Chichester’s twice-yearly Singing Day tackles Gilbert & Sullivan for the first time ever for its Festival of Chichester outing.
Singers of all ages and abilities are invited to join the fun, rehearsing under the baton of Arthur Robson for an evening performance with soloists Catherine Hamilton (soprano) and Tom Robson (tenor), accompanied by Mark Wardell.
Music will be provided and lunch will be bookable. Singers should contact Arthur’s wife Polly, the event administrator, on email@example.com or phone 01243 823481 by June 25.
The event itself will be on Saturday, July 5 with the concert at 7.30pm, following on from the singers’ rehearsals from 10am-5pm. Audience tickets are available from the Cathedral box office. Tickets are audience £5; singers £20 including music hire.
“Gilbert & Sullivan is so popular, but not something we have ever done before,” Arthur said. “We had such a success last year when we did opera choruses, which was a bit of a change of direction for us. We usually do big classical pieces. But after last year’s success, G&S seemed a good next step.”
“Partly it is because I love it so much,” adds Polly. “And I know a lot of people around here also love it. I know it is very popular. There have been a lot of good G&S groups in the area, some of which have folded, so we thought it would be a good idea to give people a chance to sing it and to hear it.”
For Polly, G&S also has happy associations: “When Arthur and I were in the early part of our relationship, I sang with the Graffham Rustics. I was only in the chorus, but when they heard I was going out with someone who could sing, they were wanting to know if he would join us!”
Arthur says it will be very straightforward to select the pieces for the G&S programme: “I have an anthology I will be selecting from. There is a huge array from the different operas.”
For the day, Arthur says he will need around 50 singers, a number he is confident he will get. He is well on the way there – though he knows he will have to factor in the fact the gents will be well and truly outnumbered by the ladies. They always are.
“I think it probably all comes down to the fact the men didn’t sing much at school. I suppose singing in the past was bit of a non-u kind of thing to do, that some men might have thought it was a bit girly, and yet really singing together is such a wonderful, sociable thing to do.”
The event completed its third decade last year and now enters its fourth, still going strong.
“We do have a clientele basis of people on our mailing list that like to come along and take part and have a fun day, knowing they are only committing to singing on that day. It is not like becoming a part of a choir and committing to lots of rehearsals. They come for the day, they have fun and it works well.”
Polly adds: “We also manage to keep it going on a non-profit making basis. What we take is used to pay the soloists and the accompanist or whatever, and the whole thing works financially, which is great.
“We have not needed sponsorship. Sometimes we have not paid the people very well, but they still come anyway!”
The venue for the day is the Chapel of the Ascension, University of Chichester, College Lane, Chichester; www.festivalofchichester.co.uk