Rugby Philharmonic Choir

Recent Events

At the end of an English road: 23rd March 2024

‘At The End Of An English Road’. What an evocative and appropriately named title this was for the Concert that took place in Rugby School’s Temple Speech Room on Saturday 23rd March.
The Rugby Philharmonic Choir and Sinfonia, under their gifted conductor Laurence Panter, offered all present a programme of music full of variety and depth. This was reflected in the programme’s sub-heading: ‘A Lenten programme of English Choral works featuring the John Rutter Requiem and favourites by Purcell, Byrd, Parry and more.’
The music that was sung and played, covered a wide range of style and idiom, ranging over a 400-year time span. Such music effectively dispels the myth of one German critic who claimed that Britain was ‘a land without music.’
For the performers and audience alike, this concert offered a wonderful introduction to some of the lesser known ‘gems’ of the English Choral tradition. The programme also offered other ‘old favourites’ such as Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus and Parry’s ‘My soul there is a country’ – together with the moving Requiem that John Rutter wrote in 1985 in memory of his late father.  Another well-loved item was the song by Handel known as ‘Dido’s Lament.’ This was sung with great sensitivity and skill by the soprano soloist Lucy Elston.

Reflecting further on the performers taking part in this concert: I noted the alertness of the choir to the directions and attention to detail of their conductor, Laurence Panter, and it was clear how hard both Laurence and the choir had worked in making this a passionate, emotive, ethereal performance, full of power, energy, and commitment. The clarity and skill of each member of the Sinfonia was magnificent, with superb balance between the orchestra and choir. To hear Colin Millington playing the Temple Speech Room’s fine old organ was an unexpected joy, especially in Rutter’s ‘Out of the Deep’.  Behind the whole performance was the rehearsing and skilful conducting of Laurence.
‘Variety is the spice of life!’ Having focussed our minds on the season of Lent, and on our own mortality, the choir and orchestra will now begin preparing for their next concert on Saturday 6th July: ‘The Rugby Philharmonic Choir Goes To The Movies.’ As folk from Rugby and its surrounding villages, let’s put this date firmly in our diaries and look forward to enjoying this very different kind of music!
Whatever style of music is offered by the Rugby Philharmonic Choir and Sinfonia in the future, may it continue to bring joy to music lovers for many years to come. 
Peter Beresford.

Handel’s Messiah: December 2023

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!