Monday, 15 October 2012

As Time Goes By...

Sorry, sorry. I know that I should have been updating far more often than I have been, my apologies.
Rehearsals are going well, note bashing is complete now for the most part, and we're trying to inject some shape and style into the pieces for our next concert. Bits of the Mozart and Handel pieces are sounding really good and the Parry is also getting there.

It had got to that time of year last week, the Christmas music books were handed out and we had a bit of a sing through some potential pieces for the Christmas concert. Not your standard Christmas carols but something a bit different, some immediately likeable, others more...challenging. It's a funny thing though, I've never actually ended up disliking any of the pieces I've sung with the choir since I joined and the challenging pieces are usually the ones you feel most smug about singing well on the night!

Tickets for the next concert are now available, as ever please see the website for more details or contact a member of the Chorale.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What's left of summer but a faded rose?

The kids are back at school, the weather has taken a turn for the worse and the Chorale have started rehearsals again after the summer break.

Rehearsals actually started last week, but I was enjoying the last rays of summer up in Northumberland so this week was my first week back. We had a run through of most of the pieces for the next concert in November and as usual it was mostly note-bashing. I got a bit concerned when it seemed as though any proficiency I'd managed in sight-reading had abandon me during the holidays, the first couple of goes were a bit scary - a case of hang on for dear life and just keep singing, but I was getting the hang of it towards the end.

Pieces for the next concert include Handel's  The King Shall Rejoice and Zadok the Priest, as well as other works by Mozart and Parry. I have to admit, like the Hallelujah chorus, I'm really looking forward to running Zadok for the first time.

Tickets for the concert will be available soon, and if you'd like to come along and join us on Tuesday nights at 7.30 at Westcliffe Church, Shipley, we'd be glad to see you.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

We're all going on a Summer Holiday

So it's grey skys and rain all round, summer must be here!

The Chorale's summer concert at St Paul's Church went really well, though the audience was a little smaller than we had hoped. Those that did join us were not only treated to the Chorale's pieces, but some very impressive organ and piano pieces from our guests as well.

The mix of pieces, which at least at rehearsal stage had seemed a bit ... eclectic made much more sense in performance order, starting with the formal ceremonial music and ending with the lighter pieces. All in all an excellent evening's music and lovely start to the summer holidays.

We start rehearsals again on the first Tuesday of September, and as ever, should you be interested in joining us (men especially) please feel free to come along and have a sing. We'd be glad to see you.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Two out of three ain't bad...

On Tuesday we started by running both of My Heart is Inditing and Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened. Both consist of three pieces and strangely, with both, two out of the three sounded really good, the other one, not so much. Thankfully we've still got a couple of rehearsals to get things sorted. The other pieces for the concert are getting there too, we just need to enunciate more and get some more shape into things.

To whet your appetite for the concert, here's one of the pieces we're doing - and hopefully we'll sound just as good...

If you'd like tickets for the concert on 16th June at St. Paul's Church, Shipley, please go to the website or see any member of the Chorale.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Get ready for the Jubilee, Hooray, Hooray!

Hello again!

Sorry for the radio silence, I've been on holiday.

So a brief update on what's been happening. The concert on the 21st was a great success, with so many people turning up on the night that we ran out of tickets! All the reports I've heard said that it went very well and both audience members and members of the Chorale really enjoying performance of the Requiem.

Onwards and upwards to the June concert, which is on 16th June at St Paul's Church in Shipley. The concert is titled 'Anniversaries' so includes Coronation Anthems by Handel 'My heart is inditing' and 'Let thy hand be strengthened'. Thanks to the Chorale's website (check it out for more details on the Chorale) I've also learnt that 2012 is the 150th anniversary of Edward German, and the 100th anniversary of the death of Samuel Taylor-Coleridge, so the concert programme also includes some of their works.

Rehearsals are going well, as ever, for a newbie like me, the first few rehearsals of any new piece is very much a case of hanging onto the tune for dear life, but having done Messiah, the Handel stuff isn't quite so white-knuckle as usual. More of a tea-cup than a roller coaster. My new favourite though, is the Samuel Taylor-Coleridge piece 'The Viking Song' - it's completely daft, but makes a nice change.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

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Apologies for the delay, we've got internet issues at the house, so my access to the World Wide Web is sporadic, at best.

Tuesdays rehearsal went well, despite the relatively short notice (the Chorale normally have a week off after Easter) there was a fair number gathered to rehearse for the April concert. We ran two movements of the Faure Requiem, which seemed to go well, needing only minor tweaks. Our French and German is also improving and both Gott ist mein Hirt and Cantique de Jean Rancine are sounding far better than they were when we started. Just as well, as the concert is now less than a week away.

As ever, you can apply for tickets through the Chorale's website, or see any member of the Chorale.

