Friends of St. Peter's Consort are entitled to three Subscription Concerts each year at a preferential rate covering all three concerts. The Friends’ subscription for the 2017 season was £17 (with £14 for concessions). We hope you will agree this is excellent value for money! Please see full details in the letter below (dated April 2017) from our Musical Director, Sachin Gunga. If you wish to become a Friend of St. Peter's Consort, please contact Richard Gadsby, 22 Headlands Close, Liversedge, WF15 7QL, email@example.com
13 November 2017
During the last couple of years, St Peter’s Consort has been fortunate enough to perform with a variety of different accompaniments. Last year we sang Cloudburst supported by piano and percussion, and for Christmas we joined forces with the excellent Austonley Brass. Our last concert in Wakefield Cathedral featured a small but superb ensemble of strings, and we even used tuned wine glasses for our concert in May!
I am now delighted to say that for our Christmas programme this year we will be joined by local harpist Rhian Evans, for Benjamin Britten’s celebrated Ceremony of Carols. This is a true gem of seasonal choral repertoire, written for upper voices in 1942 and setting a collection of Medieval poems. Britten uses voices and harp expertly to convey a range of moods; from the jubilant “Wolcum Yole”, to the bellicose drama of “This little Babe”, to the chill of “In freezing winter night”. There are also a number of solos and duets, including the gentle “Balulalow” and the merry “Spring Carol”.
The Britten will be performed by sopranos and altos, and the tenors and basses have a few male voice carols of their own. These include an arrangement of “O holy night”, and a setting by Rutter of “Personent hodie”, which is taken from his cycle Dancing Day and also has harp accompaniment.
We have other carols from across the centuries for the full choir, two of which are by contemporary composers. “Noe noe” was written by David Bednall for Truro Cathedral Choir in 2010, and contrasts a loud and lively organ part with rhythmic and punchy choral sections. “The Heart-in-Waiting” by Bob Chilcott is an unaccompanied setting of a poem by Kevin Crossley-Holland, and words and music are at once mysterious and beautiful. There will be other more familiar favourites too!
As you may remember, I will be leaving Yorkshire in the new year, to take up a position at Portsmouth Cathedral. It has been a delight and a privilege for me to work with St Peter’s Consort these past two years. They are a fantastic team of singers, who readily lend their skills to many different styles, and always respond well to a challenge! They are also a very friendly and supportive group. We have accomplished a lot, and I have enjoyed it tremendously.
A reminder that our Christmas subscription concert will be at St John's Church in Wakefield on 18 December starting at 7.30 pm (£10, with £8 for concessions and, of course, "2017 Friends" free admittance). For those of you who have not been to St John's Church before it is, as highlighted on the church's website at www.wakefield-stjohns.org.uk, "a beautiful building. built in 1795, but extensively rebuilt at the end of the nineteenth century"; it has splendid acoustics and an intimate atmosphere ideally suited for our Christmas concerts. It is located on Wentworth Street going out of Wakefield on the A650 Bradford road, just past the Clayton Hospital; good parking facilities are available nearby.
I hope you are able to support us in this our final concert together.
24 August 2017
Having done as I promised and increased the number of contemporary choral pieces in the Consort’s repertoire, I decided that this September it was time for a return to something more traditional. Recalling the performance under Tom Moore of Dixit Dominus with strings, I have planned a programme of music by Handel, Monteverdi, Purcell and Mozart, also to be accompanied by The Cathedral Strings, at Wakefield Cathedral on 30 September. Besides the strings, there are two themes present in this programme: the music of coronations, and settings of the psalms.
Handel composed several anthems that set texts from psalms, including As pants the hart (words from Psalm 42), which he set for the first time in 1713, and subsequently revisited four times. Consort will sing his setting from 1722, written to be sung at the Chapel Royal. It is an extended anthem in five sections, with passages for soloists including a beautiful and yearning alto duet. The overall mood is one of longing, although the final chorus “Put thy trust in God” is more upbeat and positive.
