Arthur Robson can’t think of many better acoustics - anywhere.
He is delighted to be taking the Chichester Chorale to Boxgrove Priory for the Festival of Chichester as part of the Chorale’s tenth anniversary season.
Arthur, the Chorale’s founder and musical director, will be offering a night of Schubert and Sullivan.
“We are going to be doing a number of pieces but the main focus will be the Schubert Mass in C for full choir, strings, organ and soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists.
“It’s a bright, jolly piece suitable for the summer. Schubert is a wonderful composer for voices. Everybody knows his songs, but there is a huge anthology of choral works. The Mass in C is very bright and colourful. The most famous mass by Schubert is the Mass in G. The Mass in C is the lesser-known piece, but it is still absolutely gorgeous for its sound.
“And Boxgrove is just the right setting. It is very intimate. The acoustic is very clean. By clean, I mean that there is just enough resonance to give a good, warm effect. The sound bounces off the walls and comes back to you. You hear absolutely everything.
“Call it medieval brilliance or call it whatever you like, but whoever built it knew just exactly how to make sure that even with something like voices, that everyone could hear absolutely everything. It really is absolutely the best place to sing in the area. People use it for recording the sound is so fine.
“The Schubert is a piece I think I must have done before, though I don’t remember it. It must have been quite a long time ago, but my score is all marked up! It must have been about 30 years ago.
“Schubert’s lines are so lyrical. The only criticism is that the range for the voices is quite high. You have to have a fairly athletic choir in the soprano section. That’s perhaps why it is not done more often. That’s what makes it so challenging.”
But then again, challenge has become a key part of the fun for the Chorale. Arthur is delighted at the way it has progressed over its first decade to the extent that it can now tackle much more difficult repertoire.
As he looks to the future, as the Chorale enters its second decade, Arthur is predicting more of the same.
“I think people like to feel comfortable, to know that they are going to have wonderful music to sing. We try to make sure that our programme is varied throughout the three concerts we do a year: one at Christmas, one in the spring and one in the summer for the festival.
“I would not want to do any more. What is important is that the singers feel confident about the music. Most of them are not sight singers. We are also limited in the amount of time we can rehearse. For this one, we have got only eight rehearsals. We usually have ten, and so eight is quite short.” But Arthur is confident they will rise to challenge he has set them.
The evening will also include Elgar and three Sullivan songs including The Long Day Closes. Arthur’s son Tom will also offer a set of folk songs.
The concert is at Boxgrove Priory, Church Lane, Boxgrove on Wednesday, July 9, 7.30pm. Wine will be available in the interval. Car parking for the audience in the village hall car park opposite the Priory. Tickets £12; concessions: £10; children under-16 free.