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Sinfonia Chorale - Summer Newsletter 2023

Dear Friends

Summer greetings from Sinfonia Chorale!

Thanks so much to those of you who attended our Bach concert in March – we hope that you enjoyed it. We certainly had a lovely, uplifting time performing with the Baroque Orchestra, led by Nicolette Moonen!

Following the Easter holiday, we are back to rehearsing for the July concerts (Saturday 1st at 7:30pm and Sunday 2nd at 3.00pm), which promise to be an interesting and varied mixture of (mostly) a capella songs, from an eclectic selection of composers, such as Samuel Barber, Ernest Farrar, Percy Grainger and Irving Berlin.

We will also be presenting some of Jaakko Mäntyjärvi’s Shakespeare Songs. Born in Finland in 1963, Jaakko is a freelance translator and internationally renowned composer, mostly producing choral works. You will be able to hear more from him in our future concerts as well, when we will be taking the audience on a whistle-stop European tour!

We will also be joined by Josie Sleigh on Saturday evening. She is an excellent musician, the principal trumpet in the Nottingham Youth Orchestra, and will be continuing her studies at the Royal College of Music in September. It will be a wonderful opportunity to see this young soloist at the start of her career!

The concert on Saturday takes place at St Martin’s Church, Sherwood and the tickets are £10.00, with a glass of wine or juice included.

The Sunday concert is at 3.00pm in Oxton Village Hall. Josie will not be joining us for this event but the ticket price of £8.00 does include a delightful afternoon tea!

Please visit our website for more ticket information, or you can pay on the door.

Feel free to click/select the poster to download/print and distribute to your friends.

We look forward to seeing you!

Sinfonia Chorale


Find us online:  Facebook  .  YouTube  .  Website 

Created: 26-May-23 10:57

Sinfonia Chorale - Spring Newsletter 2023

Dear Friends

Warmest greetings from Sinfonia Chorale!

Some of you may have attended our recent Come and Sing/Play event, exploring Bach’s Magnificat and his Cantata 21, under the expert tutelage of Richard Roddis and Nicolette Moonen, with the talented Michael Overbury on the organ. The day received positive feedback and we definitely enjoyed it – even doing the washing-up (and the numerous other jobs) together was fun! Singing and playing the pieces is an exciting challenge – navigating the exhilarating runs and adding nuanced expression to the text can be very rewarding!

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was much-admired by other musicians and the public. He was a composer in nearly every genre (apart from opera), as well as a virtuoso organist, violinist, teacher and wonderful craftsman. Bach was born into a very musical family – his father was a court and town musician and he studied music with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who was an organist.  He also found time to father twenty children, from two marriages, but, sadly, only nine outlived him. He took up the prestigious post of Thomaskantor in Leipzig in 1723 and, also in this year, set the text of the Magnificat in a 12-movement composition in E-flat major. At some point he also inserted 4 hymns (Christmas interpolations) which we will include at our concert. In 1733 Bach altered the version, changing it to D major because of the trumpet tuning. This is now the standard, and one of his most popular vocal works. It is scored for 5 vocal parts, soloists and Baroque orchestra. The words of the Magnificat (praising God most highly) are from the Gospel of Luke, and are spoken by Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, during the time when they were both pregnant.

Bach’s music is often intense, exciting, complex and takes the listener (and performer) on a thrilling journey through a variety of emotions. He composed hundreds of cantatas over his career - as a working musician he had to produce new pieces regularly and quickly for his different employers.

The church cantata, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis  (I had great sorrow)  (BWV 21) was possibly composed during 1713 in Weimar, where Bach was a court musician for the Duke, and then performed in 1714. The text, which uses biblical quotations, was probably written by Salomon Franck, who was a librettist for many of Bach’s cantatas. It consists of two parts: one would have been performed before a sermon and one after, and it was considered to be ‘suitable for any occasion’.