By way of contrast, we will also perform two more celebratory anthems by Handel. He famously wrote four anthems for the coronation of George II in 1727, the same year he received official status as a British national. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Zadok the Priest, sung during the anointing of the new monarch, with its jubilant acclamations of “God save the king!” My heart is inditing, the last of the four, was originally performed at the crowning of Queen Caroline, and has perhaps a more refined and gentle mood, particularly in the central movements.
Henry Purcell composed two new anthems for the coronation of James II in 1685, one of which was also a setting of “My heart is inditing” (words from Psalm 45). We will be performing the other anthem: I was glad when they said unto me (words from Psalm 122), sung at the entrance of the king and queen. This is a small-scale but lively anthem, with lots of joyful dotted rhythms, and a contrasting subdued middle section for the words “O pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.
Monteverdi’s anthem Beatus vir is one of his more widely known choral pieces, taken from his collection Selva morale e spirituale (1640), with words from Psalm 112. The florid choral parts dance along over a walking bass, punctuated at intervals by a charming violin duet. Also well-known in the choral canon is Mozart’s Krönungsmesse or “Coronation Mass”, completed shortly after Mozart began working as court composer of Salzburg Cathedral in 1779. I am glad to have the opportunity to include two familiar choral gems with something closer to their original accompaniment forces.
At this point I must announce that 2017 will be my final year as Musical Director of St Peter’s Consort. I have recently been offered the position of Sub-Organist at Portsmouth Cathedral, and I am due to start working there in January 2018. This means that the Christmas concerts will be my last performances with the group. Whilst I am excited to be embarking on this new chapter, I will be sorry to end my time working with such a dedicated and skilled ensemble, and I have greatly enjoyed making music with them all. I am also hugely grateful for the continuing support of the Friends throughout my time as Musical Director.
It would be particularly pleasing for me to get a "full house" for September's concert and I hope you feel that the attractive programme will encourage you to come! Thanks as ever to those of you who continue to give us your support – this is vital for a small choir such as ours. The concert starts at 7.30pm with an admission fee of £10 or £8 for concessions. Refreshments will be available at the interval.
We look forward to seeing you on 30 September.
20 April 2017
The Consort choir members are currently enjoying rehearsals for our May concert at St John’s Church in Wakefield, with a particular focus on Herbert Howells’ challenging Requiem, and John Rutter’s Hymn to the Creator of Light. Both these works are unaccompanied, with constantly shifting and colourful harmonies, and in the case of the Howells some very heightened emotion (his life around the time of composition was affected by personal tragedy). Having learned the choral sections of Stars, by the Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, the choir are now about to multi-task by playing tuned wine glasses at the same time. This will create some more continuous shifting harmonies, but produced in a different way!
Other items in the programme will include Edward Elgar’s majestic Te Deum and Benedictus, and Jonathan Dove’s Seek him that maketh the seven stars. As I mentioned in the last letter, Dove himself writes that ‘the theme of light, and starlight in particular, is an endless source of inspiration for composers’. I have adopted “a light which never sets” as the title for this concert (words taken from the text of the Rutter). We will be joined by local soprano Alexis Cooling, a former chorister at Wakefield Cathedral, who will continue the theme with two solo pieces by Handel: Eternal source of light divine, and Let the bright seraphim. In addition, there will be some shorter secular pieces, including a few well-known madrigals.
The concert will take place on Saturday 20 May at St John’s Church in Wakefield, starting at 7.30pm with an admission fee of £10 or £8 for concessions. Refreshments will be available at the interval. Our second concert will take place on 30 September at Wakefield Cathedral with a baroque theme, and our regular Christmas concert will be on Monday 18 December, again at St John’s.
If you wish to take advantage of the generous discount available over the three subscription concerts as a Friend of St. Peter’s Consort for 2017, please send a cheque (payable to St. Peter’s Consort) for £17 (or £14 for concessions) to Richard Gadsby, 22 Headlands Close, Liversedge, WF15 7QL, who will then forward you this year’s Friend’s Membership Card.
We hope that the exciting and different programme on offer for our Spring concert will appeal to you. Please come along – and tell your friends! Thanks as ever to those of you who continue to give us your support – this is vital for a small choir such as ours. We look forward to seeing you on 20 May at St John’s Church (Wentworth Street, Wakefield, WF1 2QU).
