Here's something about the concerts we've given in recent years. We take you back as far as 2019, but there's a gap because of the Covid lockdown when choir's were not allowed to meet or perform.
mailSHOT is our occasional eNewsletter to friends of Winchester Community Choir. It gives news about choir events, particulaarly upcoming concerts. If we have sent an edition of mailSHOT about the concerts listed below, you'll see a link to it at the end of the article.
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Our summer concert 2023
Tuesday 4 July 2023 at 7:30pm.
at The United Church, Winchester
This is Winchester Community Choir’s summer concert - Hampshire and Beyond. The programme includes a set of songs with a strong connection to our own county. Then we’ll visit our neighbours: Fields of Gold by Sting, written in Wiltshire, a tune from the Copper family in Sussex, and Dorset words set to music by Vaughan Williams. Beyond takes us to Somerset and Cambridgeshire and eventually to North America for some blues, hymnody and shanties from Missouri and the Mississippi.
As usual the concert is a fundraiser, this time for the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group - volunteers who befriend and support asylum seekers and refugees. There’ll be a retiring collection and a share of the ticket sales for this local charity.
If you joined us that evening at The United Church, we hope you enjoyed listening to our programme of winter songs and thank you for joining in with those seasonal favourites, White Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. Away in a Manger was on the programme, too, but sung in harmony to a lovely French traditional melody. Even so, there was some participation from the pews towards the end of the carol, once our audience had picked up the tune – and who doesn’t know most, if not all, the words?
The Mayor was due to join us but was ill. We hope that he had a speedy recovery and say a big thank you to Cllr Patrick Cunningham, a past Mayor of Winchester, together with his wife Mrs Joy Cunningham who stood in at the last-minute.
Winchester’s past Mayor Cllr Patrick Cunningham
WCC’s Christmas concert on
13 December 2022 was called Sing out for Christmas.
WCC’s Summer concert on 12 July 2022 was called Bushes and Briars.
Our summer concert on 12 July, Bushes and Briars, was a great success. Audience feedback was really positive:
‘a lovely, varied programme’
‘loved the readings, could hear every word, lovely expression’
‘looked as though choir really enjoyed the experience’
‘superb BRAVE soloists, marvellous precision and all looking at the conductor’
‘your enjoyment was infectious!’
Our audience gave generously to the retiring collection, which goes this year to the Mayor of Winchester’s charities. The collection, plus a share of ticket sales, meant we could give £400 to benefit Trinity Winchester, British Heart Foundation and Winchester Hospice. Thank you to all our generous supporters and choir members for such a brilliant outcome.
This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). It’s being commemorated in concerts all over the world, including at the Proms in London. We like to think we contributed to the birthday celebrations. Bushes and Briars, the title of the concert, was the first folk song that Ralph Vaughan Williams noted down. When RVW heard Bushes and Briars sung by a seventy-year-old labourer, Charles Pottipher, he ‘felt it was something I had known all my life’. So began a passion for preserving a disappearing heritage that took RVW far and wide over the country into travellers’ camps, pubs and workhouses. RVW set the song for four male voices, but we sang Bushes and Briars in a lovely arrangement for mixed choir by Sally Davies.
WCC’s Summer concert on 7 December 2021 as called Brand New Day
Winchester Community Choir held its first Christmas Concert in two years on Tuesday 7th December at the United Church in Jewry Street. The event was a sell-out and raised £800 for The Boaz Project, an organisation which helps people with learning difficulties.
Covid stops play
National restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid meant that we were not able to rehearse in person during lockdown and for some time afterwards. Instead we had fortnightly rehearsals by Zoom, led by our Music Director, Carolyn Robson.
Like many choirs across the country we expected that prohibition on rehearsals would be lifted when the government announced the move to Step 3 of its route map out of lockdown, which began on 17 May 2021. Unfortunately amateur choirs were limited to rehearsal out-of-doors. Several members joined the campaign to try and reverse this policy, writing letters to MPs and signing a national petition which raised 59,000 signatures but the campaign failed to shift the government’s prohibition on indoor singing.
We complied with the restrictions during the summer term 2021, alternating weekly between rehearsals outdoors, weather permitting, and on-line sessions. River Park was our out-door venue. We ended the summer term with a picnic in the wonderful garden of Itchen Abbas Manor, courtesy of Joan and Rodey Dartnell. Paul Tabbush played Northumbrian smallpipes and the choir performed to itself as the sun set over the Itchen.
Step 4 of the routemap allowed us to resume weekly rehearsals indoors at The United Church in Jewry Street in September 2021. The Sanctuary became our rehearsal room after more than a year’s break.
We joined five other choirs for this concert in Winchester's Guildhall. The event raised funds for the Sarah Morgan Foundation - a charity that supports the community choir movement in England. The charity was set up in memory of Sarah Morgan the founding Music Director of Winchester Community Choir.
Winchester Community Choir hosted a visit by a German choir, Avanti Dilettanti, on a long weekend 30 May to 3 June 2019.
Both choirs joined in an afternoon workshop on the Saturday, followed by a concert performance from the two choirs in the evening.