A performance of Verdi’s Requiem is a special occasion, requiring large numbers of people - which is why the east Riding County Choir has invited the Beverley Chamber Choir to join them and their 50-piece orchestra when they perform this magnificent work on Saturday May 6th in Beverley Minster. Also joining the East Riding County Choir will be soloists Claire Rutter, Kathleen Wilkinson, Alexander James Edwards and Stephen Gadd.
The choir was formed in 1957, originally under the auspices of the East Riding County Education Committee originally conducted by Walter Hart, the County Music Advisor. The choir at that time numbered 35 members drawn from across the county at the personal invitation of Mr Hart. At that time, rehearsals were held fortnightly on Saturday afternoons at St Mary’s Boy’s School (which does not exist anymore) when the school meal staff would provide a cooked meal which was particularly welcomed by members who had travelled many miles to attend! The choir was particularly fond of unaccompanied part-singing and would give 2-3 performances a year in halls and churches across the East Riding, as well as supporting the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah in the Minster which was then performed by various Evening Institute choirs.
When Walter Hart left the area, Peter Fletcher took up the baton, then Douglas Marshall trained the choir after which Keith Dixon was appointed. Dr Alan Spedding directed the choir from 1969 until his death in 2014, during which time the choir increased in size to about 150 members and most of the major choral works were performed.
Colin Wright, who was accompanist and then Deputy to Dr Spedding, is the current Musical Director. Colin Wright has a well-established reputation as a performer and musician, playing organ and piano and is involved with many local musical societies. He is a fellow of St Catherine’s College Cambridge, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and a Fellow of the University of Hull where he taught until his retirement in 2010.
The East Riding County Choir first performed the Verdi Requiem in 1973 as part of the St John of Beverley Festival, when it had to advertise for singers! It has been performed 4 times since then by them. Today, all singers who love choral music are welcome to apply to join the choir - there is an audition. The choir meets in Beverley on Monday evenings during term time.
The concert this year will take place in Beverley Minster at 7.30pm on Saturday 6th May. Tickets are priced at £17.50 and £10.00 and are available from Beverley Tourist Information 01482 391672 or online from www.eastridingcountychoir.org
Photo courtesy Rev. Jeremy Fletcher and East Riding County Choir.