Exciting new era for Billingshurst Choral Society

New music director Márcio da Silva is delighted with the first rehearsal he has held in his new position with Billingshurst Choral Society.

Marcio da Silva
Marcio da Silva

Together he and the singers are now counting down to their first concert together in November.

“The first rehearsal went really, really well,” Márcio said.

“This is the tenth choir I have conducted, but as I told them, I have not started conducting a new choir for the past nine years.

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    “I am originally from Brazil and I have lived in France and Germany and conducted choirs in both places. I have been in the UK for ten years (where he is artistic director and principal conductor of Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra and also Hastings Philharmonic Choir).

    “And I think with experience you start to try to understand people and to try to read the room, but obviously I think it can take a little while, but the chairman of Billingshurst Choral Society Keith Paul joined Hastings Philharmonic Choir eight years ago, which I conduct. He has been doing three hours in a car just to come to rehearsals, and he is the person who brought me over here, and I must say that I am really impressed with the way the choir reacted to the changes.

    “Usually with choirs they are used to doing things in a certain way, and it can be a bit traumatic when things change. I told them that it would take time for us to get to know each other, but I can see that their interest is very much in getting better and in doing better concerts.

    “I rehearse in the round which is unusual for them. I stand in the centre of a circle and they sing around me. It gives me the ability to get to hear their voices from close by. I am a singer myself, and I tend to give them a lot of technical support and tips. It makes it easier for me if they are all around me rather than up on a podium.”

    Of course, it all comes after a long lay-off: “I know it can be daunting for people not having done anything for a long time and being worried about sounding rusty, though obviously some of them may have continued to sing on their own. And also people could be worried about being with other people again, but I did not feel that at all. They were all just very excited to get back to singing. And I think you really can get back to it quickly even if you haven’t done it for a long time.

    “I was very, very happy and very, very excited by our rehearsal. They are a very good choir with good numbers. Before, when I auditioned, Keith told me that he thought they had a problem with the number of sopranos, but I didn’t see that at all, and the choir has got a lot of tenors, which is very unusual! I would say that the choir are experienced singers who are very eager to get better. I felt that there was good feedback in terms of the energy for what I was wanting.

    “At the end of the rehearsal, I said to them they shouldn’t go home and think ‘This is too much! I am too tired!’ I had worked them really hard. I said to them that they should go home and think this is how much they had learnt. And that’s how I approach it.”

    The rehearsals aren’t about having fun: “The aim is to get better and to hope that they are having fun while they are getting better.”

    Their next concert will be on Saturday, November 20 at 7.30pm at St Mary’s Church, Billingshurst when the programme will be: Raminsh – Missa Brevis; Faure – Cantique de Jean Racine; and Faure – Requiem.