28 February 2017
I have now completed my first year as Musical Director of St Peter’s Consort, and I feel very fortunate to have directed a number of challenging yet exciting works with the group since January 2016. Particular highlights for me have included: Vaughan Williams’ lovely Serenade to Music in May, with Nicholas Meredith on violin; Eric Whitacre’s Cloudburst in September, supported by some thrilling percussion; and three fantastic carols by Carl Rütti with the superb Austonley Brass. We have also enjoyed some more familiar music, such as Fauré’s Requiem, plus a few madrigals and close-harmony songs in the Garforth Festival. It is great to work with a team who can turn their skills to any of these varying styles.
To start 2017, the Consort sang the Sunday services in Wakefield Cathedral on 19 February, performing Mozart and Tallis at the eucharist, and later some evening canticles written for Hereford Cathedral Choir by John Sanders. With the anthem at evensong, Seek him that maketh the seven stars, we were revisiting the music of Jonathan Dove. He writes that ‘the theme of light, and starlight in particular, is an endless source of inspiration for composers’. The choir sings long awestruck phrases, while the organ sparkles like the night sky (skilfully played as ever by Tom Moore). The intensity then builds to a dance-like middle section, before coming to rest with the words “turneth the shadow of death into morning”. It is a work of contrasts, atmosphere and imagination.
For our forthcoming subscription concert I decided to explore this theme of light that has inspired composers such as Dove, and I plan to include Seek him in the programme. Alongside this will be another piece concerning stars, by the Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. Instead of a complex and twinkling organ part, he writes a series of sustained chords played by the singers on tuned wine glasses. This produces a remarkable glowing sound, which complements his gentle choral writing. This will be a different challenge from the body percussion in Cloudburst, but similar in the sense of multi-tasking for the Consort members! The concert will take place on Saturday 20 May at St John’s Church in Wakefield, starting at 7.30pm with an admission fee of £10 and £8 for concessions. Refreshments will be available at the interval of the concert.
A major work in the programme will be Herbert Howells’ Requiem for unaccompanied choir, in which he sets the text of “et lux perpetua” (light perpetual) twice, amid passages from the psalms and other scripture. This is one of my favourite choral works of the 20th century, and is full of Howells’ characteristically emotional harmonies. It will be paired with John Rutter’s Hymn to the Creator of Light, written in 1992 as a tribute to Howells, and bearing the fingerprints of both composers. Edward Elgar’s majestic canticles for the office of matins (Te Deum and Benedictus) will also be included.
One of my first experiences performing with the Consort was in a concert of Handel’s Dixit Dominus at Wakefield Cathedral. Looking ahead to our Autumn subscription concert on Saturday 30 September at the Cathedral (starting at 7.30pm), it is my hope once again to put together a programme with strings, for music of the Baroque period including Handel’s As pants the hart. More details of this will follow in the next letter. Our usual Christmas carol concert will again take place at St John's - this year it will be on Monday 18 December (also at 7.30pm).
It is with great sadness that we are now bidding farewell to Ernie Lowe, who has decided to retire from the Consort. Ernie is one of only three singers who have been with the group since its formation, and we are immensely grateful for all that he has given over the years, not just to the music but also helping with administration, maintaining the website and designing posters. We now wish him and his wife Kath all the best for the future. On a happier note, we will soon welcome back Kay Yates, who will be returning to the Consort in the summer.
We have decided to retain the 2017 Friends’ subscription at £17 (with £14 for concessions) – this will allow “free” admission to all three subscription concerts. If you wish to become a Friend of St. Peter’s Consort for 2017, please send a cheque (payable to St. Peter’s Consort) for the appropriate amount to Richard Gadsby, 22 Headlands Close, Liversedge, WF15 7QL, who will then forward you this year’s Friend’s Membership Card.
The Consort website gives further details of our activities throughout the year. Do log on to keep up with our progress! We hope that the exciting programme on offer for our Spring concert will appeal to you. Please come along - and tell your friends! Thanks as ever to those of you who continue to give us your support - this is vital for a small choir such as ours. We look forward to seeing you on 20 May at St John's Church (Wentworth Street, Wakefield, WF1 2QU).
