cathedral Church of St Barnabas Nottingham, Patchings Farm Art Centre Calverton, St Mark’s Church Woodthorpe, Derby Assembly Rooms, Newark Parish Church and Sheffield Cathedral.
Robert Steadman, a Nottingham composer, was commissioned to write Gloria which was programmed with Vivaldi’s Gloria in 1998 and received the review “Glorious music, gloriously sung”. Two years later the Sinfonia Chorale commissioned Isabel Jones, local choreographer and director of Salamanda Tandem and Eye Contact, to choreograph dance for a performance of Liszt’s Via Crucis in Southwell Minster. The evening was memorable with moving images of the Crucifixion set to Liszt’s music and one member of the press commenting “an outstanding event”.
More recent collaborations have been with the Helix Ensemble, the Derby Bach Choir, the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra, the Derby Concert Orchestra, the Derwent Singers and The English Pro Music Brass Ensemble. The concerts have mixed the popularity of works such as Fauré' Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, the exhilarating sounds of late renaissance music for multiple choirs by the Venetian masters Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, and Monteverdi and less well-known but effective and heartfelt pieces by Gerald Finzi, Trevor Hold and Richard Roddis - Pietà.
Fortieth Anniversary Year 2006
The Sinfonia Chorale celebrated its 40th Anniversary year with an exciting programme of events.
The first highlight was a performance of Bach’s St John Passion in Southwell Minster, on the Tuesday of Holy Week. As well as directing the performance, Richard Roddis sang the role of the Evangelist, which made the event a very personal one for him. But there was also a quartet of very distinguished soloists, and a wonderful ensemble of players of period instruments led by Nicolette Moonen. And of course the choir (hear the clip in Listen to our music). Peter Palmer wrote, in the Nottingham Evening Post: In its 40th anniversary season, the Sinfonia Chorale reaffirmed its position as the region's premier chamber choir. One could never hope to find more devoted music-making than this.
To complete the 40th Anniversary Year we had a busy autumn.
In October there was a Concert Tour of Tuscany, when the choir sang during Mass in Florence Cathedral (Duomo) and concerts in Florence, Pisa and Montecatini Terme.
Then, on 5 November we sang Ildebrando Pizzetti’s ‘Requiem Mass’ (why isn’t this wonderful work better known in this country?) together with Palestrina’s ‘Missa Brevis’ and a number of English motets and anthems, in St Barnabas Cathedral, Derby Road, Nottingham.
In addition to our annual Christmas Concert at Patchings Art Centre on Sunday 10th December, we again gave a charity Christmas Concert in aid of the Nottingham Branch of the Alzheimer’s Society at St Mark’s Church, Woodthorpe, on Tuesday 12 December.
We began 2007 with a Come and Sing/Play event on 20th January. This was a new adventure for the choir, although Richard Roddis is a very experienced leader. He was joined by Nicolette Moonen, who led the instrumentalists, and we explored some of the South American music that featured in the next concert.
‘Music from the Americas’ was performed at St Barnabas on 17th March, and featured Baroque music from South America and twentieth-century music from North America.
The Chorale was invited back to Southwell Minster for Good Friday 2007, when we performed another ‘St John Passion’ this time by the great contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.
The season ended - almost - with a Midsummer Serenade at St Mary's Church, Bottesford on 30th June. We premiered four Lyrics for Classics, settings of familiar works with texts by Don Read and arrangements by Michael Neaum.
And a week later, in St Mark's Church, Woodthorpe, we recorded them, with Michael Neaum accompanying us. Clips from three of them can be found on YouTube: click here.
In the 2007-8 season the choir continued to build on the adventurous programme developments of the past two years.
On November 3rd we explored the 'Magnificat', Mary's great song, in a range of settings from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, interspersed with settings of other texts associated with Mary: click here for details. Peter Palmer wrote in the Nottingham Evening Post that this was 'a superb programme, superbly performed.'