A Baroque ensemble, soprano, tenor and bass soloists and an SATB choir perform this work, which weaves its way through themes of suffering and mourning, passing into movements of joyous praise. It was revised for different performances and Bach also used it in 1723, in his new role as Thomaskantor in Leipzig.

If you have the urge to listen to some inspiring music, it would be wonderful to see you at our concert on Saturday March 25th, 7.30pm, at Beeston Parish Church, Middle Street, Beeston, NG9 1GA. Tickets are £15 and £5 for students. They are available from our website or on the door.

Many thanks to you all for your continued support of the Choir - we are very appreciative and grateful!

Best wishes,

Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 08-Feb-23 18:21

Sinfonia Chorale - Autumn Newsletter 2022

Dear Friends

The sad news of the death of our Queen arrived just as this newsletter was going to be sent out. We would like to honour this gracious lady by performing pieces which we know were meaningful to her, and we will take this opportunity to commemorate her dignified reign, and life.

The concert will take place on Saturday November 5th, 7.30pm at Beeston Parish Church. Our music will reflect the celebratory nature of the Platinum Jubilee, as we perform works from the extensive reigns of the two Queen Elizabeths, linking the past with the present. There will be a wonderfully varied selection of music, including works by William Byrd, Judith Weir, Benjamin Britten and Gerald Finzi, amongst others.

Music played a large part in the life of Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603). She was an accomplished musician who played virginals, the lute and also sang. As a powerful ruler, she could act as a patron and many songs were written in praise of her – reflecting her connection to God, and also to the people.

Throughout her 70-year reign, Elizabeth II supported classical music and the arts. She actually studied music herself and enjoyed a wide variety of styles, as was reflected in her list of favourite songs! From this compilation (easy to find on the internet), we will be singing Irving Berlin’s Cheek to Cheek (1934/35), which Fred Astaire sang in the musical Top Hat. The Queen was also the patron of numerous musical charities, attended many events and honoured some wonderful musicians.

Born circa 1540 (d. 1623), the great English composer, William Byrd, began his professional career as organist and master of the choristers at Lincoln Cathedral. In 1570, he obtained the post of Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, which expanded his networking and composing possibilities. He shared the post of organist with the talented Thomas Tallis, with whom he also printed and marketed part-music and lined music paper. Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558 – 1603) had granted them a monopoly for this venture. Byrd was a prolific composer over many genres, creating partsongs, fantasias, dances, consort songs, 3 Latin Masses, 4 Anglican Services and over 180 motets. He was a Catholic in an Anglican state and he and his wife were known to be recusants but Byrd managed to stay in favour with the Queen, composing for her and avoiding major punishment (apart from heavy fines). He was also writing Masses for Catholics to use secretly and we will be singing one of these - his beautiful Mass for Four Voices (1592/93). The settings lacked title pages, dates and the name of the printer and it is thought that this made them harder to trace, therefore anyone involved could avoid potential arrest. They were also published in single bifolia so they were easier to conceal. Times change, of course, and now the pieces are commonly heard in Anglican cathedrals.

Jumping forwards, Judith Weir was born in 1954 into a Scottish family but grew up near London. In 2014 she was appointed to the 395-year old royal post of Master of the Queen’s Music and has written operas, theatrical works, instrumental, solo and choral pieces, as well as for national and royal occasions. Her delightful setting of I Love All Beauteous Things was commissioned by the Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the 90th birthday of HM The Queen. The words are by Robert Bridges (1844-1930), who was Poet Laureate in the year Elizabeth II was born (1926).

Benjamin Britten’s Jubilate Deo (1961) was written for St George’s Chapel, Windsor at the request of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Despite the fact that the Duke actually chose this as one of the pieces of music to be played at his funeral, this 4-part choir and organ piece is lively and uplifting.

We will also be singing O Taste and See, the quietly moving piece written by Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) for the 1953 Coronation service. A set of 10 partsongs A Garland for the Queen was also created for this occasion (performed the evening before) and this collection echoes The Triumphs of Oriana (1601), a volume of madrigals by different composers, written in praise of Elizabeth I and published by Thomas Morley

You will be pleased to hear that our talented accompanist, Michael Overbury, will also be playing Byrd’s Fantasia in C (BK25) and Walton’s Crown Imperial for the concert. We look forward to hearing his accomplished performance of these treats.