2 Cathedral Close
WAKEFIELD WF1 2DP
7 November 2016
It gives us great pleasure to announce that St. Peter's Consort will join forces with Austonley Brass to present a fantastic event for the festive season in the city of Wakefield this year.
“The Spirit of Christmas” will showcase many different musical genres in a festive musical feast featuring Brass and Voices. Bringing together our two hugely talented ensembles will create a stirring majestic sound that is synonymous with the very best traditional Christmas music. This is the second time the St. Peter’s Consort and Austonley Brass have performed together in Wakefield following an excellent joint performance in September 2014 of the magnificent GLORIA by John Rutter in the stunning surroundings of Wakefield Cathedral.
The concert will take place on 14 December at St. John's Church, Wentworth Street, Wakefield, WF1 2QU starting at 7.30 pm. Refreshments will be available during the concert. The admission fee for the concert is £10 but, of course, for those of you who have 2016 Friends of St. Peter’s Consort cards admission on the night is free.
Further details about Austonley Brass - Yorkshire's premier brass ensemble can be found on our Events & News page. Garrath Beckwith, the group's Ensemble Manager, states that "the ensemble is really looking forward to bringing the 'The Spirit of Christmas' to Wakefield and we hope that fans of great music making and the local music scene will support the event and join us as we welcome the festive season with a bang!" From the Consort side, Sachin is "delighted to be sharing this concert with Austonley Brass for this unique event. As we have said before, please come along – and tell your friends! Thanks as ever to those of you who continue to give us your support – this is vital for a small choir such as ours." We look forward to seeing you at St. John's on 14 December.
Sachin Gunga Garrath Beckwith
Musical Director Ensemble Manager
St. Peter's Consort Austonley Brass
Tel: 07969 287172 Tel: 07734 364526
E-Mail: sygunga:googlemail.com E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
15 August 2016
Many thanks to those of you who attended our last concert on 21 May at St John’s Church in Wakefield. We hope you enjoyed our theme of “Serenade to British choral music” with its wide range of music from Byrd to MacMillan, both sacred and secular. One particular highlight for me personally was the “Serenade to Music”, and I am grateful to Nick Meredith for his fantastic performance on solo violin, which complemented Tom Moore’s superb organ accompaniment. This piece also showcased the solo talents of several Consort members, including our newest soprano, Alice Leebetter, whom we welcomed earlier this year.
The Consort were recently invited to perform in the Garforth Music Festival, putting on a programme at St Mary’s Church on 9 July. This was a short concert containing a range of unaccompanied works, from madrigals such as “All creatures now” to close-harmony arrangements of “Blue Moon” and “I got rhythm”. The singing was excellent, and we were very well received. Sadly, this was the last performance to feature Kay Yates, who has been a committed member of Consort for many years, and musically always reliable, but has now decided to step down. She goes with all our good wishes for the future.
Our next subscription concert will take place on 24 September at Wakefield Cathedral at 7.30 pm (with an admission fee of £10 and £8 for concessions). We will perform Fauré’s Requiem, alongside a song cycle by contemporary composer Jonathan Dove called “The Passing of the Year”. This is an exhilarating and creative work for double choir and piano, setting seven poems that move through the changing seasons, from the first buds of spring to the frosts of winter. Dove’s effective setting of words may be likened to Benjamin Britten, and the piano accompaniment is a real tour de force for the player. The programme will also feature shorter items, most notably “Cloudburst” by Eric Whitacre, in which the choir must recreate the sounds of a thunderstorm, assisted by the piano and some percussion. This piece is a finger-snapper, but not in the way you might think!
We hope that the exciting programme on offer for our Autumn concert will appeal to you. Please come along – and tell your friends! Thanks as ever to those of you who continue to give us your support – this is vital for a small choir such as ours. We look forward to seeing you at the Cathedral on 24 September.
18 April 2016
I’m pleased to say that we seem to have made a very good start to 2016. The Consort sang the services in Wakefield Cathedral on 14 February to an excellent standard, and I especially enjoyed the anthem at evensong: Brahms’ Warum ist das Licht gegeben, which they performed splendidly.
