Spring 2024 Concert

Concert on 12 May 2024 with Dvorak Mass in D and Charpentier Te Deum

All Saints’ Church Sutton Courtenay | Music Director Sebastion Thomson

Dvořák: Mass in D
Charpentier: Te Deum

7:30 pm Sunday 12th May 2024

Tickets £15 – to include programme – from:
or 07870 506774,
Hari & Esha’s in Sutton Courtenay or
the Bookstore, Bury Street, Abingdon or
from www.trybooking.com/uk/DDQK

Christmas 2023 Concert

All Saints' Singers Christmas Concert 2023

Come to our concert on 10th December 2023 in All Saints’ Church,
Sutton Courtenay (OX14 4AE)

Tickets £15 – to include programme
From: or 07870 506774,
Hari & Esha’s in Sutton Courtenay or the Bookstore, Bury Street, Abingdon or
from the TryBooking website

Patrick Salisbury Prize Winner 2023

Left-to-right: Esme, winner of the 2023 Patrick Salisbury Prize for Endeavour with Sandra who presented the prize and Oliver, Esme’s instructor.

Sandra recently presented the Patrick Salisbury Prize for Endeavour at the Matrix Art Centre in Sutton Courtenay. Esme Nkum is this year’s recipient. Her instructor, Oliver, had this to say:

Esme is an enthusiastic member of the music class, often volunteering to answer questions and demonstrate the answer. Her commitment to practicing at home and sharing her achievements with friends makes her a deserving nominee. Keep it up, Esme!

Summer 2023 Update

Recent Concert

The All Saints’ Singers had a very successful concert on March 26th in All Saints’ Church, Sutton Courtenay. We performed Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle – a piece that is neither little, being 85 minutes long, and not at all solemn! We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly singing such a wonderful piece of music. We were accompanied superbly by Shean Bowers on the harmonium and Malcolm Pearce on the piano. Our brilliant soloists were Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie (soprano), Clemmie Franks (alto), Dominic Bevan (tenor) and Michael Hickman (bass). We had many compliments and were very pleased with our performance.

Some of the choir enjoyed the Matrix Consort in the early part of the summer term, singing for a few weeks with Sebastian Thomson, while others had a little rest ready for the autumn singing.

The choir continues to grow, both in numbers and in confidence, as we stretch ourselves with more challenging choral pieces.

Advent Concert

We meet together on Friday 8th September to start rehearsals for our Advent concert which will be held on 10th December in All Saints’ Church. We will be singing St. Nicholas Mass by Haydn, and Bob Chilcott’s piece “On Christmas Night”. As a break from our usual format we will be encouraging audience participation by interspersing the Chilcott pieces between more familiar Christmas carols. We hope as many as can will join us for this festive programme.

December 2022 Update

The choir has been busy since our last update. We had a very successful concert in All Saints’ Church on 20th November celebrating our 40th Anniversary. The programme included Vivaldi’s Magnificat and Schubert’s Mass in G as well as  two pieces by Purcell: ‘Thy Word is a Lantern’ and ‘Rejoice in the Lord Alway’. In addition, we sang a beautiful anthem by Patrick Salisbury – ‘O God the Protector of All That Trust in Thee’. Patrick was the founder of this choir and led it for many years, resigning as President in 2021. We were delighted that he was present at this concert and said a few words in support of the choir which has grown in recent months. He asked for an encore of the piece which allowed us a second chance to perform this delightful work, and to improve on our first attempt – It isn’t easy singing a composer’s work in front of him, but his encouragement inspired us.

We are grateful to Anna Shackleton, our current President, who wrote this critique:

Congratulations for such a wonderful 40th anniversary concert! A well-balanced and lively programme which you executed well. A particular ‘well done’ to the tenors!  

I felt the balance was generally good, although lower voices, basses in particular, could have given a little more welly in places. Altos seemed less confident in their entries. You need to try to steal the show when you have an exposed entry rather than shy away!  

The Vivaldi Magnificat was full of energy and started the concert with a bang, with some lovely, well-controlled crescendos and beautiful well-supported quiet singing. Movement three had slightly less confident entries from the altos and tenors when more exposed. The final unison movement I felt could have been a little faster and with a tad more zing, as it petered out slightly towards the end until the final ‘amen’ came along, but was nonetheless a good finale to the piece.  

The Schubert started with great poise. It was well-supported and the intonation was secure throughout. It seemed more confident than the Purcell ‘Thy word is a lantern’ which had several intonation slips and some less assured entries.  

