Natural elements of the Atlantic to mark local choir group’s 90th anniversary

By Claire Dukes - 26 April 2019

Arts and CultureCommunity
  • Swindon Choral Society in rehearsal at Freshbrook Church

    Swindon Choral Society in rehearsal at Freshbrook Church

Going all-out in true orchestra style, a local choir group is piping up to mark its 90th anniversary with a concert at Swindon’s Steam Museum.

Swindon Choral Society in rehearsal at Freshbrook Church

A local choir group, based in West Swindon, is taking on the natural elements and performing a celebratory live concert to commend 90 years of singing in Swindon.

Before officially becoming the Swindon Choral Society, records of performances date back as early as 1929 when the group was originally conceived as a choir and orchestra – which would later become The Swindon Musical Society in 1948. After the orchestra departed from the choir in 1985 the Swindon Choral Society was formed under the musical directorship of Nicholas Riddle.

Kath Danswan, Special Projects Manager for Swindon Choral Society, joined the choir 33 years ago. She said: “I joined the choir in 1986 and have loved it ever since, so I am delighted that we are to be celebrating 90 years of singing in Swindon this year.

“Early records show that the choir first started out singing Operas by the Russian Composers. It has since gone from strength to strength singing all the great choral works, also works by modern composers, spirituals and folk songs and several compositions by Robin Nelson.”

Since the choir’s inception the group have performed a large span of the choral repertoire including Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, Carmina Burana, Handel's ‘Israel in Egypt’, Requiems of Brahms, Verdi and Duruflé. To mark their 90th year The Swindon Musical Society will be performing a live concert, Atlantic Odyssey, at Swindon’s Steam Museum, Saturday 25 May.

In May the choir will also be joined by 38 singers, and 7 non-singers, from The Choral Society of Middle Georgia, who will be travelling from America to join the concert. The last time the groups performed together was in 1993 to perform Benjamin Britten's 'War Requiem'. For the group’s 90th anniversary the choirs will be reuniting to sing the praises of the Arctic Tern migration.

Kath said: “We wanted to perform something really specially for our celebration concert. Robin Nelson had composed the Atlantic Odyssey, with words by Michael Polack, for our choir back in 2013 when it was first performed to a sell-out audience.

“He based the piece on the migration of the Arctic Tern - a bird weighing no more than a small apple but making the longest migration of any bird during its circumnavigation of the Atlantic Ocean.

“It celebrates both the bird itself and the Atlantic Ocean while also warning of the terrible damage done to the oceans through pollution, destruction of habitats and the melting of the Arctic Ice. It seemed appropriate that we chose it for this special performance.”

For further information about the concert and the Swindon Choral Society, visit http://swindonchoral.org.uk

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