Michael Kibblewhite 1944-2023

Michael Kibblewhite 1944-2023

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death of Michael Kibblewhite, Musical Director of Hertfordshire Chorus from 1977 to 2000. His superb all-round musicianship and passion inspired all those who were fortunate enough to sing with him.  Following his family’s musical tradition (he was a great-grandson of Sir John Stainer and Sir Frederick Bridge), Michael Kibblewhite became a chorister at Magdalen College, Oxford, played the bassoon in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and subsequently won a Music Scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied under Raymond Leppard and Sir David Willcocks. He was later made a Choral Exhibitioner with choral conducting his specialty. Firmly established as one of the leading conductors of choral music ... Read More

Recording The Armed Man (Ensemble version)

Recording The Armed Man (Ensemble version)

I have known Sir Karl Jenkins for about 10 years now, meeting him briefly for ClassicFM concerts where he conducted the Benedictus from The Armed Man. In recent years I have worked with him more regularly and we have become close colleagues.  During the COVID lockdown period I explored some recording ideas so that Hertfordshire Chorus could hit the ground running once we returned to full action. One of these ideas was a total shot in the dark - to ask Karl Jenkins and his publisher (Boosey) if we could make the first ever recording of the ensemble version (strings, flute/piccolo, 3 trumpets, percussion and organ) of The Armed Man.  To my delight, they agreed to this and immediately we approached ... Read More

Nova! Nova! – a new book and a new recording

Nova! Nova! – a new book and a new recording

There are many miracles surrounding the story of Christmas but perhaps the greatest one is my conversion from loathing to loving Christmas, very much inspired by the singing of Hertfordshire Chorus. It has been on the cards for a while that we would like to record a collection of beautiful and well-known carols.  We now have the perfect opportunity! This year sees the launch of a new carol book, Nova! Nova! with all 63 carols arranged by Louis Halsey. Louis Halsey (now in his 90s) enjoyed a successful career as a well-known conductor/composer/arranger/producer from the 1950s onwards. His wife, Eve (now sadly deceased) was a lecturer at my Southlands College of Education and gave me my first go at conducting back in 1975.  ... Read More

‘Live’ Music Lives Again!

‘Live’ Music Lives Again!

Meeting the challenge It has been said many times but the Covid pandemic has been challenging for choirs. We were unable to meet in person, let alone sing together for many months. Singing is so much more than a hobby so the future looked bleak. However, thanks to the heroic efforts of the scientists who developed the vaccines we are returning to a new version of normal. We took a decision at the beginning of the first lockdown to concentrate on three things: Keep the Chorus together by communicating widely, sharing information and fun. Keep our professional colleagues in employment and close to us. Minimise the risk of exposure to the virus for our members and professionals when carrying out ... Read More

Sarojini – Hertfordshire Chorus Commission

Sarojini – Hertfordshire Chorus Commission

I first met Shruthi Rajasekar in January at the Royal Albert Hall at an event to showcase the young composers involved with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and its chamber choir.  We shared much common ground and I remember her being very taken when I told her that Hertfordshire Chorus had commissioned Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, a choral work performed all over the world. I decided to keep in touch with Shruthi and spent some time researching her music. Over the first lockdown period, when Shruthi was back home in Minnesota USA, we enjoyed several video chats where we discussed all manner of musical ideas and it soon became obvious that Shruthi was a composer I had ... Read More

The First Twenty Years – David Temple and Hertfordshire Chorus

The First Twenty Years – David Temple and Hertfordshire Chorus

For those of us who love numbers a look back at the last 20 years of David Temple’s association with Hertfordshire Chorus is a box of delights. There have been 108 concerts. These have included a stellar Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall, and a performance of Elgar’s The Kingdom hailed by the Elgar Society as the best the reviewer had ever heard. We got to grips with 153 works. This isn’t including music for Christmas concerts which would need a whole page of its own as there have been 39 of them. We regularly perform four or five Christmas themed events each December, so can turn out to sing carols at the drop of a hat. We ... Read More

Covid and choirs – learning to cope

Covid and choirs – learning to cope

The news was full of heartbreaking images of overrun hospitals and desperate medics in Italy. As Trustees, we suddenly had an awesome responsibility for the safety of our singers. We talked for several days about what we should do in order to manage the risk for our more vulnerable members. It was March 2020 and the decisions we had to make seemed existential to the life of our Chorus. We followed the government guidance and put in measures to protect singers during rehearsals. Some members had already decided that the risk was too great for them and the number not coming to rehearsals increased. In the end there was no alternative to suspending activities when the venue for our next ... Read More

Sits and Stands

Sits and Stands

We were meant to remain on our feet during the tenor aria and wait for the next chorus. We stood quietly and dutifully held our folders at the right angle - a picture of choral professionalism. Our musical director was dealing with a lot of stuff - the orchestra, choir, soloists, tricky acoustics and the score. Maybe there was a sit we had failed to record or maybe he just thought we were looking a bit tired. Anyway, he gave a clear downward wave. There was a split-second of indecision before we all obeyed. The aria was beautiful but short and there was a growing sense of tension among the singers. This was clear from the tightening of shoulders and ... Read More

Four workshops with Hertfordshire Chorus

Four workshops with Hertfordshire Chorus

All workshops are on Wednesday evenings from 7.30 - 10pm at our regular rehearsal venue, Stanborough School, Lemsford Rd, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6YR Workshops cost £5 which includes music hire and tea and a chance to sample our excellent cakes! Elgar – The Music Makers This beautiful work is based on a poem ‘Ode’ by Arthur O'Shaughnessy and celebrates the importance of art to society. 30th October Haydn – Harmoniemesse Haydn’s last major work combines wind instruments with choral voices in this glorious ‘High Mass’. It is a vast work that is a joy to sing. 6th November Karl Jenkins – The Armed Man Jenkins composed this work as‘A Mass for Peace’ a commission for the Millennium celebrations and ... Read More

Porgy and Bess in Poland

Porgy and Bess in Poland

Hertfordshire Chorus has been asked to perform George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in Wroclaw, Poland later this year. The choir will be joining leading conductor and renowned American specialist Wayne Marshall, the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic and top-quality soloists Indira Mahajan, Angela Renée Simpson, Ronald Samm and Kevin Short in the International FestivalWratislavia Cantans on Sunday 15thSeptember. The concert forms part of a year-long national project to commemorate the centenary of Poland regaining its independence after the First World War. Porgy and Bess was written in 1935, just two years before Gershwin’s untimely death at the age of only 38. The work was based on the novel Porgy by DuBose Heyward, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It is considered to ... Read More

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