No rest for Sterndale

Sterndale Singers
Sterndale Singers
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There will be no gentle easing in after the Christmas break for the Sterndale Singers.

The minute rehearsals resume in January, the singers will have to be totally focused on perfecting the music for their concert on Saturday January 27, at St Marie’s Cathedral.

The concert is a slightly belated celebration of the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi, in 1567.

Choir chair Angela Rees said: “We postponed our concert until January to avoid clashing with other concerts.

“There is so much music making in Sheffield, and St Marie’s Cathedral is the perfect setting, visually and acoustically, for the singers performance of music by Monteverdi and his Venetian contemporaries.

“Some will feature a brass ensemble, for example Schutz’s glorious setting of Psalm 150 ‘Alleluja! Lobet den Herren in seinem Heiligtum,’ while Monteverdi’s beautiful and reflective ‘Christe, adoramus te’ and ‘Adoramus te, Christe’ are unaccompanied.”

Anniversaries have been a recurring theme for the Sterndale Singers recently. In 2016 they gave a concert to mark the bi-centenary of the birth of their namesake, Sheffield-born composer William Sterndale Bennett, and last year the choir celebrated its own 40th anniversary with a memorable concert involving past members and other singing friends.

Founder member Gill Llewellyn said: “The highlight was Thomas Tallis’s motet ‘Spem in Alium,’ written for 40 separate voice parts. “The concert was a celebration of how we have developed. We started out singing unaccompanied madrigals, anthems and part-songs. We still sing this repertoire but as we have grown we have enjoyed the challenge of learning more ambitious music.”

The choir’s musical director, Robert Webb, feels that the size of the choir makes it particularly versatile.

“With around 35 voices the choir is small enough to perform small-scale pieces with beautiful blend and great sensitivity,” said Robert, who held a choral scholarship at Cambridge University, and has over 25 years experience of directing choirs.

“A recent performance of Elgar part-songs attracted high praise - yet big enough and with the right balance to perform double choir repertoire and some larger-scale accompanied works.

“We have given fine performances of Bach’s St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio, and particularly memorable were equally fine performances of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and the Sheffield premiere of James MacMillan’s ‘Seven Last Words.’

“The choir is committed to singing excellence. Prospective members are auditioned and are required to have a reasonable ability to sight-read. Singers do their homework between rehearsals and enjoy regular individual sessions with their vocal coach, David Watkin-Holmes, a professional tenor and experienced teacher, to develop and maintain good singing technique.”

The fun and camaraderie of being a Sterndale member is enhanced by regular social activities: post-rehearsal drinks, meals, theatre trips, parties and singing tours abroad

Visit www.sterndalesingers.org.uk for details.