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Rugby Philharmonic Choir  Since 1867

Rugby Philharmonic Choir

Rugby Philharmonic Choir has been proudly performing in the heart of the town since 1867.   Furnished with an eclectic repertoire and a chorus of over 120 voices, the programme for the 2019 season reflects the origins of the choir and it’s progression over the years.

Rugby Philharmonic Choir Christmas Concert
‘Joy to the World’

Temple Speech Room, Saturday 14th December 2020

There was plenty of joy in evidence in this concert by the Rugby Philharmonic Choir.  Christmas is a time of nostalgia, anticipation and renewal, and the first part of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (the first half of this concert) is both familiar and yet always fresh and inspiring, reflecting on Advent and the Christmas story.  After the interval, Bob Chilcott’s ‘On Christmas Night’ offered this delightful pattern of familiarity and novelty, but in a late-twentieth-century way:  long-established songs and carols woven into an original and stylistically very varied series of pieces on the theme of ‘truth sent from above’. 

RPC Christmas Concert 2019 master flier A4_200

It encouraged the audience to await the next ‘Phil’ concert in April with eagerness  -  Chilcott’s ‘St John Passion’.  Then, again, in the Vaughan Williams’ versions of three traditional carols, the choir gave us tradition, but wrapped with the early twentieth-century richness characteristic of this composer.  As always at this time of year, Mervyn Bethell, the musical director,  gave the audience, as a finale,  their chance to join the expression of joy in closing carols.
The choir was in fine form.  Their distinctive formation on stage, with a phalanx of male voices in the centre, helped achieved balance and energy in both sensitive and full-throttle moods. 

The choir was in fine form.  Their distinctive formation on stage, with a phalanx of male voices in the centre, helped achieved balance and energy in both sensitive and full-throttle moods.  The impact of their very first Handel chorus, ‘And the Glory of the Lord’, was terrific, and set their pattern for the evening.  They showed versatility:    the tough intricacies of ‘His Yoke is easy’, the very disparate demands of quirky rhythms and sonorous smoothness in the Chilcott, the joyousness of ‘O Holy Night’  -  the whole range was distinctively expressed.

Expressive too were the visiting soloists – many of them regular performers with the RPC.  The four singers brought out varied dramatic moods in the demanding solos of the ‘Messiah’  -  Jack Dolan and John Fletcher, the tenor and bass, were declamatory and prophetic, with notable clarity;  Emma Griffiths the soprano an ethereal angel;  Chloe Underwood, the alto, confiding and reflective.  Emma and Jack also featured after the interval ( the soprano and choir in Chilcott’s ‘A Spotless Rose’ was a highlight ), and their insistence (according to the conductor) on sharing the solos in ’O Holy Night’ resulted in a lovely sound.  Jo Foote, the RPC repetiteur, and James Williams on the organ, sustained their high standard of accompaniment, and the original vision of Handel for an intimate orchestra with the Messiah was maintained by a small ensemble of players from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.  

All this was in the growing tradition of exciting Philharmonic Christmases, and the large audience got their joy in equally large quantities.

Come and join us...


Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings from 7.30 - 9.30pm at the United Reformed Church, Hillmorton Road, Rugby.
New members are very welcome. If you would like to join the choir, please come along to rehearsals.
Please print and complete a New Members Form and bring it along with you.
 

Rugby Philharmonic Choir.  Contact Mervyn Bethell at musicaldirector@rugbyphilharmonic.org.uk

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© Rugby Philharmonic Choir 1867 - 2020 
Updated January 2020