Chichester Singers offer Christmas Oratorio

Recruiting younger singers for 2023 will be one of the big priorities for the Chichester Singers as they move on from a highly successful return to normality in 2022.
Lou BruceLou Bruce
Lou Bruce

They will be performing J S Bach – Christmas Oratorio (parts 1, 2, 3 and 6) on January 14 at 7.30pm in Chichester Cathedral to start the New Year – a year when new chairman Lou Bruce is keen to secure an injection of young blood.

“I think we have got a number of opportunities to modernise. One of the things we want to do is to become a bit more digital in the way that we organise ourselves but our main strategy is to try and attract some more young members.

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"At the University of Chichester we've got the biggest music department in the country, I believe, and we've got four or five undergraduates or new graduates who come along. We rehearse in term time so it fits in very well with the university but we definitely want to recruit more young people. We have reduced our student membership to £10 rather than £140 so there really is no reason why not to join and for the under-30s, whether they are students or not, we give them a free term.

"For students we're also not asking for any charge to hire the score. We're trying to make it as easy as possible. Apart from the lovely fresh young voices that they would bring, I do think it would also make the choir much more diverse. We need the young blood. We've got to make sure that we keep the choir sustainable. We have a number of members that have been in the choir for a long time but we need to make sure that we have young people coming in so that the choir can continue.”

Lou became chairman back in November: “I adore the choir but I had not had a lot of experience in choral singing when I auditioned for them which was a bit scary actually. But I was so delighted to get in. I've been a member for about seven or eight years and I just love it. It brings joy every Wednesday in rehearsal and it is such a wonderful community spirit. And it is great for the grey matter as well because we're learning a different piece, at least one new work every term. It really does tax you. Or it certainly taxes me! But it's good to stretch yourself but there is also just such a lovely sense of togetherness, all singing together. And I love the challenge.

"(Musical director) Jonathan (Willcocks) is so good. When you start a rehearsal, for a lot of us it's the first time that we have sung that particular work but Jonathan times it so well that by the time we get to the concert we all feel accomplished with it. To be able to put on a really good performance for the audience just feels such a wonderful thing and it's very, very well documented that not just singing but being together really is good for our well-being.”

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Tickets for the concert on the Chichester Singers website J.S.Bach – Christmas Oratorio, (parts 1, 2, 3 and 6), January 14, 7.30pm, Chichester Cathedral J.S.Bach’s great celebration of the Festive Season – the Christmas Oratorio – was conceived as six cantatas to be sung on the major feast days of the Christmas festival, culminating at Epiphany in January.

The work was written on the grandest scale, with four soloists (led by a tenor Evangelist, who narrates the Christmas story), chorus and an orchestra employing all the instruments available to Bach as Cantor at St Thomas’s Church in Leipzig.