As well as our regular Christmas concert at Patchings Art Centre on Sunday 9th December, we presented another at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Oxton, on Tuesday 11th December.
After the success of the Come and Sing/Play day in 2007, we joined in another on Sat 19th January 2008, followed by a concert with our Baroque instrumentalist colleagues in March. Both featured one of the best kept secrets of the Baroque era - the Requiem a 15 in A by Biber. The concert was completed by music for two seventeenth century royal funerals, by Purcell and Marc-Antoine Charpentier: click here for details, and go to 'Listen to our music' to hear some extracts.
Two concerts at short notice gave us a busy summer. On 17th May we provided the choral ingredient for the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra's "Let's Dance" at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall, extending our repertoire with songs from musicals. On the 7th June a more conventional (for us) concert was presented at St Martin's Church, Sherwood.
On the 5th July we repeated our summer visit to Bottesford, this time sharing the limelight with children from Bottesford C of E Primary School. The main items were performances of 'Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo' by Flanders and Horovitz, and 'Cloudburst' by Eric Whitacre (and the weather duly deteriorated again).
Liz Mills, who worked wonders with the children, said afterwards: "... the concert was great fun and the children got such a lot from being part of something which, for most, was very new and very exciting. We have had SO many comments from thrilled parents, grannies, neighbours and the local community. They were thoroughly 'WOWED' by Sinfonia Chorale, and thrilled to see our little crew 'up front' too."
The 2008-9 season started with a trip to Krakow, preceded by a pre-tour concert at the Polish church, St Paul's, Leicester and followed by Polish Connections a concert on 1 November at St Barnabas Cathedral. Music by two Polish composers, Panufnik and Górecki, and (in the 50th anniversary year of his death) the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams were included. William Ruff's write-up of the concert in the Nottingham Evening Post can be found on the Polish Connections page. Pictures of the trip can be found from the 'Polish Connections' page (link above).
To begin the Christmas season we took part in 'Belvoir by Candlelight' at Belvoir Castle on Tuesday 2nd December. Then, as well as the traditional Patchings Christmas Concert on 14 December, we presented a Christmas concert on behalf of the Alzheimer's Society at St Mark's Church Woodthorpe on 16th December.
The 17th January 2009 brought our third 'Come and Sing' in Bramcote. This time we explored Domenico Scarlatti's Stabat Mater
On the Tuesday of Holy Week, 7th April 2009, we returned to Southwell Minster with a performance of JS Bach's great St Matthew Passion. Grahame Whitehead, of the Nottingham Evening Post, wrote: " ... Bach's fusion of dramatic narrative with personal spiritual reflection was recreated with a simple directness which always left space for quiet reflection. ... The choir's well-balanced, disciplined sound was equally at home in the chorale melodies and in the dramatic interjections which punctuate the narrative ...".
A summer concert on an American theme, as befits its date of the fourth of July, was performed in a new venue for us, the West Bridgford Methodist Church. Alistair Parnell joined us with is his expressive saxophone playing. As well as a miscellany of American items, the concert also contained new pieces by Richard Roddis and Tom Zadik.
The main pillars of this season's programme were two monumental settings of the Vespers.
In November we performed Rachmaninov's Vespers in St Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham, austerely beautiful music for the Russian Orthodox 'All-night Vigil'. The fifteen sections, interspersed by two chanted psalms, were performed in a single span by the unaccompanied choir to a rapt audience.
In contrast, the magnificence of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, in its 400th anniversary year, formed the basis of our winter season. January's 'Come and Sing/Play' event attracted a record number of participants: we even had, reluctantly, to turn some people away. The main event was the very well attended concert in Southwell Minster on the 20th March: an extract can be heard on the Media Player - above right.
In between, we were invited to take part in a new venture for us, Nottingham's 'Light Night 2010'. We performed works with the theme of 'light' in the Exchange Arcade on a cold Friday evening, 12th February, to the accompaniment of the Council House clock chimes and echoes of some of the other sounds of this eventful evening.
