Chorus collect almost £2,000 for Ukraine Appeal

Monday  14 March 2022

At last Saturday’s Rachmaninov concert almost £2,000 was collected for the Ukraine Appeal. The concert, featuring Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil, in St Mark’s Church Broomhill, was dedicated to the memory of Margaret Staniforth, a much-missed second soprano who had been a member for many years until her death in 2019, and to the people of Ukraine.

‘We are thrilled with the generosity of our audience’ said Chorus Chair Paul Henstridge, ‘We were very keen to present Rachmaninov’s beautiful work as a symbol of our solidarity and friendship with the Ukrainian people. Margaret’s widower Kim attended the concert as an honoured guest, and was very pleased that the concert was also be offered in friendship with the Ukrainian people.’

The Chorus started working on Rachmaninov’s haunting All Night Vigil during the lock-down, rehearsing online from their own homes following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, for a performance that was scheduled to take place last year but which had to be postponed. The programme began with beautiful but rarely-heard songs by Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, sung by Plymouth-born mezzo-soprano Charlotte Badham accompanied by Chorus pianist Rachel Fright.

The retiring collection will be donated to the Red Cross Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal.

Chorus starts on-line rehearsals

28 June 2020

The Chorus will start on-line rehearsals on Tuesday 30 June 2020. Music Director, Darius Battiwalla, accompanist Rachel Fright and Voice Coach Maggie McDonald will lead the Chorus in rehearsing Handel’s Messiah and Rachmaninov’s Vespers.

“We are not going to let the coronavirus stop us from singing, and if on-line is currently the only way, then on-line it will be” said Chorus Chair Psaul Henstridge. ” A small number of us had a trial run last week, which went very well, and we’re very much looking forward to getting everyone together for the first time since the lock-down”

Music Director Darius Battiwalla was one of eighteen signatories to a letter ‘Covid-19 has silenced choirs – we must find a way to restart singing together‘, published in the Guardian recently.  Composer/conductors Bob Chilcott and John Rutter joined Harry Christophers, founder of The Sixteen, opera singer Sarah Connelly and internationally-renowned choral directors Simon Halsey and David Hill, asking the Government “to show how we can restart singing together on an equal footing with opening theme parks, shopping and kicking a football around. It is imperative that we find a way for choirs in this country to resume as soon and as safely as we can.”

Mr. Battiwalla was extremely keen to start rehearsing in some form or other, rather than waiting until Government advice enables choirs to get together and sing as they did before the pandemic. He has worked with accompanist Rachel Fright, Voice Coach Maggie McDonald and the Chorus committee to find a way to re-commence rehearsals virtually, with advice from other large symphonic choirs who are already running on-line rehearsals.

“Colleagues from Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, which has been rehearsing online for some weeks, have been very helpful” said Music Director Darius Battiwalla. “We know it will be a different experience, but we are determined to do everything we can to continue with our music making.”

The Chorus will rehearse Messiah simply because members already have their own scores, but will also make a start on the beautiful Rachmaninov Vespers, which they hope to be able to perform in Sheffield cathedral next May.