Our next subscription concert, on 21 May at St John’s Church, Wakefield, will be a celebration of music from the British choral tradition, both sacred and secular, and spanning about 500 years of history, right up to the 21st century.
To open the programme, the Consort will sing Henry Purcell’s majestic setting of the Te Deum. Written to be performed on St Cecilia’s Day (patron saint of music) in 1694, this work moves continuously between the imposing and the intimate, as the full choir is contrasted with sections for semi chorus. The alto solo “Vouchsafe, O Lord” is a particularly poignant moment.
The sacred choral tradition is further represented in works by Byrd and Harris. Civitas sancti tui is the second part of Byrd’s longer anthem Ne irascaris Domine, and exemplifies the composer’s skill in polyphonic writing. Harris’ anthem Faire is the Heaven is more chordal in texture, as the choir splits into two groups that sing alternately and together, with rich harmonies that make this piece an undoubted classic.
In keeping with my plan for more contemporary repertoire, James Macmillan’s Song of the Lamb was first performed in 2008. Setting words from Revelation, it is an exciting and innovative composition, with highly ornamented choral parts and colourful harmonies that show the influence of his teacher Kenneth Leighton. The organ part is also dazzling, and bears almost no relation to what the choir is doing!
The secular half of the programme includes part-songs by a trio of eminent choral composers: Stanford, Parry and Charles Wood. In addition, there are two wordless songs by Delius, full of jazzy harmonies and written almost like orchestral pieces, entitled To be sung of a summer night on the water.
We will conclude as we began, with a celebration of music itself. Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music (1938) sets words from Shakespeare, and was originally written for sixteen soloists and orchestra. Most of the accompaniment will be supplied by the organ, but we also welcome Nicholas Meredith on solo violin. This piece is both gentle and exuberant, and the perfect ending to an evening of British choral music.
Our second subscription concert will take place at Wakefield Cathedral on 24 September (7.30pm). Full details of the programme for this concert will be advised in our next letter which will be sent during the Summer. The Consort will sing its usual carol concert in aid of MacMillan Cancer Research at Dewsbury Baptist Church on 12 December (7.30pm). The subscription carol concert will again be at St. John's Church in Wakefield on 14 December (7.30pm) and we are delighted to be joined this year by Austonley Brass, whose members play regularly with the likes of the BBC Philharmonic, the Halle Orchestra and other well known ensembles. Many of you will remember our memorable concert together in September 2014 when we performed the exciting Gloria by John Rutter.
As advised in our last letter the Friends’ subscription for the season will be £17 (with £14 for concessions) – this will allow “free” admission to all three subscription concerts. If you wish to become a Friend of St. Peter’s Consort for 2016, please send a cheque (payable to St. Peter’s Consort) for the appropriate amount to Richard Gadsby, 22 Headlands Close, Liversedge, WF15 7QL, who will then forward you this year’s Friend’s Membership Card.
For a small choir such as ours, your support is vital. I particularly look forward to seeing you for the May concert, which will be my first as Musical Director of the group.
28th January 2016
It is my privilege to be writing this as the new Musical Director of St Peter’s Consort, having just taken over from Tom Moore at the start of this new year. I was delighted when Tom asked if I would consider taking up this role and, although I have big shoes to fill, I hope to be able to maintain the high musical standards set by him and John North. I thank Tom for this opportunity, and wish him well as he prepares for the arrival of Moore Junior!
I was appointed Assistant Director of Music at Wakefield Cathedral in February last year where, in addition to my duties playing the organ, I support Tom in the training of the choristers. I was previously Acting Assistant Director of Music at Lincoln Cathedral, with particular responsibility for directing the girl choristers. I have held organ scholarships at the cathedrals of Truro and Wells; before Lincoln I was Assistant Organist of Llandaff Cathedral where I set up a close-harmony group for men’s voices called the Low Rangers. I have always been a keen singer, and have worked with several cathedral and chamber choirs over the years, but it is a fresh challenge for me to direct one on a regular basis, and an opportunity I was eager to take.
