Choral forces sought for Chichester charity sing

Choral conductor Jonathan Willcocks is hoping to muster forces some 200 strong in a special Sing for Sophie day coming up in Chichester.


The promise is an uplifting afternoon when the singers converge to rehearse choruses from Haydn’s The Creation and the final choral movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, followed by the chance to perform it all with the full orchestral forces of Southern Pro Musica.

In the evening concert, SPM leader Sophie Langdon will also perform Dvorák’s Romance with the orchestra.

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As Jonathan explains, all artists and SPM players are giving their services to support the work of St Wilfrid’s Hospice and in solidarity with SPM cellist Sophie McNestrie, of Felpham, who is bravely facing the challenges of cancer.

Singers will pay £10 each to take part and audience members £5 to attend, again in aid of St Wilfrid’s. In the evening, the soloists will be Margaret Ravalde (soprano), Victoria Larley (contralto), Christopher Larley (tenor) and David Riley (bass).

The Come and Sing event will be on Saturday, February 13, in St Paul’s Church, Chichester

Registration and music distribution will be at 2.30pm, with rehearsals beginning at 3pm, running through to a break at 4.30pm. When rehearsals resume at 5pm, the choir will be joined by the orchestra and soloists. An orchestral rehearsal then follows from 6.15-6.45pm, with the concert itself starting at 7.30pm.

Jonathan said no one would be turned away on the day, but just to get an idea of the numbers taking part and therefore how many scores would be needed, it would be appreciated if potential singers got in touch in advance via

“We just don’t want to be swamped on the day!”

As Jonathan says, the orchestra has long been part of musical life in Chichester, and this is a chance to give something back to the community while supporting Sophie.

“She is facing cancer and has been with the orchestra for more than 15 years. Sadly, she is not at all well at the moment and is being helped by St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

“We are all wanting to support the work that the hospice does.

“The format on the day is that we are trying to get as many singers as possible to come and sing with us. It’s a big challenge.

“Beethoven 9 is a really big serious choral work, but perhaps some people will have sung it before – though they don’t have to have done.

“The Chichester Singers presented the work three to four years ago. Really, we are looking to give an opportunity to singers in the area.

“Obviously if you can’t read music, it might be a struggle, but we have been approaching all the local choral societies.”

Jonathan is confident that something rather special will emerge at the end of the day.

“What we are hoping for is a performance that will be full of vitality and energy and enthusiasm. The Ode to Joy is the last movement, and it is all about optimism and a celebration.

“You will remember it as the rallying piece of music when the unification of Germany was happening, when the wall came down, and now it is really a European anthem.

“We are hoping to get about 200 singers, and we have made a good start. We just want to make sure that everyone knows about it.”

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