We are really looking forward to presenting some beautiful music from these eras, under the expert direction of our conductor, Richard Roddis, and it would be marvellous to see you all at our concert. Tickets are £15 (£7 for full-time students under 21) and include a glass of wine or fruit juice. They are available from our website  or from Sandra Wakefield on 0115 9606236.

Best wishes,

Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 15-Sep-22 17:40

Sinfonia Chorale Summer Newsletter 2022

Dear Friends,

Summer is fast approaching and with it our July concerts!

Saturday the 2nd of July, 7.30pm, at St Mary’s Church, Lowdham sees our Music for a Summer’s Evening programme, which will include a varied selection of songs and short choral pieces. Palestrina’s O Holy and Glorious TrinityKodaly’s Matra Pictures and Ernst Toch’s Geographical Fugue are amongst the delights on offer.

Our wonderful accompanist, Michael Overbury, will be with us for both concerts. We will also be joined by a special guest on Saturday evening – Magnus Hawker-French, who is an accomplished trombone player (accompanied by Rachel Johnson on piano). Magnus was Nottingham’s Young Brass Player of the year in 2019 and has performed at various venues across Nottingham.

Please come and join us for what should be, a lovely concert - we would love to see you there!! 

Tickets are £10 (£5 for students under 21) and are available from: 

On Sunday the 3rd of July we will be performing at the lovely St Peter’s ChurchTollerton, NG12 4FT, at 3.00pm

Magnus will not be joining us there but we will be singing a selection of pieces from those sung at Lowdham. 

Tickets, available from Norma Smith on 0115 9373814 or Ruth Hartley on 0115 9376968 will be £10, and include a delicious cream tea with prosecco or fruit juice. 

We hope that you are having a delightful Spring and we look forward to seeing you in July!

Best wishes to you all,

Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 30-May-22 12:41

Sinfonia Chorale Spring Newsletter 2022

Dear Friends,

Spring is coming, the sun is shining and we are eagerly preparing for our March concert! 

Perhaps some of you attended the Come and Sing day in January – according to feedback a good time was had by all, with people really appreciating the opportunity to sing again after such a long time. We are so glad that people felt safe and enjoyed themselves. 

We also hope that many of you will be able to join us on March 19th7.30pm at St Martin’s ChurchSherwood (tickets £15, including refreshments) for the Stabat Mater concert. 

Our talented accompanist, Michael Overbury, will also be treating us to some wonderful organ music, so please put the date in your diary and visit our website for more details!

The Stabat Mater is a sacred Catholic text, originating in the 13th century, which portrays the suffering of the Virgin Mother on witnessing the crucifixion of her son, Jesus Christ. The physical and emotional anguish lends itself to being expressed musically and there have been numerous settings of this text by many composers.

Born in 1710, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (family name Draghi) composed his Stabat Mater just before he died of tuberculosis in 1736. Despite a short life, he was an important early composer of opera buffa (comic opera) and worked for aristocratic patrons such as the Duke of Maddaloni. As well as operatic works, he wrote secular instrumental pieces and other sacred music. This beautiful, intensely moving Stabat Mater was composed for soprano, alto, string orchestra and basso continuo but we will be performing an arrangement for SATB chorus by Desmond Ratcliffe.

Antonio Caldara was born in Italy around 1670 and died in Vienna in 1736, where he had been Vize-Kapellmeister to the Imperial Court since 1716. As a boy, he was a chorister at St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice and had also studied cello, keyboard and the viol. Caldara was a prolific and popular composer, exhibiting great mastery over a wide variety of styles, including opera, chamber and sacred. His Stabat Mater (composed ca. 1725) is a dignified work, allowing for great emotional expression from the performers.