Friday, 6 April 2012


Saturday's concert of the Messiah was a triumph! Many thanks to all those who turned out to support both the Chorale and the Reg Vardy brass band, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the afternoon rehearsal, so was slightly apprehensive about singing Messiah through with a brass band for the first time on the night, but I needn't have worried, it all sounded brilliant, especially our wonderful soloists. I did get a bit confused when Paul (our director and man-in-charge) turned to the audience and gestured for them to stand for the Hallelujah chorus. Apparently its a custom that dates back to the London premiere of Messiah, when according to belief, George II stood for the duration of the piece (thanks Sheila). Having never been to a performance of Messiah before, the sight of 197 people rising (some uncertainly) to their feet took me rather by surprise!

On Tuesday we were given our concert notes, mostly good (Hurrah!) and cracked on with preparations for the April concert, now only three weeks away!

The concert, which will consist of Faure's Requiem, Allegri's Miserere and other works, is on 21st April at St. Paul's Church in Shipley. As always, tickets are available from any member of the Chorale, or visit the website to order online.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

It's the final countdown...

Final rehearsal for Messiah went really well on Tuesday. We had a reverse run-through - starting at the end and working forward - and the majority of pieces sounded really good on the first run through. The only problem we had were some timing issues with 'Let us break their bonds' where we sounded a bit like we were trying to catch a train that had already left. It took us a couple of goes, but we got there in the end and it sounded great. I'm really looking forward to hearing the Reg Vardy Brass Band in full swing - once we all get together I think it'll sound amazing!

There are still some tickets available for the concert (though not many) so if you find yourself at a loose end on Saturday night, come along to Bradford Cathedral and indulge in a bit of culture.

See you there!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Back Where You Started From

Louise (the Chorale's publicity guru) has sent me the piece on the Chorale that appeared in one of the local magazines a couple of weeks ago, this time with added pictures!

Kathleen Sharp has been a member of The Bradford Chorale since its formation. Here she gives a brief, personal history of ‘Our Choir’.

‘The inaugural meeting of the choir took place of January 6th 1976 in the church hall of St James, Thornton, Bradford. The lady seated at a table by the door took my name/voice and handed me several pieces of music. The hall was quite full, being small, I found a place near the front.

There were to be no auditions, everyone had been personally invited by James Ashworth, the young man who was to be Musical Director and Mentor. He explained his ideas and ambitions for the choir, he hoped we would be able to give a performance around Eastertime. We would be known as ‘The Ashworth Singers’, rehearse every Tuesday in the hall, and pay a modest weekly subscription to defray costs.

We then sang through the pieces. I had not sung with such a large group of mixed voices before – it was very exciting! On my way home I determined, that whatever efforts I had to make, I wanted to sing with this choir.

The first concert was held on Maundy Thursday in St James. We sang ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ (Mozart), ‘Ave Maria’ (Bruckner) and ‘Requiem’ (Faure). I was on Cloud Nine! ‘NEW CHOIR MAKES FIRST CLASS DEBUT’ was the verdict of the local press.

(Photograph of ‘The James Ashworth Singers’ taken in 1976 at Thornton Parish Church )

New members were auditioned and on at least one occasion the whole choir, which produced some interesting results. One lady admitted that she couldn’t sing a note; she came to keep an eye on her husband!

When James decided he needed to concentrate on his personal singing career, an advertisement for a new conductor was placed in several local papers. In a short time several applications were received but the secretary thought that special attention should be paid to the one which included a reference from Sir Georg Sölti!! Thus Douglas Robinson (Robbie), retired chorus master of Covent Garden and lately of Huddersfield Choral came to us. As a result of a poll taken by the choir we became Bradford Chorale. Douglas ran a tight ship, Sunday afternoon extra rehearsals were scheduled when necessary. His last concert was a performance of ‘The Messiah’ for which he, the choir, and musicians were afforded a standing ovation.

     (Concert at Bradford Boys Grammar School c.1980/81 under Douglas Robinson OBE)

Since then we have had a number of conductors of varying ages, each with different ideas of performance. A few were gems, and we have such a one now. Paul has the vigour and daring to lead the choir down new and exciting paths. The future is bright, see our Future programmes leaflet.

I know of no better antidote to life’s woes than music making. So if you can, come and join us. If that is not possible, come to a concert and give us a hearing.’

  (Christmas Concert with the City of Bradford Brass Band in aid of The Lord Mayor’s Charity: Marie Curie Cancer Care, Bradford Hospice. December 2011 at Victoria Hall Saltaire)

Forthcoming concerts:

Handel's ‘Messiah’ in an arrangement for brass band and choir with the championship-winning Reg Vardy Band.

7:30pm, 31st March 2012, Bradford Cathedral.

A concert of European sacred music culminating in Fauré's beautiful setting of the ‘Requiem’.

