There are currently about 120 singing members. We rehearse on Monday evenings during term time from 7.30pm to 9.40pm at Chiltern Edge Adult Education Centre in Sonning Common, about 5 miles north of Reading.
The majority of our members live in South Oxfordshire and Reading. The choir performs the standard classical repertoire, particularly in the Spring concert (see below). However, we often commission new work from British composers to feature in the Christmas concert (in 2007 Alan Bullard’s “A Feast for Christmas” and in 2003 his settings of some of the nonsense verse of Edward Lear).
Our singing year starts in September and our three regular concerts each year are:
Christmas concert (Chiltern Edge School, Sonning Common). Held on the Saturday & Sunday before Christmas, this consists of a short work such as Rutter’s Gloria or Magnificat, Bach’s Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Pergolesi or Howard Goodall’s Magnificat, Ramirez’s Misa Criolla or Navidad Nuestra, Bob Chilcott’s Jubilate, The Armed Man (Jenkins) plus various shorter works, with perhaps a novelty piece or two and we always include carols for audience and choir. The family atmosphere is enhanced by a group of children from one of the local schools who join us with their singing and playing.
Spring concert (Great Hall, Reading University). Usually we perform a major choral work appropriate to a large choir. In recent years the choir has sung “Elijah”, Brahms’ “German Requiem”, “Missa Solemnis”, Schubert and Haydn Masses, Bruckner, Bizet, Durufle, Faure, Carter, Richard Blackford’s “Mirror of Perfection” and Lambert’s “The Rio Grande”. The Spring 2008 concert was the Verdi requiem (for the third time in 20 years!) and 2010 was Jenkins’ Gloria.
Summer concert This is our Glyndebourne as we combine the concert with a picnic in the grounds during the long interval. There is no set formula, but we try to include something different and will often welcome a visiting choir or a young professional instrumentalist to add variety to the proceeding. In 2007, we staged “Saturday Night at the Movies”, many of the songs specially arranged for our show, and in 2009 we sang ‘American Music’, all arranged by our then conductor, Gwyn Arch.
We use both professional and non-professional soloists and instrumentalists and have participated in a number of exchange tours with other choirs. In recent years we have travelled to Norway, France, Scarborough, East Anglia & the Isle of Wight. We also perform regularly at other venues. We try to do new and interesting works as well as the standard choral works and we were privileged to have the arranging skills of Gwyn Arch on tap.