I have been fortunate to accompany the Consort in several concerts already, so I am familiar with their excellent music-making, and at present my plan is to continue in much the same vein. I have very few plans for change, as the current operation seems to work very well, although I am hoping to introduce some more contemporary music into the Consort’s repertoire. One thing I definitely hope to achieve is to commission a piece especially for the group by a living composer. It is also my intention to arrange some collaborative performances with similar choirs in other places, such as the Lincoln Cathedral Consort.
Looking ahead to performances this year, the Consort will sing the services at Wakefield Cathedral on Sunday 14 February, which is the first Sunday of Lent, and the first subscription concert of 2016 will be on Saturday 21 May at St John’s Church in Wakefield, starting at 7.30pm. This concert will be a mix of sacred and secular music, and I have invited Tom Moore to be the accompanist; we are both keen that he should keep a connection with the group. We will let you know more details about this forthcoming concert in about two months time.
Our Autumn subscription concert for 2016 will take place at the Cathedral on Saturday 24 September (at 7.30pm) and we will again perform our usual Christmas carol concert at St. John's this year - on Wednesday 14 December (also at 7.30pm).
Over the past two years the Consort singers and our audiences have enjoyed three memorable concerts which have also involved guest performers - Cathedral Strings on two occasions and the Austonley Brass group for the exciting performance of John Rutter's Gloria. In order to provide the necessary funds for presenting future concerts with similar quality groups or individuals, we have decided to increase the admission price for each of this year's subscription concerts by £1 (to £10, with £8 concessions). The Friends’ subscription for the season will be £17 (with £14 for concessions). This will allow “free” admission to all three subscription concerts.
We hope you agree that the admission price for a Consort concert, particularly as a Friend, still offers great value for money. If you wish to become a Friend of St Peter’s Consort for 2016, please send a cheque (payable to St Peter’s Consort) for the appropriate amount to Richard Gadsby, 22 Headlands Close, Liversedge, WF15 7QL, who will then forward you this year’s Friend’s Membership Card.
My thanks to the members of Consort for their encouragement and co-operation as I start this new term, particularly for their guidance in all things administrative. We are also hugely grateful to you, the Friends, for your continuing financial support and attendance at concerts.
I look forward to seeing you at our future engagements.
11 November 2015
Another year has passed quickly by and it will soon be time for our latest Carol Concert, which will again take place in the marvellous setting of St John's Church in Wakefield on 9 December (starting at 7.30pm). The programme will consist of the usual mixture of seasonal music combined with readings and carols for audience participation. Refreshments will be available at the end of concert. The admission fee for the concert is £9 (or £7 for concessions) but, of course, for those of you who have 2015 Friends of St. Peter’s Consort cards admission on the night is free.
After seven years as Musical Director of St Peter’s Consort, I have decided to relinquish the position at the end of 2015. My decision to leave the post has been a hard one to come to, but as my wife is expecting our child in February, and I have been working most nights of the week in some musical capacity or another, I have decided that it is time to go in order that I can spend one more evening of the week at home.
There have been some very exciting performances in the last seven years which I will remember with a feeling of pride in what the Consort achieved. I am very grateful to the singers and other musicians we have engaged in this period for giving of their best at every performance. I am also very thankful of the friendships I have made with members of the Consort over the last seven years, and hope that these friendships will remain.
Finally, I am most grateful to you, the supporters of the Consort who come regularly to our concerts. To see we have a regular following delights us, and spurs us on to greater things. Please do continue to support the group under its new director, Sachin Gunga. Sachin is a fine musician who I am sure will take the group on to many more musical achievements. I wish everyone associated with St. Peter’s Consort all the very best for the future.
2015 has been another exciting year for the choir, culminating with our performance of Handel's Dixit Dominus together with Cathedral Strings and the soprano soloist Rhiannon Beck. Once again your feedback was very positive and much appreciated. The occasion and the musical experience was also greatly enjoyed by the choir.
I am delighted that Sachin will play the organ for the Carol Concert. I would particularly like to share my final concert with as many of you as possible - please come!
Thank you again for your support this year. On behalf of all the choir members may I wish you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year; Sachin and the choir look forward to seeing you again in 2016
Kind regards and best wishes