“O be Joyful” as choirs return!

Wareham Choral Society is returning to music making in September

The last 18 months have been difficult for us all, but those who sing in choirs have been particularly hard hit with many unable to sing together since March 2020. Now restrictions are lifting Wareham Choral Society is planning a return to music making in September 2021.

Their Monday evening rehearsals at Lady St Mary’s Church will include the standard Christmas fare including excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” but also an exciting newly commissioned work. The “Dorset Jubilate” is being written for the Choral Society by composer Philip Singleton, and as well as the familiar words of the Jubilate, it will incorporate settings of two poems by local poet Thomas Hardy – “The Darkling Thrush”, and  “The Oxen” which will add a Christmas feel to the piece due to be first performed on 4th December 2021 in a concert with Briantspuddle Singers.

Hazel Rickets, Musical Director at Wareham Choral Society

Composer Philip Singleton says this of the work:

“When Wareham Choral Society and their musical director, Hazel Ricketts, approached me to compose a work celebrating their return to singing after such a long period of lockdown, we quickly settled upon the Jubilate Deo as a suitable text to express the joyful moment that this represented.

“It was also important that this work should be as inclusive as possible, and we agreed that there should be some form of secular component as well – and what better to set, in a work to be performed in Dorset, than poems by that greatest son of the county, Thomas Hardy?

It is therefore my sincere hope that the Dorset Jubilate should contain something to appeal to all listeners. The Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100) invites Christians to be joyful and to praise God, while Hardy’s poem “The Oxen” takes the form of a pastoral carol-like setting, and in the “The Darkling Thrush” a lone wanderer on the point of despair finds solace in the song of an unseen thrush – suggested here by solo trumpet.

“At this difficult time, with so much uncertainty remaining, it is my hope that the Dorset Jubilate will offer a joyful, collective experience, however brief. By uniting – in music, as in the rest of our lives – we, as a society, stand the greatest chance of weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and, hopefully, emerging better for all that we have learned to endure.”

Philip Singleton (standing) and John Challenger (Assistant Director of Music, Salisbury Cathedral)

The work is written not only for Choir, but with Soprano and Baritone Soloists (primarily in the Hardy poem settings), and, as a professional trumpeter himself, Philip has included obbligato trumpet, all supported by an important and exciting organ part.

The composition of the “Dorset Jubilate” has been in close collaboration with Wareham Choral Society’s Musical Director, Hazel Ricketts, and John Challenger, organist of Salisbury Cathedral.

Hazel Ricketts comments that “The form of this work has changed since Philip and I first started discussions, and I have found it fascinating to see how some elements have stayed the same from the start, and grown in importance – the ‘Jubilate theme’ for example, which has ended up being central to the cohesiveness of the entire work, whereas other elements have changed and refined as the work has developed – at times almost beyond recognition!

Seeing Philip Singleton and John Challenger working together to get the best out of the immensely complex instrument that is the organ was a privilege and the results of this collaboration are obvious in a very dramatic organ part which compliments and supports the choir. The choral writing is crafted to be approachable and singable for an amateur choir, albeit with some of its own challenges, but the real joy is in the piece as a whole, and the way in which all elements fit together to make a new and exciting, yet still moving, choral work reflecting our mixed feelings at this strange time”.

Wareham Choral Society meets on Monday evenings at 7.30pm in Lady St Mary’s Church, Wareham, and Briantspuddle singers on Tuesdays at 7.30pm in Briantspuddle Village Hall.

Both choirs would welcome new members in all voice parts. For more information please visit www.warehamchoral.co.uk or contact: 01929 552272 for Wareham Choral or www.briantspuddlesingers.uk 01305 262575 for Briantspuddle Singers.
For further information on Philip Singleton please visit: https://composerphil.wixsite.com/home

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