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Proms on Sunday at The Mayflower

Dear Diana,

We just wanted to say a massive THANK YOU to Southampton Choral Society for being part of the Proms on Sunday! (29/1/2017) . It was such an incredible day and we were so privileged to have you as part of the evening. We truly appreciate the extra time spent on rehearsal and the learning of new material. We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!

The feedback so far has been overwhelming positive.

Here’s the link to the Daily Echo review and photos – this is in the paper today:



Verdi Requiem Review

Last night (Saturday 19th November), I attended a magnificent concert given by the choirs of Southampton Choral Society and The Portsmouth Choral Union.  They were joined together to perform Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass.  This is considered one of Verdi’s finest compositions and is deeply religious, but highly operatic in style.  It requires double choir, four soloists and orchestra, and each has an equal part to play in the performance.

The Requiem opens quietly and rather mysteriously and the choirs achieved a beautiful warm sound, without their musical scores at this point and thus they had a focused intensity which held the audience.

The soloists were excellent. Claire Seaton Soprano, Diana Moore Mezzo-soprano, John Hudson Tenor and Michael Bundy Bass-baritone who had stepped in at short notice when the intended bass was indisposed.  However, I found the Tenor to have a rather “shrill” sound in his higher range, and I have to say the two Sopranos stole the show for me, Diana Moore being my favourite with her poise, volume (I could hear her every note from the rear of the hall) and intensely warm tone.

The orchestra made a lovely sound and accompanied the singers very well, perhaps being a bit over enthusiastic with their volume in places!

David Gostick, Musical Director and Conductor for the evening, held the performance together efficiently and was gentle in his conducting movements as befits an essentially religious work.

The evening ended with the Soprano leading the choirs in quiet un-accompanied singing and this was spectacular.  Diction here was particularly good.

All in all, a powerful, accurate performance done with warmth and enthusiasm, and anyone who wasn’t there missed a real treat.



Susan Welland

Young Musician Award winner plays at choir practice

At our rehearsal on April 18th Sue Savage presented our Young Musician Award 2016.  This went to Ellie Row, who is a Taunton’s College student. Ellie played the 3rd movement of Ravel’s Sonatine for us, to tumultuous applause.

Ellie is nineteen, having had to repeat a year in Sixth Form College due to prolonged absences through illness.  She is taking A level Maths, Physics and Music. Although she hopes to study Music at University she does not want a career as a professional performer because she gets too nervous, and feels that composition would be a better option.

Ellie later sent this email to the choir:

I’d like to thank you and Southampton Choral Society very much for giving me the opportunity to perform to you on Monday, and for the lovely award that I had presented to me.

 I have been playing the piano since I was about 6 years old, but I had never really learnt to play properly until about 5 years ago, which was when came I under the tutelage of my current piano teacher, Rachel Harper.

This was because I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis when I was 3 years old, therefore throughout my childhood; I was never really well enough to learn with a teacher regularly. What music I did play, I had mainly taught myself, and I enjoyed sight-reading a whole range of genres from baroque and classical, to jazz and musicals. 

Since being taught by Rachel, my piano skills have increased dramatically, and I now intend to take the ABRSM Piano Diploma in July.

As I was often ill, I missed school a lot, and the piano was one way of coping with my illness. I also learnt to play the violin in Junior School, and I currently have lessons with Emma Clark. I intend to take my grade 8 in violin this summer.

As well as playing the violin and piano, I also sing, and have lessons with Elin Davis at my college, Richard Taunton’s Sixth Form. I took my singing grade 8 last year.

 I hope to go on to study music at either the University of Nottingham or the University of Southampton, and I have received offers from both. At the moment, I am the co-principal player of Southampton Youth Orchestra, and sadly this is my last year with them before I go off to university. I hope to return to them in the future to help out, and to perhaps play a concerto!

 I’d like to thank you all again very much, and I hope that you have an enjoyable and successful concert at the end of this month!”

Ellie1 Ellie2

Annual Young Musicians Award

Earlier this year the Society presented the Alban Rees-Jones Cup to the Southampton Competitive Music Festival in memory of our friend and accompanist who died in 2015.  On Sunday March 6th the Impressionist Piano Class was held, for players 16 years and under. The winner of the class, Patrick Winter, was awarded the Cup.  It had been hoped that Alban’s niece would come to present the cup, but as she was unable to do so, our Chair, Sue Savage, made the presentation. We also gave a monetary award, (£200) for the most promising young pianist who would benefit from some financial assistance towards their studies. Sue Savage presented this to Isobel Hill at the Winners’ Concert at Thornden on Friday March 18th.  Isobel had won the Romantic Class for pianists aged 14 and under.

The Executive Committee also approved the award of our Young Musician prize 2016 to Ellie Row, a student at Taunton’s College. This was presented to her at the rehearsal on April 18th when Ellie also performed for us.


Patrick Winter

 Isobel Hill with her award

Isobel Hill with her award photo by Dan Cooke

Southampton Choral Society are committed to supporting young musicians in the city and in addition to inviting them to perform alongside the choir whenever they can, they also offer two awards. Their Young Musician award is a monetary award given every year or two to a suitable nominated candidate in order to help their musical studies.
There is also a trophy and a separate monetary award presented to a young person in the piano section at the annual Southampton Festival of Music and Drama. This is in memory of Alban Rees-Jones who was a much admired accompanist for the Choral Society and who sadly died at the beginning of 2015.


Gerontius at Winchester

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‘It was just wonderful.’

 ‘The best performance of Gerontius I have ever heard’

These were just a few comments overheard at the end of a perfect performance. …. When Diana Moore hit the top A in the final Alleluia in Elgar’s famous music drama, it resounded around the Cathedral with a power of emotion that stunned the entire audience.  It was as if the great God himself was smiling down upon us on that otherwise wet and windy Saturday evening.  But this was just a moment from the performance of a lifetime.  Tenor, James Oxley proved the perfect Gerontius to Diana’s Angel and he sang it all from memory.  Both singers acted their roles with commitment and understanding of the drama.  This did not detract from Quentin Hayes role of Priest and Angel of the Agony, sung from the perfect position of the pulpit.  His authoritative operatic baritone sailed to every corner of our great cathedral.  A perfect trio!

Guest conductor Brian Kay was delighted with the performance.  He praised all the performers and the Chorus Master for both the Southampton Choral Society, and the Renaissance Choir – who sang the semi-chorus.  (Peter Gambie is Musical Director of both choirs.)

The Southern Pro Musica provided the orchestral force of distinction.  They showed a total understanding of Elgar’s complex orchestration that is so often absent in internationally renowned orchestras.  A big thank you needs to be said to their Musical Director, Jonathan Willcocks, for his background work with the orchestra.

I even heard one of the Choral Society’s longer-term members commenting about a previous performance in 1966, with a very young Janet Baker as the Angel:

‘Well, it was equally as good as that performance … No! I think it was even better!

Well-done, Southampton Choral Society for organising such a truly wonderful performance and an evening to remember for many years to come.

David Pearce