Our final choice of Stabat Mater is one composed around 1890 by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839 – 1901). He was born in Liechtenstein but resided in Germany for most of his life. During a successful career of over 45 years, he published nearly 200 compositions, as well as being a professor of counterpoint and organ. In his earlier years he had been a virtuoso pianist and organist, until a disease affected his right hand, putting an end to his performing. This is the shortest version of the Stabat Mater in our programme, divided into 4 sections and described as having a ‘popular-traditional quality, using some baroque rhythms and ending in a quiet fugue’ (

These pieces are a delight to sing and aptly demonstrate the very different possible interpretations of one text. We hope that you will enjoy this wonderful music too and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes to you all,

Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 14-Feb-22 17:01

Sinfonia Chorale Autumn Newsletter 2021

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Sinfonia Chorale during these uncertain times. We hope that you are all coping as well as possible with the difficulties that life has been throwing at us lately.

We have just resumed rehearsals after such a long time of trying to practise together via Zoom meetings, with backing tracks and Richard valiantly conducting! It’s lovely to be able to sing together again in the same room, albeit keeping more distance from each other, sanitising chairs and with some people wearing masks! After the enforced ‘hibernation’ it is wonderful to stretch the muscles, awaken one’s vocal folds, and get those endorphins flowing!

Providing we are still allowed to, we will be performing Brahms’ uplifting German Requiem and also his popular Liebeslieder Waltzes on Saturday November 20th7.30pm, at St John’s Church in Carrington. On piano we will be enjoying the marvellous combined talents of Michael Overbury and Philip Robinson. Not to be missed!

Composed in 1868, using text from Polydora by Georg Friedrich Daumer, the light and enjoyable Waltzes explore, over 18 relatively short movements, the myriad of emotions that being in love can stimulate. In contrast, our longer work (The German Requiem) uses words from the Luther Bible and is sacred but non-liturgical. Composed between 1865 and 1868, the piece might have been inspired by the death of his mother but, rather than being a Mass for the dead, this cleverly crafted work moves from darkness to light, giving hope to the living and comforting those who are grieving, which is a sentiment that definitely resonates with most people around the world today.

We would love to welcome you all back to enjoy a concert and hope that you feel comfortable enough to attend. The church is quite a large, airy space and, naturally, audience members can wear masks and sanitise, whilst we will continue to follow any precautions that the current government guidelines suggest. Tickets will be £15 and include a drink of wine or fruit juice. Please contact Teresa Marchewicz on 0115 9140525 with any enquiries, or visit our website 

Looking further ahead, we hope to present a Christmas concert in Rainworth Parish Church on Tuesday December 14th at 7.30pm. Please join us for some Christmas jollity! 

After New Year, on Saturday January 22nd2022 (starting at 10am), we are hoping to hold a Come and Sing event at Bramcote Parish Church. This will explore some beautiful settings of the Stabat Mater and, if you are interested, more details on how to book are available from our website.

Thank you so much for your support over the years – we are looking forward to seeing you again and sharing an uplifting musical experience!

Keep well,

Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 23-Oct-21 12:57

Spring Newsletter 2021

Dear Friends

The day you’ve all been waiting for (maybe!) has arrived at last… Sinfonia Chorale’s latest virtual choir performance is here! Our rendition of Victoria’s O Magnum Mysterium is now on YouTube 

This marks a year’s passing since we performed this piece in the Cathedral Church of St Barnabas, Nottingham, before the lockdowns started and Choir rehearsals were halted. Hopefully, we will all be able to meet up again soon and actually hold a concert!

We send our very best wishes to you all and hope that our performances might provide a little bit of springtime joy after this difficult year.

Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 08-May-21 13:07

Sinfonia Chorale Winter Newsletter 2020-21

Dear Friends,

We wish a ‘Happy New Year’ to you all, despite the current circumstances, and we sincerely hope that 2021 will be better for everyone. It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly a year (the St Barnabas concert, March 2020) since our Choir has been able to sing together properly… 

Unfortunately, it transpired that the marvellous, sociable, therapeutic act of singing was, possibly, one of the worst activities in which to engage, with regards to virus transmission. This was, and still is, a great shame for singers and audiences alike.

