The Walton Voices open this year's Festival of Chichester

The Walton Voices head to West Sussex once again to team up with Arundel's Southdowns Concert Band.

Jonathan Kilhams
Jonathan Kilhams

Together, they offer the opening-night concert of the 2017 Festival of Chichester.Under the title Sun, Sea and Stars, the concert will be in Chichester Cathedral on Saturday, June 17, 7.30pm – in aid of the Sussex Snowdrop Trust. Band spokeswoman Brenda Bailey is delighted to continue the association with the Walton Voices – an association which has its roots in her time teaching at Chichester’s Prebendal school where Jonathan Kilhams, now Walton Voices’ choirmaster, was once a Chichester Cathedral chorister.“I used to teach at the Prebendal school until last year. I did clarinet and sax and bassoon – woodwind basically. I ran the concert band there because I had been in the forces, in the women’s army band. I had all the band experience, and when I was taking the band at the school, one of the pupils was Jonathan. He played the trumpet as well as being head chorister. We have always kept in touch, and then two years ago Jonathan had this idea of getting together with the band and the choir and putting on a concert in aid of charity in the cathedral. That’s how we got the link between the band and choir and the Snowdrop Trust last year, and it was so popular that the concert was full.“I think it is because it is such a good contrast. For the big choral items, you need the equivalent of an organ underneath you, and that’s what you get from the band. And then you have got a nice contrast with the band repertoire. You have got the big pieces and also the more gentle pieces.”As for the Southdowns Concert Band, the concert comes as they head towards their 30th anniversary next year: “I have been with it from the beginning. Our first rehearsal was in Shoreham and then we moved to Lancing College. We used to rehearse on Sunday mornings. However, we now rehearse at Arundel C of E School on Wednesday evenings.“It’s a concert band for better-quality players. It consists of about 40 people. Some are professional musicians; some are teachers; some just do it for a hobby and maybe were professional in the past. We are based in Arundel. We have people from Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Lancing, Southsea, quite a wide area so Arundel seems to be in the middle. We have developed a lot over the years. We are playing music to a higher standard. We are rehearsing weekly now which means you can achieve a lot more. We have had the present conductor Ross Hunt since just before Christmas. He is bandmaster for the Royal Marines. He took over from Tom Hodge who really motivated us by bringing us up to a very good standard.”For the Festival of Chichester concert, the compere for the evening is the star of stage and screen Honeysuckle Weeks. Brenda added: “The programme for the evening will include many well-known pieces from both the choral repertoire and the concert band repertoire. The joint opening item will be I Was Glad by Hubert Parry. The programme will also include Fingal’s Cave Overture, Finale from Handel’s Water Music and the concert march Stars and Stripes from the band. The choir items will include Northern Lights; The Water is Wide, as well as Bobby Shaftoe and Shenandoah. Both the band and the choir will perform the finale for the evening O Thou the Central Orb by Charles Wood.

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