About Us – Somerset Singers renamed as Somerset Choral Society

At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Somerset Singers held in November 2017, the Society approved the change of the Society Title to be “The Somerset Choral Society aka “Somerset Singers””.

The Somerset Choral Society is a choir of around 65 voices. We rehearse weekly from September to May in the Concert Hall of Sidcot School in Oakridge Lane, Winscombe, North Somerset, see map).

Concert Hall 3

We have two major performances each year, either at St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells, or St Mary’s Church, Wedmore, with concerts at Wells Cathedral every two or three years.St Cuthbert's Church Wells, Dec 2014

We are always pleased to welcome new members (there are no auditions) – see Contact/Rehearsals for details, or just email info@somersetsingers.co.uk.

The choir evolved from evening classes at the Kings of Wessex School in Cheddar, and gave its first performance under the direction of Peter Scott-Winfield in 1987. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, singing a wide repertoire of pieces and consistently attracting large audiences.

Our recent performances include Ralph Vaughn-Williams Sea Symphony in Wells Cathedral in May 2016, Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Paukenmesse in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells in December 2016, Rutter’s Magnificat & The Sprig of Thyme in St Cuthbert’s Church, Wells in May 2017 and Mendelssohn’s Elijah in St Mary’s Church, Wedmore in December 2017. You will find full details of our past performances and current programme elsewhere on this site. Important dates are also included in the Dates page. We look forward to seeing you, either to sing with us or in the audience!

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COME & SING MESSIAH WORKSHOP AT WEDMORE CHURCH ON SATURDAY 24TH MARCH

The walls of St Mary’s Church Wedmore were echoing last Saturday March 24th as the Somerset Choral Society held a “Come and Sing Messiah”.

More than 90 singers from North Somerset, Sedgemoor, Mendip and South Somerset gathered together for a workshop run by our Musical Director, Edward Goater, who rehearsed four choruses with the singers over two sessions in the morning and afternoon. The choruses were accompanied on the organ played by Matthew Redman. The fun culminated in a short concert during the afternoon. The day was interspersed with breaks for coffee, tea and home- made cakes! Ed shared vocal tips and his musical expertise with the singers who responded with a stirring performance of the Messiah choruses, culminating with a super rendition of the “Hallelujah” chorus.

The Somerset Choral Society is always happy to welcome new singers. There are no auditions although the ability to read music is helpful. Visit our website: http://www.somersetsingers.wordpress.org for further details.

Sing Messiah 2

Scene from the Workshop

Sing Messiah 4

For our next concert, to be performed in St Mary’s Church, Wedmore on June 16th at 7.30pm, we will be singing the ever popular Mozart Requiem and Handel’s Foundling Hospital Anthems (which include the famous Hallelujah chorus). If you would like to join us to sing in this concert, rehearsals take place every Wednesday evening from 7.30 – 9.30 pm at Sidcot School Winscombe. Rehearsal dates are : March 28th, then a break for Easter and resuming on April 18th up to the concert date.

REHEARSALS WEDNESDAY 28th MARCH AND BEYOND

From the next rehearsal on 28th March we will be practicing the pieces for the 16th June Concert starting with the Handel Foundling Hospital Anthems and the Mozart Requiem as soon as scores are available. If you have your own copy of the Mozart Requiem please bring it for your own use. The revised rehearsal programme is now published on the Rehearsals page of this website including which pieces each week. Members on e-mail have been sent this schedule as a WORD document and hard copies will be available on Wednesdays.

