Soloists announced – Israel in Egypt concert

We’re excited to announce the soloists for our next concert, Handel’s Israel in Egypt on 1 April 2017. Emma Walshe, Rachel Ambrose Evans, Jeanette Ager, Roland Wood, Nigel Cliffe will be accompanied by The Coro Baroque Consort.

Soprano Emma Walshe has performed all over the world with The Tallis Scholars , and has been a permanent member of the group since 2014. In June 2013, Emma Walshe sang the role of Daniel in George Frideric Handel’s Susanna with the Early Opera Company at the Spitalfields Music Summer Festival.

Soprano Rachel Ambrose Evans’s recent solo engagements have included George Frideric Handel’s Israel in Egypt (Holst Singers/Stephen Layton), J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion and St John Passion (Israel Camerata Orchestra Jerusalem/Avner Biron), Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, and Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria with the King’s College Choir Cambridge and St John’s College Choir in Cambridge. In 2017 Rachel travelled to Scandinavia for the first time to perform a staged version of G.F Handel’s Messiah at the Bergen Opera with Amici Voices.

Alto Jeanette Ager’s solo work has included: recitals and other appearances at the Wigmore Hall; Handel’s Messiah at St David’s Hall, Cardiff; Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at the Queen Elizabeth Hall; Tippett’s Child of our Time at the Royal Festival Hall; Verdi’s Requiem at Gloucester Cathedral; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Barbican Concert Hall and the Missa Solemnis at York Minster, Truro and Exeter Cathedral. In addition to performances at many of the leading venues in the United Kingdom, Jeanette’s concert work has taken her to Bermuda, the Czech Republic, Spain, Libya and China.

Baritone Roland Wood made his Royal Opera debut in 2015 as Roucher (Andrea Chénier) and has since sung Ford (Falstaff) for the Company. He regularly sings with English National Opera, where his roles have included Kissinger (Nixon in China), Marcello (La bohème), Alfio (Cavalleria rusticana), Zurga (The Pearl Fishers), Paolo Albiani (Simon Boccanegra), Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), Speaker and Papageno (The Magic Flute), Bunyan/Pilgrim (The Pilgrim’s Progress), Don Fernando (Fidelio) and Oedipus (Thebans).

Baritone Nigel Cliffe is a member of the Royal Opera Chorus, which he joined in 1999. He has sung many solo roles for The Royal Opera, in operas including Der Rosenkavalier, Rigoletto, L’anima del filosofo, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Sophie’s Choice, Pagliacci, Thaïs, La Gioconda, Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal, Cyrano de Bergerac, Macbeth and Die Zauberflöte.

Coro performs Handel’s dramatic oratorio, Israel in Egypt, on 1 April 2017 at St Leonard’s Shoreditch. Buy Tickets here.

Israel in Egypt_Poster v2-1

Strong Alto Voices Wanted

Coro is looking for strong Alto voices to join its performance of Handel’s Israel In Egypt, with professional orchestra and soloists, in London on April 1st 2017. Of all baroque oratorios Israel In Egypt gives the greatest prominence to the choir with sequences of great choruses, approximately fifteen of them for double choir. Weekly rehearsals on Mondays begin on 23rd January in Holborn and attendance is expected at nearly all of them. (We also have limited room for Tenors and Bass 2s, but currently not Sopranos.)

To find out more about auditions, please read our Join Us page.

London Sung Eucharist 30 Nov

Can’t wait until Christmas for your next Coro fix?

Pop along to St Andrew, Holborn on 30th November (19.00) where we’ll be singing Eucharist for the Feast of St Andrew (patronal festival).

It’s a short walk from Chancery Lane or City Thames link Station. 5 St Andrew Street, London EC4A 3AB

Coro raises £600 for Fynvola Foundation

Coro has just spent a beautiful autumnal weekend singing a charity concert in Doddington, Kent in aid of the Fynvola Foundation.

We are delighted to hear that the concert raised nearly £600 for the charity which provides specialist nursing and end of life care for people with learning disabilities.

The concert featured settings of Shakespeare’s songs by Matthew Harris, and other settings of the Bard’s work by a range of composers including Bob Chilcott, Robert Young, Thomas Morley, George Macfarren and Jakko Mantyjarvi. We were invited to perform the concert at Doddington Place as part of Musique Cordiale in Kent 2016.

The money raised will go towards the purchase of overhead hoists for nursing home bedrooms.

As well as raising money for a great cause we had a great weekend together thanks to the hospitality of Doddington Place. Have a look at these behind the scenes photos to find out more.

Save the date! Xmas Concert on 17 December 2016

Coro’s Christmas Concert, which has become such a fixture in the diary of hundreds of Londoners features something for everyone, will be on 17 December 2016. Many of your favourite Christmas standards rub shoulders with great Christmas motets of the renaissance, lighter arrangements and festive readings. And let’s not forget the audience carols! Tickets go on sale in early November.

Gabriel Jackson commission for Coro

Coro is pleased to announce an exciting new commission from award-winning composer Gabriel Jackson.

Last year, our dear friend Clare Latham died, and so the new work, In Memoriam, is dedicated to her memory. Clare and her husband Mark were founder members of Coro and sang with the choir for ten years before moving to York, where they both joined the Chapter House Choir. The two choirs have co-commissioned this new work which will receive its world première on Monday 21 April in St Luke’s, Chelsea. Tickets will go on sale soon.

