Eastbourne - new joint venture pools forces for Verdi’s Requiem

Rebecca Hughes (contributed pic)Rebecca Hughes (contributed pic)
Rebecca Hughes (contributed pic)
A new joint venture between Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra and Hailsham Choral Society along with singers from other choirs forming the ES Chorus comes to fruition with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem.

Orchestra spokesman John Thornley said: “One of the great icons of Western music with its soaring lyrical melodies, scintillating orchestration and dramatic emotional intensity, this great work promises to give audience, players and singers an evening to remember.”

Graham Jones, musical director since the ESO’s inception in 1980 and now conducting his sixth Verdi Requiem with the orchestra, added: “It is a monumental work and possibly Verdi’s greatest opera, and more than an opera, for it speaks for us all and to us all.”

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That first ESO performance of the work in Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre in 1987 involved 90 players and some 300 singers from eight local choirs. Graham recalls it was a glorious night.

“And that electrifying experience can still be felt today. It uses a vast orchestra including off-stage trumpets and four soloists in very expressive and demanding roles. Few choral works have captured the public imagination in the way that Verdi’s Requiem has. It is an immediate and highly personal work where violent emotions oscillate beneath the surface of this calm, yet full-blooded Italian composer.”

With some 60 players and 130 singers, the performance of Verdi’s Requiem takes place on Saturday, May 11 at 7.30pm in St Saviour’s Church, Eastbourne, BN21 4UT. Tickets (£18 in advance; £20 on the door) are available from www.wegottickets.com, from Crane and Co, 2 The Quintins, High Street, Hailsham BN27 1DP, and from Reid and Dean, 43-45 Cornfield Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4QG.

Graham added: “Theatrical in style, the first performance of the Requiem took place nearly 150 years ago on May 22 1874 with the second performance three days later at La Scala Opera House, which was received by the capacity crowd with great enthusiasm. Many successful European performances followed with the British premiere, and a chorus of over 1,000 and an orchestra of 140, taking place in May 1875 at the Albert Hall, conducted by Verdi himself.”

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Rehearsals for the ESO/HCS’s concert started in January with both choirs joining together in recent weeks, and the ESO players rehearsing from mid-April. They will all be joined for the final rehearsal on concert day by the four soloists.

Middlesbrough-born Helen Bailey, the soprano soloist, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music’s opera programme and Trinity Laban Conservatoire. In demand as a soloist with various choral societies, she is also busy on the operatic stage.

The mezzo soprano is Rebecca Hughes who studied vocal performance and opera at Birmingham Conservatoire and at Trinity College London. As well as her opera work, she has also been soloist in many of the great choral works.

Tenor Luke Price was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and studied singing at Trinity College of Music.

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His work has included many recital opportunities, and he has worked with many of the great opera companies. Since 2000, he has been a member of the chorus at the Royal Opera House.

The bass soloist for this performance is Jozik Kotz who, born in Oxford, read music at the University of York and was a lay clerk in York Minster followed by a post-graduate scholarship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.