Jake Barlow marks his first year in charge of Chichester’s St Richard Singers with their Christmas concert, one which will see them joined by the Noviomagus String Ensemble
A Babe is Born will be in St George’s Church, Whyke on Saturday, December 15 at 7.30pm.
“Last year we had the format of carols and readings for Christmas, but this year I wanted to do something slightly different. Around Christmas there are lots of big works that tend to happen. People put on Messiahs and things like that, but I wanted to do something fresh, something that everybody can enjoy.
“We found the carols and readings format last year was very popular and well received, but I wanted to change things just a little, so we are introducing a more classical work in the first half, with the carols and readings in the second.
“So the main work is going to be Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai. It was written for the Festival of St Nicholas which takes place in early December and it was written for Haydn’s patron at the time. It is an amazing piece, a good solid classical mass, a very refreshing look at how to set a mass text.
“It is exciting and it is vibrant – vibrant enough that you have to have the stamina to keep it buoyant the whole time. There are some trickier sections where the parts play off each other, but the really important thing will be to stay vibrant.
“And the choir have stood up very well to the challenges. They are making a great sound in rehearsals - a great sound and a happy sound. They are a choir that are hungry and want to do exciting things. It is really great to have that degree of support. The extent to which they have been so committed to everything has been very good.
“You can’t help but enjoy that enthusiasm. They are incredibly willing to try out so many new things. I have come at them with X and Y and Z and they have tried everything.”
Jake is delighted with the year he and the choir have enjoyed together.
“We are a good size member-wise, but you are always wanting to keep an ear out for good voices, for people committed to making good music and maintaining good standards.
“Membership is always simmering. You never want to rest on your laurels. You always need to keep moving and keep things fresh.”
Part of that moving forward is the fact that for the Haydn this year, the choir will be performing with strings.
“We have got a string ensemble coming, and we have also engaged soloists from the University of Chichester. I thought it would be good to have some student soloists.
“With the quality of the music department at the university, I felt it would be good to engage with that community. We haven’t done specifically before. I have been saving it for this kind of occasion. It is a very good and very busy music department. I thought it would be great to have some of the students come and join us.”
It all builds towards an important year.
This time next year, the Christmas concert will launch the St Richard Singers into their 50th anniversary year, 2020.
In the meantime, the second half of this year’s Christmas concert will include music by Holst, Matthias, and Richard Rodney Bennett.
Ticket prices are £12, £5 (students), U18s free (mince pies and mulled wine included).
Tickets are available from http://www.strichardsingers.org.uk.