Gabriel Jackson’s music is regularly performed, recorded and broadcast worldwide. He was composer-in-residence with the BBC Singers 2010-2013 and is a composer with a huge sympathy for and expertise in vocal music. We are excited that Gabriel is writing for us as his music has been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, among them The Sixteen and Tallis Scholars.

My Secret Life

Journalist David Benedict wrote about the experience of singing in Coro for the Independent on Sunday

Are you ready? Clear your throat, engage memory bank – area: superheroes, sub-section: TV theme tunes. OK? All together now:

“Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da,
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da,
BATMAAAAAAAAN.”

That’s better. I’ve been sharply reminded of the clandestine exploits of Bruce Wayne and his, excuse me, “ward” Dick Grayson but not for those reasons. While it’s true that I’m not actually a millionaire recluse who secretly dons figure-hugging lycra to become a closet caped-crusading crime-fighter, the time has come to break the silence: I lead a double life.

I’m not alone… but you never spot us. By day we pass innocently as men and women going about our business, infiltrating every conceivable profession in devilishly maintained guises as civil servants, management consultants, music producers, teachers, editors, publicists, solicitors, a barrister, a banker, a doctor, a restaurant manager, a movie special effects designer, a language tutor-cum-screenwriter, a recovering estate agent and a trainee vintner. On Mondays, however, under the cover of twilight, we undergo rigorous training in a top-secret location (the Swiss Church, Endell St, Covent Garden, since you ask). It may sound parochial but, like Thunderbirds, our reach is international. Hell, our most recent operation climaxed in Estonia. What did we do there? We sang.

No, not like canaries – I’m not talking ‘political informer’. Nor does my hitherto hidden life quite embody Burgess-and-MacLean-scale duplicity. My parallel existence hasn’t taken me to Russia (yet) but each week I am catapulted from mundane reality into a different world because unbeknownst to all but my closest comrades I sing second bass in a chamber choir.

Despite my upbringing as a nice-ish Jew-ish boy, I’ve always had a seriously soft spot for Christmas carols – early exposure as a boy treble in annual concerts in St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields left its mark. But three winters ago I found myself in Cardiff covering a competition for The Singer magazine. Having fessed up to my vocal past, one of the organisers told me about Coro, a London-based choir she co-ran. With the lure of lush Christmas music being sung beneath the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square in aid of Amnesty International, I was in like Flynn.

When I gave up acting over a decade ago, my singing went with it. I’d lent my once trusty, now rusty voice to the odd occasion when friends needed a little bass ballast and had once briefly flirted with another London choir – there are plenty once you start looking – but nothing had ever gelled into anything serious. But something happened that chilly Saturday afternoon beyond facing out the dilemma of “Do I wear gloves and lose the ability to turn the music pages or discard the gloves and entertain frostbite” I fell headlong back in love.

The absolutely physical joy of singing is simply incomparable. Even the undoubted, unashamed exhilaration of an actor’s curtain-call comes a poor second to the dizzying pleasure of being surrounded by the harmony of other unaccompanied voices clustered around you all equally dedicated to lifting printed dots into audible, thrilling life. But then singing is nothing less than, quite literally, breathing art.

Practising atheist that I am, it strikes me that for all the centuries of music written to be sung in church or at the very least in praise of God, combining one’s physical and mental energies into so beautiful an act has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with humanity at its most profoundly selfless. What could be more human than a bunch of people shedding their ordinary lives once a week to make music by just opening their throats… and then piling into the pub to pour beer down them? Which brings me to Estonia, which turns out to be the modish destination of the more intrepid of English stag nights thanks to the plentiful supply of pleasingly inexpensive alcohol, much of which Coro felt it only polite to sample.

So there we are in the shockingly unspoilt, medieval walled city of Tallinn bedizened with cobbled streets, pepperpot towers, pewter steeples and higgledy-piggledy, fairy-tale houses. It’s cold enough for the Baltic to have frozen over beneath a textbook-blue sky but we bask in surprisingly radiant April sunshine. That is, when not rehearsing for our first round appearance in the 8th International Choral Competition in a country that takes singing so seriously, the national concert hall is on the banknotes.

Unfortunately, we discover that the competition boasts 45 choirs from around the world. Ah. These include competitors from music academies, people who sing every day. Coro comprises 24 of us plus our new conductor Mark Griffiths and together we’ve done just 14 Mondays plus one concert. Which explains the amount of air-punching and leaping that accompanied Mark’s announcement, four days later, that along with just five others, we’re into the final… starting in 50 minutes.

We opened with Finzi’s tiny but mighty ode to joy My spirit sang all day and as the last exultant chord rang out across the hushed hall I realised I felt as if I were flying. Mark had brought us to the boil at exactly the right moment. Alert but relaxed, we were listening to each other and singing better than we ever had before. Even Giles Swayne’s fiendish, African-inspired Magnificat with 12 separate voice parts simultaneously running against each other suddenly sounded like music rather than a technical exercise.

It was, basically, a matchless blast. Nothing, however, prepared us for the judges’ announcement five hours later to the jam-packed hall that the winner of the Grand Prix was… Coro. A bolt of pure, red-hot joy lifted me clear out of my seat. No single moment of my adult life has touched that feeling. We yelled the place down, rushed on stage to receive our prize, belted out an encore of a ten-part arrangement of Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the audience went bananas. Two weeks later we were back in Covent Garden, rehearsing a new programme. With apologies to Bob Geldof, I do like Mondays.