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Christmas Oratorio next for Tewkesbury Choral Society

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 09:00

The Tewkesbury Choral Society The Tewkesbury Choral Society

The Tewkesbury Choral Society is one of the oldest choirs in the county, with origins dating back to the nineteenth century.

Performing at Tewkesbury Abbey, the choir is also one of the most popular in Gloucestershire, and has over 100 members, as chairman Aj Peffers explains.

He said: “We have around 125 members across the age and ability range – we pride ourselves on being a friendly society which welcomes anyone and helps with reading and interpreting the music score if needed.

“With such appeal, our members come from all over the area – as far afield as Malvern, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Winchcombe.”

Aj has lived in the area for 25 years, initially spending two decades in Cheltenham before moving to Malvern.

He has been singing with the choir since 1994 and has been treasurer or chairman for many of those years.

Over the years the society has been known by many different names, including The Philharmonic Society and Tewkesbury Choral and Orchestral Society, before reverting back to the original title of Tewkesbury Choral Society in 2015.

“The choir is one of the oldest in the area,” continued Aj. “A ticket in the Gloucester Library archives is dated 1844 but there is reference in the newspaper to a concert in 1837.

“We perform twice a year in Tewkesbury Abbey, generally with an orchestra, under the baton of our Musical Director John Holloway who lives nearby.”

This month the choir will be performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at Tewkesbury Abbey.

The original oratorio was written to be performed over several days during the festive period, but Aj explains that the society’s version will be more condensed.

He said: “Our Musical Director has extracted a variety of arias, choruses and the chorales for which Bach is well known, to provide a concert of good length.

“His music is always deceptively complex and deeply satisfying once mastered; the choir has had a steep learning curve but are now on the home straight and beginning to enjoy rehearsals more.

“The experience of a good Musical Director counts here – John knows which elements of the music need to be firmly in place.”

The Choral Society will be performing alongside The Regency Sinfonia at the concert which takes place on Saturday 7th December.

“The Abbey is a wonderful building to perform in, both beautiful and inspiring,” added Aj.

It has become a better venue for the audience over the last 10 years with new lighting and refurbished heating. It’s about the right size for us as performers in terms of audience and choir seating, with room for a fair-sized orchestra in front of us and the excellent Milton organ behind us.”

For more information visit www.tewkesburychoral.org.uk

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