Meet the Artist: Festival Chorus

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by SMIF Young Reporter Rachael Batty
One of our series from Young Reporters for the Year of Young People 2018 #yoyp18

Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle Preview

It’s once again the time of year in Orkney when the sun seemingly never sets, heralding not only the beginning of summer, but the start of the St Magnus International Festival. Yet before these islands are filled with music, it’s nice to get an insight into some of the musical events lined up. Thus I spoke to the St Magnus Festival Chorus’ Director, Paul Rendall, to find out just what audiences can expect from his Chorus’ Sunday night performance.

This year the St Magnus Festival Chorus, accompanied by the acclaimed Sonoro Choir, will be performing Gioachino Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle in the St Magnus Cathedral. If this choral work doesn’t ring a bell for you, Paul Rendall explained that ‘Rossini was an operatic composer rather than a composer of oratorio. So the piece itself is quite operatic and dramatic in places’. Along with containing a theatrical vibrancy, the piece presents an interesting mix of solos and choruses as Rendall continued, ‘We’ve got some of the most beautiful sweet, light tunes that the soloists and the duets sing. They’re so gorgeous. But then there are these great big dramatic choruses that people can really get their teeth into.
It’s just going to fill the Cathedral full of sound’. The Sonoro Choir will take the stage for the solos, while the Festival Chorus will be projecting their voices throughout the larger choruses.

Surprisingly, however, the Festival Chorus has managed to get to grips with this work in just a few short months. ‘We started meeting at the end of February,’ Paul Rendall informed me. ‘We just listened to the piece first of all, because there are quite a lot of solos and duets that people here won’t be singing. So I thought it would be nice for them to just hear it, follow it with the scores for the first time. Get to know the pieces, get the feel for the piece’. ‘The first proper rehearsal started the first Monday in March and we’ve been doing it every
Monday night since then, except for Easter Monday’.

The Chorus seem as confident with this piece as if they had been singing it for nearer a year rather than four months. Paul Rendall who has only taken up the role of choral director this year certainly seems impressed with their progress, ‘The choir have worked tremendously hard. I’m very proud of them’.



All the music in Orkney's St Magnus Festival is touched by magic
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