By Christina White
A Stroud choir with an eclectic mix of singers will be performing a concert of choral music at St Matthew’s church next month.
The Easter-themed programme on April 1 will include Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere and Gabriel Faure’s much-loved Requiem.
Standish Consort is a local success story; a group of amateur singers in the heart of rural Gloucestershire tackling increasingly complex pieces for the love of music. The chamber choir developed from a local Oxford University Society alumni group – OUS Gloucestershire. Chair – Sam Tolley – said the group had talked about singing for pleasure but the project took off when the group’s cofounder and music director Mark Wilson moved to Stroud in 2021.
Sam said: “We realised he was living 100 yards away and we immediately invited him round for dinner.”
Mark, who is Director of Music at Pembroke College Oxford, acknowledges the enthusiasm and absolute dedication of his singers: “This is an amateur choir singing to a semi-professional standard because they want to do it. They are pushing themselves to achieve results.”
As founder and director of Ensemble La Notte – a chamber ensemble, specialising in 17th and 18th century music – Mark was always keen for the Stroud singers to extend their repertoire an work with his “ELN”. But he insists that the choir is open to all-comers. They meet weekly for choir practice then head to the pub for a friendly catch-up and to share news. It’s developed into a real community activity with members ranging in age from mid-20s to retirement. One couple brings their baby to rehearsals.
How do you turn singers away who can’t sing? They admit through a ‘rigorous’ audition process but emphasise that the choir is ‘supportive, inclusive and non-judgemental’. Non-singers help in other ways – post-concert refreshments, advertising, and marketing. Their Christmas concert was a sell-out.
Many in the choir had not sung since school – let alone Oxford – and it’s given them a new-found confidence. A soloist for the Monteverdi Vespers (sung by Standish in December) describes the experience as that ‘sweet spot ‘ – an opportunity to get better and better. Don’t miss them!
Standish Consort’s first concert of the 2023 season is at St Matthew’s Church, Stroud. The programme includes the Miserere by Gregorio Allegri, Musikalische Exequien by Heinrich Schutz, O salutaris Hostia/O Saving Sacrifice, by William Byrd and the musical premiere of the same text set to music by composer Gemma Cartmell. The concert concludes with Gabriel Fauré‘s requiem
Tickets available through the choir, the Subscription Rooms in Stroud an at Ticket Source