Summer evening music

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Eastbourne Choral Society is fortunate in working with not one, but two professional musicians - both with a wealth of experience and based locally.

Musical director John Hancorn has led ECS since 2003 and has directed the choir in a wide variety of pieces, from Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, to John Rutter’s Mass of the Children and a lively African piece, Zimbe! John has a long and distinguished career in opera, oratorio and consort singing, appearing in principal roles at Glyndebourne, English National Opera, The Royal Opera House and Welsh National Opera. He has performed as a soloist with the BBC Singers, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the English Consort. John is also a teacher and examiner, conducting choral pieces and opera scenes. He frequently directs choral workshops both locally and as far afield as Paris and Italy.

Nick Houghton, who accompanies the choir, is a full-time freelance player, accompanist and choral director. Nick is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and has his own 17th century style chamber organ and Bizzi harpsichord. He has frequently collaborated with John, most recently in leading a choral workshop in Lewes devoted to Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, which was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all the singers who took part.

Under the leadership of both of them, ECS is enjoying rehearsals for forthcoming concert Music For A Summer’s Evening, to be held at All Saints Church, Grange Road, on Saturday July 8 at 7.30pm.

As its title suggests, this concert will celebrate the spirit of summer, in works including John Rutter’s The Sprig of Thyme which brings together a collection of English, Scottish and Irish folk-songs, arranged in a cycle which effectively showcases the pieces’ differing styles. These encompass a broad range, from the gentle Scottish Afton Water, a setting of Robert Burns’ atmospheric poem of that name, to the lively English The Keel Row, a Northumbrian folk-song which, perhaps surprisingly, has military connections - it is used as a march.

Similarly, Elgar’s lyrical settings of well-loved poems as part-songs immediately evoke an image of the traditional rural idyll. Elgar brings a fresh dimension to the highly-descriptive verses to create harmonious sound-pictures, exemplified in his setting of Longfellow’s poem As Torrents In Summer.

A selection of songs from the shows will provide both complement and contrast while continuing the theme of the concert.

Tickets, price £12, are available from the Tourist Information Centre, www.wegottickets.com, or on the door. Further details can be found at www.eastbournechoralsociety.org.uk.