St Albans Chamber Choir

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Our season starts again on November 2nd – see What’s On

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Fête Française, Saturday 6th July, 3pm

Our final concert of this season is on Saturday 6 July 2024 at 3pm in the newly remodelled St Peter’s Church, St Albans. Take a journey to France through music, wine and food. Thinking of famous French composers, Debussy comes near the top, with Ravel, Fauré and Saint-Saёns close behind. We’ve got all of those in this French choral celebration spanning the romantic …

Two Concerts on One Day, Saturday 8th June, 2024

Kids sing-along in St Albans (bring a grown-up), 3pm Homewood Road United Reformed Church, St Albans, AL1 4BH A very fun programme that will encourage youngsters to join in – we will have some shakers and organise some rounds singing, call-and-response, and other fun things. Songs to include: Revolting Children from Matilda, Teddy Bears Picnic, …

Wormser Kantorei Partnership

Review of the 2023 St Albans Chamber Choir in Liebfrauen

Article in Der Springende Punkt – Newspaper for a group of Catholic parishes in the north of Worms:

“Liebfrauenkirche (the Church of our Lady) was almost full when St Albans Chamber Choir gave a recital – “Abendmusik” – on Wednesday, 31st May 2023. The choir took the audience on a musical journey with “English Music through the Centuries”. Father Ambadan and Peter Ebersberger for the Parish Council welcomed the audience before the sixteen singers, under their sensitive and passionate conductor John Gibbons, created a sparkling and breath-taking carpet of sound which, supported by the extraordinary acoustics of Liebfrauenkirche, flooded the space with harmonies.

Different styles and compositions were performed. A piece by Henry Purcell from the 17th century was followed by a contemporary composition by John Gibbons – a new and unfamiliar listening experience, which was best enjoyed with closed eyes. The Chamber Choir moved completely securely and full of the joy of singing through the music of different centuries. It was pure pleasure to listen to those beautiful voices.

One of the highlights, if not the highlight, was “The Lark Ascending”, during which one of the sopranos played the violin. Like in a musical picture the bird was made visible for the inner eye, its rise and fall, its trills and jubilations. Singing often without words and through long and floating chords did the Choir “paint” the scenes, with the notes of the violin soaring along with those of the choir.

The audience applauded after every piece and at the end the well-deserved “standing ovations” with enthusiastic lengthy applause. As a thank-you the Conductor was presented with a bottle of wine from the Liebfrauenstift Kirchenstück (the wine that grows around the church) and a gift. This was not the first and, hopefully, not the last concert performed by this wonderful choir in Liebfrauenkirche!

In einer fast voll besetzten Liebfrauenkirche gestaltete der St Albans Chamber Choir seine musikalische Reise “English Music through the Centuries”. Pfarrer Ambadan und Peter Ebersberger für den Pfarrgemeinderat begrüßten die Besucherinnen und Besucher und dann entfalteten die 16 Sängerinnen und Sänger des Chores, einfühlsam und leidenschaftlich geführt von Chorleiter John Gibbons, einen funkelnden und temberaubenden Klangteppich, der durch die außergewöhnliche Akkustik der Liebfrauenkirche den Raum mit Harmonien flutete.

Unterschiedliche Stile und Kompositionen wechselten einander ab, auf ein Stück von Henry Purcell aus dem 17. Jhd. folgte eine zeitgenössische Komposition von John Gibbons – ein neues und ungewohntes Klangerlebnis, das man am Besten mit geschlossenen Augen genoß. Der Chamber Choir bewegte sich absolut sicher und voller Sangesfreude durch die Musik aller Jahrhunderte, es war ein reines Vergnügen, den schönen Stimmen zu lauschen.

Als (einen) Höhepunkt des Konzerts darf man sicher “The Lark Ascending” – “Die aufsteigende Lerche” – bezeichnen, bei der eine Sängerin des Ensembles die Geige spielte. Wie in einem musikalischen Bild wurde der Vogel vor dem inneren Auge sichtbar gemacht, sein Steigen und Fallen, sein Trillern und Jubilieren. Oft ohne Worte und nur mit lange schwebenden Akkorden sang oder “malte” der Chor die Szenen, umschwirrt von den Tönen der Violine.

Nach jedem Stück gab es Applaus und am Ende des Konzerts die verdienten standing ovations mit lange anhaltendem Klatschen. Eine Flasche guten Weines aus dem Liebfrauenstift Kirchenstück und ein Umschlag mit kleinem “Danke schön” wurden stellvertretend dem musikalischen Direktor John Gibbons überreicht.

Es war dies nicht das erste und hoffentlich auch nicht das letzte Konzert dieses wundervollen Chores in der Liebfrauenkirche!” – Peter Ebersberger

Personal review of the 2023 trip:

“The Worms choir exchange went like a dream. Our hosts were just brilliant. We started chatting and laughing as soon as we arrived and continued for 5 days constantly apart from singing and sleeping!

the LiebenfrauKirche had such an amazing acoustic that some pieces were almost twice as long: waiting for the long notes to echo back to us and diminish, before starting a new phrase, gave O Radiant Dawn a whole new feel. It was a magical experience to sing there and blend with our subset of SACC members, and be so well received by the local audience.” – Pauline Roby

SACC’s partnership with the Wormser Kantorei

On 25th April 2019, St Albans Chamber Choir and the Wormser Kantorei from St Albans’ twin town of Worms in southern Germany celebrated fifty years of joint biennial concerts with a Golden Jubilee concert in St Albans Abbey, at the end of another wonderful week of singing and socialising with old and new friends.

The proud half-century of friendship and music-making started with a town-twinning visit to Worms by the Chamber Choir in 1969, and since then there has been an uninterrupted series of visits, making music and enjoying one another’s company. 

The partnership enables the two choirs to perform larger-scale works than would normally be the case in our respective cities, and over the years we have become two of the few amateur choirs to be able to follow musical direction in two languages.

Among the most memorable concerts the joint choirs have given over the years was the performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in 1985. The work was originally written for the bombed and rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, and in 1985 was performed in the bombed and rebuilt Dreifaltigkeitskirche in Worms, with the choirs led by the two conductors whose own personal friendship did so much to establish and nurture the link, Tobias Ihle and Richard Stangroom.

There have been many fine musical occasions since then, notably our two performances, in St Albans and in Worms, of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony. We expect even more in the future, as we continue to forge ahead under our current directors, John Gibbons and Stefan Merkelbach.

The town-twinning between Worms and St Albans was launched in 1957 and its motto is Ad multos annos; the Chamber Choir and the Kantorei look forward to many more years of music-making and fellowship.