Again we began the Christmas season at Belvoir Castle, as part of their Christmas Fantasia Week. The traditional Patchings Christmas Concert took place the following weekend, closely followed by another Christmas Concert on behalf of the Alzheimer's Society at St Mark's Church, Woodthorpe.
In the summer we revisited the West Bridgford Methodist Church, and introduced ourselves to a new venue, the Parish Church at Halam, near Southwell.
This season we introduced web booking, which people immediately took up.
Iberian Year 2010-11
This season has a strong Iberian connection: Autumn took us to Catalonia (literally) and Spring to Portugal (figuratively).
In October we travelled to Sabadell, near Barcelona, and sang with Coral Belles Arts, a local choir. We performed in Sabadell, Montserrat, the Abbey at Sant Cugat, and Barcelona itself (in Santa Maria del Mar). The Sabadell Concert was organised by the Federacio Catalana d'Entitats Corals as part of a season featuring a large number of Catalan choirs. Four choirs in all took part in our concert, and we finished up singing folk-song arrangements together: two Catalan and one Scottish. The Coral Belles Arts and their conductor Esteve Costa were excellent hosts, and we learned a great deal about Catalunya and the importance of their choral music tradition. The music developed for this trip formed the basis of the November concert, Catalan Connections, of which Grahame Whitehead of the Nottingham Evening Post wrote (pardon our bragging):
' ... This was choral singing at its best. It went beyond technical excellence, however, and the enjoyment and engagement of the singers were unmistakable ... a glorious wave of sound ... energy and power ... beautifully conveyed a sense of mysteries beyond words ...' (For the full review please click here.)
The year ended with our usual Christmas concerts.
Antonio Teixeira's exhilarating Te Deum was our New Year project for the 'Come and Sing' in January and the March concerts. We believe that this was the première outside London of this great but unknown work by the eighteenth-century Portuguese composer. There were two performances, on the 26th and 27th March, once in Derby and once in Southwell, in collaboration with the Derwent Singers, a Derby-based choir also conducted by Richard Roddis, and the Baroque Ensemble, again led by Nicolette Moonen. Most of the solo sections were sung by members of the choirs, except for four florid soprano solos, which were performed by Clare Devine. Mike Wheeler's review described the Derby performance as 'one of Derby's outstanding musical events of 2011.' (For the full review, please click here.)
On 9th April we took part in a Choral Festival, hosted by the Derby Bach Choir at the Derby Round House. Five other choirs and the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra were also involved under the baton of Richard Roddis. The programme included Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and his Festival Te Deum, Parry's I was glad, and an Alleluia by Randall Thompson.
July took us to the West Bridgford Methodist Church for our third Summer Concert there - In Praise of Music - teaming up again with Alistair Parnell, saxophonist.
Our 5 November concert at St Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham, was entitled Choirs of Angels.
Works by two modern composers whose writing for choirs is inspirational - Carl Rütti and Eric Whitacre - were explored during the 'Come and Sing' in January and will be performed at our spring concert in March.
In May we contributed to the Nottingham Symphony Orchestra's French programme on 26 May, when we joined the Derby Bach Choir and the Derwent Singers in an almost complete performance of Ravel's colourful and sensual ballet music 'Daphnis and Chloe' and other pieces.
In July our Summer Concert Flights of Fancy was again at the West Bridgford Methodist Church, together with the Imperfect Fifth saxophone quartet.
Brahms' German Requiem was the focus our November concert, a more intimate version than is usually heard, accompanied by a piano duet. Other composers' responses to some of the same texts were also explored.
January's Come and Sing/Play and our March concert Baroque Fest featured Biber's Vespers, Padilla's Missa Ego Flos Campi and Schütz' Psalm 24.
- ... the masterly performance of the Sinfonia Chorale and the instrumentalists. Congratulations on that!
- ... I thought the choir performed excellently.
- ... a beautiful musical experience.
Later in the spring we commemorate Benjamin Britten's centenary with his Cantata Misericordium.