Debut concert coming up for Chichester Chorale's new conductor

Tom
Tom

Chichester Chorale invite you to join them for an evening of some of the most stunning music written for the season of Lent – in their first concert under new musical director Tom Robson.

Entitled A Lenten Meditation, the concert is at St George’s Church, Whyke, Chichester on Saturday, March 30.

Tom succeeded his father Arthur in the post at the start of the year, following Arthur’s retirement last year both from the University of Chichester and from the Chorale. Arthur founded the chorale with Mark Wardell in around 2004 and then continued to run it by himself after Mark moved away.

“I wasn’t there when the choir was told that my dad was going to retire, but he told me that there was great shock including a couple of people bursting into tears. The choir was a really important part of the week for a lot of them. It is so much about community.

“And then dad said to them ‘That’s the bad news… but the good news is that the choir will continue.’ He said to them ‘If you are happy, Tom would like to carry on the choir.’ Dad said to them to take their time and think about it before making a decision, but apparently they just said ‘If Tom is happy, then we are happy.’ I didn’t know what was being said, of course, but I just felt so pleased that they felt confident in my approach and familiar with me and that it reduced the stress of something new.”

It wasn’t the easiest decision, however, for Tom: “I used to work at the university as a lecturer and left at the end of last year. Every year we did a joint concert between the university and the chorale, and so they knew me and I knew most of them.

“But it wasn’t straightforward, given the timing that I had just left. I live in London and am based in London. Dad had mentioned this to me a few years previously, and I thought if I was still at the university, it would link in very nicely. But now I just come back down to take the rehearsal, so it wasn’t an immediately-simple decision.

“But I decided to say yes partly because my dad had set up such a wonderful choir and I wanted to make sure that it would continue, partly also that I had just lost my choirs at the university and was looking for something to replace them with, but also partly because I just saw such a lot of potential in the singers. I felt I would enjoy pushing them in slightly-different ways from dad.

“I am certainly a different personality, but we have always understood each other well. We used to work together running one of the university choirs together, and the students used to say that it was nice because we had slightly-different approaches. It is difficult to describe really, but I would say that my dad is very good at seeing the bigger picture early on and then working out how all the little things work whereas I often focus on the little details straightaway in order to get a better understanding of the whole picture.

“With the Chorale, it is now immediately my style. I have chosen music that is slightly out of their comfort zone, music that they might not have experienced before. I do a lot of work in catholic music though I am not catholic. I have explored a repertoire that I didn’t know very well, and by exploring that repertoire, I am now able to explore it with them.

In our first concert that we are doing together, we are doing a lot of renaissance Lenten music in the first half, followed by much more familiar works in the second.”

“The first half of the concert will feature music by Thomas Tallis, Henry Purcell and Giovanni Croce, alongside Antonio Lotti’s setting of Crucifixus a 8 and will conclude with Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere mei, Deus. The second half of the concert will be devoted to John Stainer’s 1887 oratorio The Crucifixion. Tickets £12 from info@chichesterchorale.com or on the door.

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