I would say breathing could be lower (relaxed abdominal breathing) to get a fuller, more resonant sound and will help you to feel more ‘together’ as a choir. Worth practicing breathing together with low belly breaths (if you don’t already!).  

I very much enjoyed the second rendition of Patrick Salisbury’s work ‘O God the protector of all that trust in thee’. Very heartfelt and varied in colour, and wonderful to see Patrick there. I won’t say anything about the first go..!  

I absolutely loved the final Purcell, ‘Rejoice in the Lord’. The first entries could have had more confidence, but this seemed to grow and grow into a warm and spirited ending that was full of joy. 

We were proud of our performance but pleased to have our weaknesses identified and to have ideas on how we can work towards improvement.

Over the last year we have welcomed quite a few new members whose voices have enhanced our choir considerably. We are now sufficiently confident to attempt Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle on 26th March 2023 and are looking forward to starting rehearsals on 6th January 2023.

Patrick Salisbury Prize for Musical Endeavour

Another piece of news which we have not yet reported is the presentation of the first Salisbury Music Prize for Musical Endeavour. This prize was established from money raised by the choir and friends on the occasion of Patrick Salisbury’s retirement from the presidency of the All Saints’ Singers in 2021, to show appreciation of his many years of service. It is to be awarded every year to a child in Sutton Courtenay who has shown the greatest musical endeavour. The Matrix Music Centre also contributed something to the fund and were instrumental in recommending the winner.

We are delighted to announce that the first Patrick Salisbury Prize for Musical Endeavour was awarded to Isla Clark. She received the prize in a small private ceremony on 20th July 2022 and had the thrill of speaking personally on Zoom to Patrick Salisbury who spoke the nomination. She was joined at the Matrix by her parents and sister, by Lindsay MacKenzie, manager of the Matrix, Antonia King, her teacher, and by Sandra Knowles, Chairman of All Saints’ Singers Sutton Courtenay. Isla was presented with a certificate and a book token.

This is her nomination:

I nominate Isla Clark for her achievement in her first year of music: for her hard work, overcoming challenges, and her enthusiasm in class, culminating in a great result for her first piano exam. Well done Isla!

Isla hopes to spend some of the token on a book of piano arrangements of Harry Potter music.

Spring 2022 Post-Concert Update

We did it!  We had our first concert recently, after more than two years because of Covid.  It was hard work, but also great fun, and the choir members thoroughly enjoyed both the preparation and the final concert, which was performed in All Saints’ Church, Sutton Courtenay on 22nd May.  It was wonderful to see the church full of an audience who seemed to enjoy their evening.  

We were very happy with our performance, and it was good to read an independent review by Alison Langton:

All Saints’ Singers Concert, Sunday 22 May

Live choral music returned to All Saints’ church with a wonderful programme of music performed by the All Saints’ Singers – their first concert since the Covid lockdown. The choir’s Music Director Sebastian Thomson gave the choir clear direction throughout and had clearly prepared his singers with thorough and effective rehearsals; and the concert was ably accompanied by organist Ben Giddens.

The choir gave a spirited and committed performance of sacred music by Mozart, Haydn and Vivaldi. The opening piece was the Missa Brevis in C by Mozart (K220) – nicknamed the Sparrow Mass because some of the accompaniment has been likened to the chirping of these birds – with contribution from the evening’s soloists: Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie (soprano), Clemmie Franks (alto), Dominic Bevan (tenor), and Michael Hickman (bass). There were a couple of late entries in the opening movement – any choir could be forgiven for a little rustiness in performance after such a long layoff – but these were soon forgotten during the emotionally charged later movements where soloists and choir interacted well.

Next we had the ever-popular Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart (K618) which was beautifully delivered to a spell-bound audience. The Te Deum in C major by Haydn completed the first half of the concert, a piece taken in a single continuous movement and requiring some vocal stamina, especially the final section Non Confundar in Aeternum. Often this work can seem rushed owing to over-fast tempi, but this performance was taken steadily and benefitted from the singers’ clear annunciation of the Latin text.

After an interval for drinks, the second half of the concert was devoted to Vivaldi. First Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie gave a beautiful rendition of the sublime motet Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera (RV630). The evening finished with the wonderful Gloria in D (RV630) – one of Vivaldi’s best-loved works. Some of the movements were taken at a rather pedestrian pace but overall it was an effective performance.

It was clear from the smiles of the audience, choir, and soloists that this was a very enjoyable and well-received concert.

We feel optimistic about future performances and are planning a 40th anniversary one in November.

The Summer Term

Members of the choir are going to meet up for six sessions singing folk songs directed by Sebastian Thomson.

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