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KEMS Choir

Major works performed by the KEMS choir in the 2016/17 season
• Beethoven: Mass in C (First Performance by KEMS)
• Handel: Christmas Music from ‘Messiah’
• Selection of favourite choruses from opera / oratorio for 60th Anniversary Concert
• Todd: Mass in Blue (First Performance by KEMS)

KEMS Choir Music Director Ian Chesworth writes:
We began our 60th Season with a work never previously performed by KEMS, Beethoven Mass in C and what a choral delight it was with masterful choral writing both for the choir and the solo quartet. Joined by soloists from the RNCM, the choir appreciated the directness of the music and were well prepared for the November Concert allowing quite a bit of detailed work to be done on the work’s many nuances.

‘Messiah’, the first work performed by the embryonic society, was revisited for the Christmas Concert, excerpting the appropriate seasonal music interspersed with readings of some of the solo numbers by Roger Livesey. Overall, I felt this worked particularly well and particularly highlighted the beautiful choral writing. The second half consisted of well known carols and also a new arrangement (for KEMS) of ‘Winter Wonderland’ for choir and orchestra.

In the New Year, we were able to begin work on the May Concert (Will Todd’s Mass in Blue) as rehearsal time following the Gala event in April was limited and interrupted by Bank Holidays. Work began in earnest for the Gala Concert in February and the choir admirably coped with the differing musical styles of Mozart, Tippett, Verdi etc. The Gala Concert itself was a great success and a special mention must be made to the people that stage-managed the event (in particular Steve and Barbara Kleiser) as the challenges of seating choir, orchestra and band in the concert hall were considerable. I am sure that all concerned are glad the event doesn’t happen every year! Our programme consisted of music excerpted from works we have performed over the last 60 years: a ‘choral pops’. All went down exceptionally well with both choir and audience.

To finish the season, another new work for KEMS, Will Todd’s ‘Mass in Blue’. The Mass is becoming firmly established in the modern choral repertoire from its initial release by the composer’s own publishing company to it now being available through Oxford University Press. Rather than our usual orchestral forces, the Mass is scored for a Jazz Quartet with a jazz soprano soloist (provided by the RNCM). The music, well written for choir in a jazz style is immediately appealing to an audience but has its fair share of difficult moments. Luckily, the preparation we did earlier in the year put us in good stead to get the work on track and all went well on the day but a few extra weeks of rehearsals would have allowed the work to be truly into everyones bones. I found the concert itself to be very interesting: a late afternoon start and a jazz programme attracted a whole new audience with a very different demographic to our “regulars”. The quartet and soloist performed both before and after which gave the whole event a relaxed feel. Everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed the performance and I hope we will be able to do something similar in the future. Again, my thanks to the committee in supporting me in this 'out of the box' suggestion and to Anne and Scott Thompson for bringing together all the details including securing sponsorship.  

Plans for 2017/18 include the Bernstein Chichester Psalms with the Vivaldi Gloria in November. The big choral concert in April 2018 will feature Mozart Requiem and Solemn Vespers. We are also laying plans for a big concert in March 2019 with the Shrewsbury Choral Society (two concerts over two weekends) of Elgar’s ‘The Kingdom’. Overall, an excellent season.  

Why not join us? 
Singing in a choir is very rewarding and is great fun too. KEMS are always happy for new singers to join us, without audition. If you fancy joining us please telephone Steve Kleiser (01625 431 544) or send us an e-mail by clicking here.