7:30pm, 21st April 2012, St. Paul's Church, Shipley.

Further details from:

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wrong again

At this week's rehearsal we were running music for the April concert, not Messiah. Though thankfully I'd taken all my music to rehearsal or I would have been really stuck.
First though, we had the Chorale's AGM. It was the first AGM that I'd ever been to and I have to admit, I spent a lot of it trying to work out what was happening. By the end, we'd voted on everything that needed to be voted on and agreed everything that needed to be agreed, so I assume it went well.

Musically, progress was also made. Having run Requiem last week we spent this week concentrating on the other pieces for the April concert, including Gott ist mein Hirt and Cantique de Jean Rancine. Gott ist mein Hirt sounds really good notes-wise and the German is getting better, thanks to some teaching from Katharina, a native German speaker. To uneducated ears (mine) we're not mangling it quite as badly as we were, although whether it'll make any sense to those who do speak German remains to be seen. Cantique de Jean Rancine is also getting easier, though I still think it's strange that its taken me so long to get to grips with a language I thought I (vaugely) knew. We also had some linguistic gymnastics with the Latin verses of Miserere, too many consonants to fit in, but it's getting there.

Fingers crossed Messiah is also getting there - I realised that the two rehearsals I missed mean I've only been to half  of the rehearsals for the March concert and I'm mildly concerned that come next week, I won't be able to remember any of it!

Tickets for the Messiah concert are going well, if you haven't got any yet, contact any member of the Chorale, or click on the link to the Chorale's website and order online.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


I'm back from holiday and unfortunately a bit behind, which is why I'm posting about what happened last week today, just before tonight's rehearsal.

We ran Faure's Requiem for the first time last week, only missing out the soloist parts. The way we tend to rehearse means that we're always dotting around the pieces, and if you haven't sung it before and don't know the piece very well, it can be difficult to imagine how one piece is going to join up to the next one. Thankfully though, from my point of view it went quite well and sounded pretty good.

Hopefully I'll be able to say the same about Messiah tonight. For various reasons, I've missed a couple of Messiah rehearsals and it feels like forever since we had a sing though it. Bit scary considering the concert is only a couple of weeks away.

Speaking of which, if you'd like tickets for the Messiah concert, go to the Chorale website, or contact any member of the Chorale.

*Everyone, or in this case every piece.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Just a little bit of history repeating...

We were warned this week that our uninvited member, the fire alarm, might be making a reappearance as the brownies downstairs were making pancakes, though we were glad to find out that they now knew the code needed to turn it off!

We were rehearsing the music for the April concert this week and had a whistle stop tour through the majority of the pieces. Now we've got the notes pretty much sorted, we're starting to concentrate on putting dynamics and getting 'shape' into the music, which make it more interesting to sing and (hopefully) more interesting to listen to.

The fire alarm didn't make a reappearance thankfully, though the smell of pancakes was driving me batty by break. The ones I made after rehearsal unfortunately didn't live up to my expectations.

There won't be an update next week, I have a week's holiday so won't be at choir. Hopefully someone will update me with what's been going on with Messiah in my absence. Tickets for the Messiah concert (31st March, at Bradford Cathedral) are now available, so check out the website (see Links) for details.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Where have all the young men gone?

I had a slight surprise when I got to rehearsal last week, all the men had disappeared, and the Chorale appeared to have become ladies only.

It turned out that they had all gone downstairs (the luxury of two rehearsal spaces) to practise part of Faure's Requiem that they are singing alone while the ladies were doing the same in the main hall. The enforced  separation didn't last long and we spent the remainer of the rehearsal going through pieces for the concert after next.

I don't think that I was the only one having difficulty with the German words for Schubert's Gott ist mein Hirt as we were singing this difficult piece in English this week while everyone tried to get the right notes in the right order. It was sounding really good at the end of practise, but I think getting to grips with the German might take a bit longer.

We continue with music for the April concert at tonight's rehearsal, but a quick reminder that tickets for the Messiah concert (31st March, at Bradford Cathedral with the Reg Vardy Band) are available. Please contact any member of the Chorale or visit the website (in the Links box) to find out more.

Monday, 13 February 2012


Sorry for the silence, I was unable to make last weeks' rehearsal, so consequently can't report back on how it went.

Although I have heard that we welcomed a new Alto into our fold, which is great as we're always in need of more voices (especially men!) and that the rehearsal went quite well. Louise, our lovely publicity officer has also informed me that there's going to be a piece on the Chorale appearing quite soon in one of the freebie papers, so keep an eye out for that. I'll try and transcribe it when I've got my hands on a copy.

Hopefully service will be resumed next (this) week!

