Fraser’s aiming for perfect harmony

Fraser Wilson, musical director of Albion choir, who is organising a music event to celebrate the Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire
Fraser Wilson, musical director of Albion choir, who is organising a music event to celebrate the Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire
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The musical director of choral group Albion certainly doesn’t lack ambition in an event he has put together in Sheffield.

On Sunday evening, more than 70 singers from around the city who have never performed together before will sing music that is new to them in a way they have never tried before. There will be no sheet music to follow, either.

But Fraser Wilson is excited, rather than terrified, at the prospect and is sure that it will all work out beautifully.

The event, which takes place in the Millennium Gallery, is part of the 100 Days Yorkshire Festival, which celebrates the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire.

Members of choirs taking part come from different backgrounds and musical traditions.

They range from Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and Sheffield Oratorio Chorus to the University of Sheffield Chamber Choir, Hallam Choral Society and Tideswell Singers to community choirs like Vivacity.

Albion’s musical director Fraser has devised the programme that the 70 performers will sing, celebrating the traditional music of the British Isles.

He has written new settings to familiar songs like Scarborough Fair, Loch Lomond and Jerusalem and set poems to music.

They include Irish poet W B Yeats’ piece, He wishes for the cloths of heaven, with its famous final line, ‘Tread softly because you tread on my dreams’.

Fraser said: “We’re bringing people together in a way that’s not happened before.

“Usually the singers are on a stage at the front but in this case the whole room is going to be filled with singers all around.

“The audience will be surrounded by singing on all sides. It will be very unusual.”

It’s also very challenging for the singers because they will not be led by a conductor and will never have rehearsed together.

Fraser’s own choir, Albion, have become very well known in just two years and specialise in traditional music.

He put the event together by sending out an email appeal to choirs for groups of six singers to take part, comprising two sopranos, an alto, a tenor and two basses.

They have been learning the music in their own groups.

How will they cope? Fraser said: “You don’t need to watch a conductor to sing Away in a Manger beautifully, for instance. It’s a great leveller.

“Once the singers have realised they are able to monitor themselves and how they are singing and breathing, they get an awareness of other people.

“They can be responsive and analytical and and interpret what’s going on around them.”

Fraser’s hoping for some audience participation too. “They are songs that the audience can sing along with.

“People sing along with Jerusalem because it’s a ritual to sing along to it at the Last Night of the Proms.

“The music is bound up with our lives. Life is full of music bringing everyone together.”But will it

Free tickets are available from https://sheffieldchoralcelebration.eventbrite.co.uk/