The King’s Lynn Fes­ti­val Cho­rus is cel­e­brat­ing its 40th an­niver­sary year with a pro­gramme of some of the great­est mu­sic ever writ­ten

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

FOR 40 years the voices of the King’s Lynn Fes­ti­val Cho­rus have been helping some of the great cho­ral works of the world soar through chapels, cathe­drals and con­cert halls.

The choir was launched to sing at the 1977 King’s Lynn Fes­ti­val, and is still the res­i­dent fes­ti­val choir, as well as stag­ing sev­eral sep­a­rate con­certs ev­ery year. It is cel­e­brat­ing its 40th an­niver­sary with per­for­mances, ra­dio record­ings, an over­seas tour and a fes­tive stag­ing of Han­del’s Mes­siah.

From Broad­way clas­sics to Bach, and pop to re­quiems, the cho­rus has sung its way around Europe, with reg­u­lar over­seas tours. Mag­nif­i­cent venues which have been filled with the voices of this King’s Lynn choir in­clude St Mark’s Cathe­dral in Venice; the Basil­ica of St Fran­cis, in As­sisi, Italy; the Mosque Cathe­dral of Cor­doba, in Spain, and Rouen Cathe­dral. “Most poignant and mov­ing was at the Last Post cer­e­mony at the Menin Gate at Ypres,” says Grace Ng, a singer with the cho­rus.

Next year’s over­seas tour takes the cho­rus to the Nether­lands in June, helping to celebrate Lynn’s

Hanseatic League links. There have also been two CDs, in­clud­ing a Christ­mas com­pi­la­tion called Hark!

Con­certs are of­ten staged in St Ni­cholas Chapel, King’s Lynn. The largest chapel of ease in the coun­try is known for ex­cel­lent acous­tics and is ideal for the large-scale per­for­mances the 85-100 strong choir can de­liver. The lat­est cel­e­bra­tory con­cert, on Satur­day, De­cem­ber 17, will be in the chapel, with pro­fes­sional soloists and orches­tra.

Soloists for the Mes­siah in­clude in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed so­prano Dame Emma Kirkby, plus Peter Da­voren, Martha McLori­nan and David Ship­ley. The Merid­ian Orches­tra will ac­com­pany the choir. Grace says: “They per­form on au­then­tic pe­riod in­stru­ments which are tuned to Baroque pitch, slightly lower than mod­ern con­cert pitch. Ex­pect a per­for­mance of Mes­siah from the Fes­ti­val Cho­rus that is dra­matic, rhyth­mi­cally driven with vo­cal lines given the ‘or­ches­tral’ treat­ment.”

An­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions started early when the cho­rus was in­vited to be part of the huge Mahler con­cert, staged at the Nor­folk Show­ground this year to mark the 175th an­niver­sary of the Nor­wich Phil­har­monic So­ci­ety. And at the King’s Lynn Fes­ti­val in July the cho­rus pre­miered an ar­range­ment of four folk songs, which Vaughan Wil­liams first heard sung by fish­er­men in Lynn. The con­cert marked the 60th an­niver­sary of the great com­poser con­duct­ing an or­ches­tral con­cert at the fes­ti­val. A record­ing is likely to be fea­tured on BBC Ra­dio Three’s Meet My Choir pro­gramme.

Mu­si­cal direc­tor Tom Ap­ple­ton grew up in Nor­folk and leads a choir of up to 100 mem­bers who per­form pop clas­sics along­side cho­ral masterpiec­es and have worked with lo­cal school­child­ren as well as with pro­fes­sional soloists and or­ches­tras. The cho­rus has al­ways been an au­di­tioned choir, with singers re­assessed ev­ery two years.

Grace says: “I am a trained mu­si­cian but un­til re­cently had a non mu­si­cal work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, so be­ing in the choir has kept my mu­si­cal senses sharp over the years.

“We have med­i­cal con­sul­tants, auto engi­neers, teach­ers, nurses, re­tirees etc, all com­ing to­gether, work­ing hard with a com­mon goal, en­joy­ing each other’s com­pany and per­form­ing a sat­is­fy­ing con­cert. We are bound to­gether by the love of singing and for many the feel-good hor­mone kicks in af­ter each re­hearsal and we leave quite ex­hausted but on a high, and can’t wait for the next re­hearsal!”

“We are bound to­gether by the love of singing and for many the feel-good hor­mone kicks in af­ter each re­hearsal and we leave quite ex­hausted but on a high, and can’t wait for the next re­hearsal!”

The King’s Lynn Fes­ti­val Cho­rus has per­formed around Europe as well as bring­ing top qual­ity mu­sic alive here in Nor­folk

In good voice - the King’s Lynn Fes­ti­val Cho­rus

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