Singing From the Same Hymnsheet | Living North

Singing From the Same Hymnsheet

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Picture of choir in church singing from hymn sheets
Leeds-based touring choir Masterworks Chorale attracts members from all over Yorkshire. Ahead of its performance at St Mary’s Church, Thirsk on 9 September, we speak to several members

Can anyone join the choir or do you need to audition? How many people are in it?
Tim Knight, Founder and Musical Director: There are 35 people in the choir from all over Yorkshire. We don't audition, but we do have a three month trial period for every singer. At the end of this we, or the singer, can say no.

How long have you been part of the choir?
Tim: I founded the choir in 2009 and over half our members today have been with us since the beginning.

What are the sort of songs in your repertoires? Does what you sing depend on the venue?
Tim: We try to include a Choral Masterwork by a composer in every concert. For choral singers, that’s works like Faure's Requiem and Vivaldi's Gloria, but it can include traditional folk song arrangements. The music comes from America, Italy, France, Estonia and Latvia, Russia and – of course – England.

We hear you've toured all over the globe. Where have been the most memorable places and biggest highlights?
Tim: In the last few years we’ve been to Paris, Venice and New York. Perhaps the highlight so far was singing at the daily remembrance festival held at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Rebecca Brothers, who supports the choir with promotions and social media: My first trip abroad with Masterworks was to Venice last year, and the last concert there in one of the outer resorts, called Jesolo, was truly amazing. The church was a large imposing brick building, with great acoustics, the music sounded amazing and the audience’s reaction was so moving. It will stay in my memory for a long time.

What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
Alan Smith, a long-term member of Masterworks: Our next foreign tour to Vaduz because of the chance to sing in new settings and to new audiences.

Jacquie Battensby, another long-term member: For me, our next tour to Vaduz in Lichtenstein, and also singing Christmas carols at Fountains Abbey.

Where's the best place to perform in Yorkshire?
Alan: I have always loved the opportunity to sing carols in Kirkstall Abbey.

Jacquie: Tricky question! St Batholomew's in Armley is a pretty amazing building.

Rebecca: I think one of my favourites so far has been Fountains Abbey at Christmas, which was very atmospheric.

Have you performed at many weddings or events?
Alan: I have been singing since the age of nine as a choir boy, so can’t say how many weddings I have sung at. Masterworks has provided me with the chance to sing many concerts in many different locations and countries.

Jacquie: Yes, lots of weddings and concerts – although I think most of the weddings were with Masterworks’ liturgical sister choir The Heritage Singers.

What's the best thing about being part of the choir? What makes it special?

Alan: To quote a friend, fellowship is a big part of being in a choir. Additionally, it has taken me to many places and countries I would never have visited. There’s nothing better than the reaction from our conductor if we get the piece right.

Jacquie: There are so many best things – the wide variety of the beautiful music we get to perform in such stunning places, creating a beautiful sound, and the expression on our musical director's face when he is pleased with our performance – and of course the people.

Masterworks Chorale perform at St Mary’s Church, Thirsk on 9 September. More information can be found at www.heritagechorale.org.uk

Published in: August 2017

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