John retired from the choir recently, having contributed heavily to Hart Voices’ success over the years, so we asked him to share some thoughts about what it has meant to him…..
I joined the choir, then called Hart Choral Society, in May 2001.
My wife had died at the beginning of that year, and so the choir became a big part of the new phase in my life.
Memories come rushing in: the Messiah of course; St John’s Passion; Durufle’s Requiem; pieces from Roy’s cathedral repertoire; and most moving of all, Brahms Ein Deutches Requiem which we sang with The Chantry Singers in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford in March 2014.
So much choral music is religious, with many of our concerts being performed in wonderful church acoustics and as a Christian, I have been grateful for this combination of artistic beauty and spiritual meaning. Of course, we have sung a great deal of secular music too, usually in the summer concerts when programmes are somewhat lighter; with nimble rhythms & often unexpected harmonies, it takes a lot of rehearsal to get it right, while giving the impression of careless ease! Favourites notably include I’m a Train, Battle of Jericho, Fields of Gold and a crazy version of Country Gardens.
I joined Hart Voices just before Roy became Musical Director: regular audience members will have noticed how the quality of the Choir has improved under his ambitious leadership.
Having been Treasurer of the choir and then Chairman for four years, the biggest event of those years was taking the lead in arranging the Centenary Chorus - a consortium of five local choirs performing Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Guildford Cathedral, which was a huge success!
However, what gives me most pleasure from my time in office with the Choir is having made the link with the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice and starting the Hart Voices tradition of devoting the annual Christmas Concert to their benefit.
I shall miss the excitement of concert days: the anticipation of afternoon rehearsals as it all comes together; apprehension as the audience arrives; the drama and tension of singing as the music unfolds in all its beauty; and then relaxing with the rest of the choir in the pub afterwards.