Adapting to the ‘new norm’ and exploring different avenues of keeping the Choir together has been interesting! The option of virtual choir singing has been very useful and generally positive, as it is the only way to sing together, albeit recording alone at home to start with! For those who had the equipment, time and inclination it has been quite fun and rewarding to view the end product with us all singing shoulder to shoulder (please visit us on the website and our YouTube channel)!

Looking to the future, we really hope that we will see you all again sometime in 2021. There is a tentative plan to hold a Come and Sing morning, looking at the beautiful Mozart Requiem on Saturday May 22nd 2021 at Bramcote Church. Naturally, this all depends on government guidelines at the time, but we will keep you posted and hope for the best!

Please visit our website for links to the Virtual Choir pieces (possibly more to follow!)

It would be lovely to hear from anyone who has stories about the Choir or, indeed, about anything they wish to share during these strange times. 

Anecdotes, jokes, positive messages are all welcomed - let’s keep connected and support each other!

Stay safe and well. 

Best wishes to you all.

Sinfonia Chorale x

Created: 08-May-21 13:03

Lockdown Newsletter Pt 2

Dear Friends


Thanks to all of you who responded so positively to the Choir's first foray into the world of Virtual Singing.

The encouragement you gave us has motivated us to move on-wards and upwards from our first virtual performance which was always meant as a bit of fun - to try and stimulate interest in this novel way of performing.

Our Musical Director, Richard Roddis, has been particularly inspired by the possibilities that this new medium offers, and has contributed greatly to our second virtual performance by creating a conducting video to keep us along the straight and narrow.

The work chosen was William Byrd's Ave verum Corpus, a beautiful motet with some challenging and highly expressive part-writing all held together by Richard's leadership, and assembled by the Choir's technical boffins!

The final result is now on YouTube, and can be accessed either directly via the Choir's YouTube channel, or via a link from the Choir's website.

Although we sincerely hope that you enjoy this latest offering from the The Virtual Sinfonia Chorale, we feel that we must look to the future and plan for the return to our more conventional way of  performing.


We therefore wish to bring to your attention (if you haven't already been made aware of this) the campaign that has steadily been gathering momentum throughout the country, and request that all supporters of Choral Singing take action as detailed below in the hope of a successful conclusion for all of us....

It has been suggested by many prominent musicians that we need to let the Government know that choirs in the UK need some advice and some answers. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has set up a task force to help re-open cultural life - but this task force does not include a single musician amongst its members! We need representation. We need to let the Culture Secretary know that choirs and choral singing are a vital part of life in the UK. Richard Morrison, in a recent Times article, pointed out that there are 70,000 choirs in the UK, nearly all of which are in suspended animation. Yet no one in Government is providing advice on where we can go next, despite there being a taskforce looking at how to reopen cultural life. We need to ask the Government to commission some authoritative scientific advice, and it is suggested that we each individually email the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, at this email address

A possible email is given here:

Dear Secretary of State, 

I draw your attention to an article in The Times of 8th June by Richard Morrison, headlined Will no one in Government stand up for British choirs? here He points out that there are 70,000 choirs in the UK, nearly all of which are in suspended animation. There are therefore well over a million people who would love to resume singing, an activity with well-known associated physical and mental health benefits, but who of course wish to restart only when it is safe to do so. What all choirs need is authoritative, independent, scientifically based advice on, inter alia: 1) What national and local conditions must be met to ensure safety? 2) What configuration(s) should choirs adopt in rehearsals, and also in performance? 3) Is there any type of PPE that is effective and practical for choral singers? Please will your Department commission this research, to be completed and published by the end of July 2020?

Yours sincerely, 

(your signature, and choir or organisation you belong to)

It is suggested that you copy the email to 

  • your MP
  • Radio 4 Front Row : ,
  • BBC Newsnight :


The Sinfonia Chorale

Created: 08-May-21 12:58
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