Having once again proved that they are capable of performing highly complex choral works, Chorus are already preparing for their next concert with the focus being Britten’s fine Rejoice in the Lamb. Neil Metcalfe reflects on his experiences with Chorus…
My love affair with Chorus began in 1984 as a Fresher. It was Christopher Bell’s first season as conductor of both Chorus and Symphony Orchestra. He’d chosen an incredibly difficult piece of repertoire – Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. We thought we’d never get it learned – most of us had never even heard music like it at that stage in our lives. I never imagined that, 28 years later, I’d be in front of the chorus as its conductor. But then, Chorus (and EUMS generally) is full of surprises…
Belshazzar led to Verdi’s Requiem and then, in the year I had the honour of being president, we put on a performance (possibly only the second ever Scottish performance) of Britten’s War Requiem. Scored for symphony and chamber orchestras, SATB chorus and a boys’ choir, this again was incredibly ambitious. We took the decision to hire the Usher Hall and filled it to capacity… This is what EUMS does best!
So, my first experiences of EUMS very much drive my present enthusiasm (and somewhat ‘paternal’ feelings) for all that we strive to achieve. I know my time in EUMS in those formative years of my career has played a major part in shaping my life (personally and professionally), and it’s an absolute honour and privilege to stand in front of the Chorus week by week and hear yet another major piece of choral repertoire rise from its sleeping bed and take shape in the mouths of those who now make up its numbers.
Reflecting on the past three years, I’m bowled over by a number of things; the sheer number of people who turn out to sing each week, the difficulty of some of the repertoire which we manage to conquer, the enthusiasm which is shown for all that we do, the sheer will and determination of the committee to put these amazing concerts on, and the healthy state of singing generally in the University.
All things come to an end, and when the time comes (although I hope that this isn’t for some time yet!), my biggest wish is that one of the future conductors of the Chorus is presently in our midst, being inspired to take up the baton (literally and metaphorically) later in life.
Chorus will return in EUMS’ Summer Concert.