Rugby Philharmonic Choir

Recent Events

Handel’s Messiah

What a joy it was to hear Handel’s Messiah performed here in Rugby! The Rugby Philharmonic Choir, under it’s gifted conductor Lawrence Panter, performed it in the Temple Speech Room on 16th December 2023. Congratulations to the Choir who worked hard in the preparation of this work, and who performed it with their characteristic vigour and skill. 

Each of the four soloists (Phillippa Hyde, Gaynor Keeble, James Beddoe and Samuel Lom) were superb – as was the playing of the Rugby Philharmonic Sinfonia. 

Zimbe: Saturday 8th July 2023

The Rugby Philharmonic Choir’s Summer Concert on the 8th July was a joy to attend!

In the first half of the concert the audience was treated to a range of well-loved songs by Paul Simon and the Beatles. While clearly a delight for those ‘of a certain age’ – both on the stage and in the audience – this sequence also offered a journey of musical discovery for those who were younger.

‘Come sing the songs of Africa!’: the second half of the concert, under the skilful eye and ear of the choir’s conductor Dr Richard Dunster-Sigtermans, erupted with the performance of ‘Zimbe!’, This work, composed by Alexander L’Estrange in 2008, featured a range of songs from different parts of south and west Africa. Each one evoked raw, truly African expressions of life ranging from songs of joy and of sorrow to those of protest. The choir valiantly performed this work in its different African languages! They were ably supported by the gifted performers of the Rugby Philharmonic’s Jazz Quintet.

The stars of the show were, however, the children of the ‘Dunchurch Boughton Junior School Music Ambassadors,’ under the direction of their gifted music teacher Louise Fairbrother. She described ‘Zimbe!’ as an ‘exuberant, vibrant piece that epitomises just how powerful and transcending music can be.’ Most of these children sang the songs of ‘Zimbe!’ by heart. They did so with amazing energy, and clearly loved doing so – as did the adult performers who were standing behind them.

For the performers and audience alike this occasion was one that will be remembered for a long time to come. The awesome setting of Rugby School’s Temple Speech Room was the perfect setting for it.

The level of applause at the end of the concert said it all. Congratulations and thanks to all who took part in it!’

Spring 2023 : Haydn’s ‘The Creation’

What a performance! The performance of Haydn’s much-loved Oratorio ‘Creation’ in the Temple Speech Room on the 2nd April was masterful – a worthy successor to previous performances there, including those under the baton of my late father, Marcus Beresford.

The Rugby Philharmonic Choir and Sinfonia, under its gifted conductor Dr Richard Dunster-Sigtermans, gave a performance that was full of vibrancy and colour – a joy to listen to.

Following the portrayal of the disorder and chaos that preceded the great act of creation the three soloists (Philippa Hyde, Laurence Panter and Mike Dewis) skilfully portrayed the first four ‘days’ of creation. This was followed by their portrayal of the appearance of birds, fish, beasts and insects – not forgetting ‘…in long dimension creeps with sinuous traces the worm!’

Then, finally, came humankind – the ‘crown’ of God’s creation. The work concluded with Adam and Eve being portrayed in their first innocent hours of life in God’s newly created world. Each ‘day’ concluded with a rousing chorus – including the Creation’s best known one: ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God, The firmament displays the wonder of his works.’

Alongside all the other music that Joseph Haydn wrote the Creation remains his masterpiece. After one and a half years working on the score the Creation was first performed in 1799. It was at a performance of this work that Haydn made his final appearance. At its close, following rapturous applause, Haydn is reputed to have said: ‘It is not from me: everything comes from ‘up there’!’

In our day, when the literal description of the creation as recorded in Genesis chapter one is widely questioned, there is a refreshing innocence about the text that Haydn chose to set to music. To have a sense of re-kindled wonder and thankfulness is something from which all of us can learn – so to Joseph Haydn, and to each of the performers at this concert … THANK YOU!