In the news

St John’s choir are making the news. This on Salisbury diocese webpage.

Devizes Choir Rocks St Paul’s
09 Jan, 2017 02:32 PM
Wilts choir with big youth membership sings Choral Evensong at historic London cathedral

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Devizes Choir Rocks St Paul’s

2017 began with a bang for the choir and congregation of St John’s, Devizes, as 120 excited members of the church community headed to London on Wednesday 4 January to hear their choir sing Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The 22 children and 18 adults of the choir were joined by past members who returned specially for the occasion, taking the group to over 50 members. The excitement was furthered when good luck wishes were received over the airwaves from Tim Lihoreau on Classic FM and Petroc Trelawny on BBC Radio 3.

Having warmed up underground in the Choir Practice Room, just off the Crypt, it was soon time to head up to the Cathedral Floor to experience the incredible acoustics of St Paul’s, constantly checking the balance with visiting organist, Paul Carr, being led through the responses with the Precentor, Canon Michael Hampel, and rehearsing the procession with the Vergers.

At 5 pm, led out by Head Chorister, Chloe Hanna, the choir processed round to their places to find the dome and. Choir areas packed with supporters and tourists, including a visiting group of young schoolchildren from Dobwalls in Cornwall. The cathedral’s acoustics rang to the glorious sounds of Philip Moore’s Responses, a dramatic set of Psalms, Stanford’s majestic C major Evening Canticles and, last but not least, Mathias’s Sir Christèmas – a firm favourite among the youngsters!

St John’s Director of Music, Chris Totney, said,

“The feeling afterwards was one of both ecstasy and virtual disbelief, as a day that had been looked forward to for so many months had come and gone in a flash. But with elated supporters describing the service as ‘amazing’ and ‘breathtaking’ on the journey home, this was certainly one of those days that will live long in the memory for everyone who was fortunate enough to experience it.

‘As Psalm 150 aptly puts it, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!”’

Canon Paul Richardson, Rector of St John with St Mary, Devizes, added “They were great. This was a great experience for all the choir, and especially the youngsters. I am immensely proud of their achievements. There was a huge congregation with many tourists and none of them left disappointed.”

 

A DEVIZES choir ranging in age from seven to 80 has sung in one of the country’s most prestigious cathedrals after receiving a letter out of the blue from St Paul’s in London.

Director of music at St John’s Church Chris Totney was delighted when his choir came to the notice of the powers that be at the iconic cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673.

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Mr Totney said: “St John’s Church Choir received a letter from St Paul’s Cathedral nine months ago inviting us to sing the traditional service of Evensong. News of their adventure spread to national radio, with both Classic FM and BBC Radio 3 wishing us good luck live on air on the morning of the performance.”

The choir made up of 22 children and 18 adults was joined by ten more singers most of whom were past members. Around another 80 parents, relatives and church members also made the journey to London to offer support.

Mr Totney said: “The choir was complimented on a superbly executed performance by the regular worshippers and clergy of St Paul’s as they sang music by British composers William Mathias, Philip Moore and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford to a congregation of around 300 people.

“The choir has now sung services at seven different cathedrals in the past four years. It’s not every day that the staff of somewhere as reputable as St Paul’s come knocking at your door to present you with this kind of offer.

“The acoustics of the building are incredible and produce an echo of around ten seconds, so the effect is spine-chilling. The choir has worked really hard over the last few years to reach a standard that brings opportunities like this and the day will certainly live long in the memory of everyone who was lucky enough to be there.”

The choir rehearses on a Friday evening and is open to new members. Mr Totney said he felt TV programmes made by Gareth Malone had helped to make choirs more popular but he thought the main reason for people joining his was word of mouth. He said: “People usually join as they hear about it from a friend and want to become part of it.”

In addition to special concerts the St John’s Choir sings during the Sunday morning services.

Usually St Paul’s has its own Cathedral Choir leading the singing but a spokesman said: “The Cathedral Choir consists of 30 boy treble choristers, eight probationers and 12 Vicars Choral – all professional adult singers who sing alto, tenors and bass.

“During Cathedral Choir holidays, and on certain other days during term time we are glad to be able to welcome visiting choirs to sing the services in St Paul’s.

“In the past year, many non-professional choirs have come to sing at St Paul’s – including parish churches, schools, colleges and concert choirs. Some have come from as far afield as Canada, Hong Kong and the USA.”

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