Chichester Chorale at the Festival of Chichester

Arthur Robson
Arthur Robson

13-year-old Rafi Bellamy Plaice, winner of the BBC Radio 2 Chorister of the Year 2017, will be the soloist for O For The Wings Of A Dove at this year’s Festival of Chichester concert from the Chichester Chorale.

Choir director and founder Arthur Robson is promising a feast of popular choral gems, with strings and organ. The programme includes: Vivaldi – Gloria; Mendelssohn – Hear My Prayer; early English Song (with Arthur’s son Tom Robson, tenor, plus strings); and Franck – Panis Angelicus, a duet with Rafi and Tom.

“We haven’t done Vivaldi’s Gloria for about eight years, and it is a real crowd-puller. People just don’t get tired of it. It is very easy on the ear, and alongside that we have got a lovely programme of solo parts, solo arias and duets.

“The Vivaldi is very bouncy. People love it. I said to the Chorale when we were rehearsing that we wanted to establish that we were doing something slightly different and maybe do something different with some of the phrases. There is a lovely piece for the full choir that is like a dancy, jaunty waltz. I said to them ‘Let’s not take this bit too seriously. I think Vivaldi was having a little joke!’ I said ‘We must get the joy of the dance in there,’ and they looked at me and they smiled, but we tried it and it really worked.

“I think you have to try to do something different each time you go back to a piece. It’s like if you re-read a book after a number of years, you find bits that you had forgotten about or that you had not noticed before. It is like the great Beethoven symphonies. You always find something new.

“For this concert, I certainly wanted something to draw the crowds. We have got Rafi. His mother teaches at the university. She is one of our singing teachers there, and I said to her ‘Do you think Rafi would come and sing for us?’ It is great to have another soloist, and the regular fans will want to come and hear Tom again. He is doing a selection of ancient pieces with strings, instruments that are supposedly of the period.”

And so the Chorale continues to go from strength to strength: “They are nice people, and they come! They turn up and they work hard and they clearly enjoy what they are doing. The Chorale is like a family in its own right. We all look out for each other and look after each other. We have had, sadly, one or two that have dropped off their perches, which is one of the problems with a choir which has got older members, but fortunately there are always people that move to the area and get to hear about us and come along.

“We have had three new people in the last three months, which is good.

They hear about us or they get to know people that have connections with us, and the choir has its own momentum.

We are a friendly choir, and we have lots of fun together.”

Friday, July 6 at 7.30pm in Boxgrove Priory. 01243 816525 or 775888.

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