* Apologies to the musical, who may be wincing at the incorrect use of the musical term, I'm blaming Wiki!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

More than words

We took a break from Messiah this week to start rehearsals for the concert after next (we’re very organised in the Chorale) which will consist of Faure’s Requiem and pieces from the European Sacred Music book.

Like Messiah, Requiem is a piece that many members of the Chorale have sung before, but on first run-through it seems much trickier than Messiah. Where Handel likes long runs of notes, Faure has sharps and flats floating about, and if, like me, your sight reading isn’t too clever, it takes some concentration to get them all in the right order. The finished effect though is lovely, clashing chords resolving to harmonious ones.
After the nice surprise that was the fact Messiah is sung in English, this week brought another one. Among the pieces we’re doing from the European Sacred Music book, we have songs in French and German as well as Latin. I did French at school, also did a couple of years of German (very badly), so singing in it is bound to be easier than Latin (which I’ve never studied before), isn’t it?
Well no, actually. It seems some kind of Pavlovian shift has happened in my head since I joined the Chorale, because the Latin made loads more sense than the other two. Strange isn’t it?
If you’d like tickets for the Messiah Concert (31st March, Bradford Cathedral) please contact a member of the Chorale, visit the website or e-mail

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Ring out, wild bells...

We had an extra, and not entirely welcome member join the Chorale this week. The fire alarm of Northcliffe Church decided to get in on the act and upstage our rehearsals. After trying valiantly to out-sing the shrill bleeping in a completely different key, everyone breathed a sigh of relief when, after opening the doors to dispense the smell of burnt toast, it shut up and we could continue in peace.

We've now covered the majority of the pieces that will make up our version of Messiah, though I'll admit that I'm looking forward to the first time we run the Hallelujah chorus, (yes THAT Hallelujah chorus) as it's the only piece I'd heard of before we started rehearsals!

Tickets for the concert have been released (31st March, at Bradford Cathedral with the Reg Vardy Band) so if you'd like to come along, contact any member of the Chorale, or e-mail the website.

We have a break from Handel next week, as we start on the music for the following concert, including Faure's Requiem.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Far too many notes for my taste...*

This Tuesday saw the Chorale's first rehearsal in our new home at Northcliffe Church, where the higher ceiling meant we lost the echoing acoustic of our old rehearsal space and sounded less like we were singing in the bathroom! We had some additional members this week for Messiah and it was great to see a couple of extra men (although we could always do with more, so if you sing tenor or bass and fancy singing with us check the website, for details.)

I have to admit, I began to feel slightly out of my depth this week with a couple of the pieces we rehearsed. There's so many long runs of notes that if I didn't really concentrate it was easy to completely lose track of where we were (and my rubbish sight-reading was no help at all). Paul's solution to fudged entries - lose the words - and suddenly it made more sense, made us all sound slightly mad, using 'be' throughout, but it really helped to get to grips with some of the tricky phrasing without worrying if everyone was getting their p's in the right places. Thankfully, 'For we like sheep' is one of the harder pieces we're doing in this version of Messiah.

Speaking of which, we found out the running order of pieces that will make up our Messiah, so the mild panic I felt when I read the listings page (53 pieces!) calmed as we're doing 13 of them.

*  I am joking, Handel knew what he was doing...

Friday, 13 January 2012


The Chorale's lovely Publicity department has just sent through these photos of The Bradford Chorale's busy Christmas. (Thanks Louise)

Singing at the Bradford Industrial Museum.

Entertaining diners at the Morrisons' Christmas Dinner.

The grand finale: the Christmas concert at Victoria Hall, Saltaire
with the City of Bradford Brass Band.

New Year, New Music, New Blog

 There's something about Christmas that demands a choir. Like mince pies and mulled wine, choral Christmas music just sounds Right. Which meant The Bradford Chorale had a very busy festive season, with 5 carol singing events and our own Christmas concert. With the amazing City of Bradford Brass Band, the audience's generosity meant we raised a fantastic £4oo for Marie Curie Cancer Care. And, on a personal level, it was the first time I'd heard a brass band play live and was just brilliant.

After a short Christmas break, this Tuesday saw the Chorale ready to face our new pieces, Faure's Requiem, Handel's Messiah and pieces from the book of European Sacred Music, in preparation for our next 2 concerts. The first of which is Handel's Messiah (with added brass band, this time from The Reg Vardy Band) on 31st March at Bradford Cathedral.

The first few rehearsals of any piece are mainly note-bashing, but the Messiah is one of those that many members have sung before, so (as a first-timer) I was surprised at how good it sounded on the first run through. Another surprise was that it's all in English! That'll teach me for not looking at my music before rehearsals, but there we are. No obscure Latin phrasing to try and get my head (and voice) around!

Next week we move from Saltaire Methodist Chapel to our new home at Northcliffe Church. There's loads more room, so if you fancy joining us for Messiah, please look at the website ( for details.