 

SOMERSET CHORAL SOCIETY TRIBUTE TO OUR HONORARY PRESIDENT RAIMUND HERINCX

Photo Raimund Herincx 1

With great sadness, we wish to commemorate our Honorary President Raimund Herincx who left this world on 10th February aged 90. Raimund became our President in 1997 at the invitation of Brendan Ashe who was our Musical Director at that time and Raimund has remained so until the present; he sang with us in two concerts. The first was Carmina Burana on 28th November 1998 in St Mary’s Church, Wedmore when he sang “The Dying Swan Song” “Olim lacus colueram” in his falsetto range. The second occasion was our Millennium Concert on 29th April 2000 in Wells Cathedral when he sang the Bass solos in “Verdi’s Requiem”. Anyone that heard his bass voice entry “Requiem Aeternam” in the “Lux Aeterna” that day will know what power he had!

The entry below is his Obituary in the Daily Telegraph:

Obituaries
Raimund Herincx
Operatic bass-baritone who excelled in Wagnerian roles and championed the works of Tippett.

RAIMUND HERINCX was one of the great Wagnerian opera singers of the 1960s and 1970s.

A tall, bearded, Falstaffian figure, he had a commanding presence and a voice of depth and authority that could seemingly carry the length of a football pitch with minimal effort. He was in particular demand playing characters of a menacing, sinister or ruthless bent, such as Baron Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca or the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele.

As Wotan in Wagner’s Die Walküre he could out-sing a bank of roaring tubas, joking that even if their number increased he would still be heard over them. His first appearance in the role was with English National Opera under Charles Mackerras in 1976, after which Opera magazine described him as “the discovery” of the Ring Cycle, adding that his voice was that of “a true heroic bass-baritone, deployed with unstinting generosity and deep feeling”.

Raimund Frederick Herincx was born in Kensington on August 23 1927, one of three sons of Florent, a Flemish military tailor, and his wife Marie. His paternal grandmother was of Romany stock and Herincx would claim that he declined to sing at Bayreuth, once the operatic citadel of the Nazis, “because of what Goebbels did to her”.

Young Raimund’s early years were spent in Flanders, but he was educated at St Mary Abbots School, London, and Thames Valley Grammar School, Twickenham, where his talent for singing was discovered. Ralph Vaughan Williams was impressed after hearing him perform in a music festival in London.

He joined the Life Guards in 1944, but was wounded in northern France. He remained in the Army, taking a degree in Chemistry at Birkbeck College, but the combination of ruinous mess bills and distaste for chemical warfare projects meant that demobilisation in 1948 could not come soon enough.

He studied singing in Belgium, making his debut there in The Marriage of Figaro in 1950, before taking private lessons in London. At Christmas 1955 he appeared in Beauty and the Beast at Richmond Theatre, though one critic observed that his “resonant baritone was somewhat above ordinary pantomime standards”.

Two years later he made his British opera debut in Mefistofele with Welsh National Opera. That year he joined Sadler’s Wells, appearing as a charming Count Almaviva in Figaro. His first Wagner role was Wolfram in Tannhäuser in December 1959, conducted by Colin Davis, and the following year he made the first of 34 appearances at the BBC Proms, taking part in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex conducted by Malcolm Sargent. Herincx was a great champion of Michael Tippett, making his first appearance at Covent Garden in 1968 as King Fisher in The Midsummer Marriage; two years later he created the role of Faber in Tippett’s new opera The Knot Garden, directed by Peter Hall. He was also involved in John Tavener’s dramatic cantata The Whale and in 1972 sang the White Abbot in Peter Maxwell Davies’s opera Taverner. During this time he was a regular soloist with choral societies around the country.

At the height of his career Herincx became caught up in John Ogdon’s descent into mental illness. The pianist, with whom he shared an agent, began to perceive him as a controlling figure, even suggesting that the singer was altering his scores in an attempt to derail his career. If Herincx was guilty of anything, it was of getting out of his depth in coming to the aid of a man in need of professional help.

In retirement Herincx, a connoisseur of fine wine, and his wife bought Wraxall vineyard near Shepton Mallet in Somerset, although the physical labour soon became too arduous. When the Glastonbury Arts Festival, not to be confused with the rock event, learnt of his proximity they persuaded him to take part in a 1996 staging of Rutland Boughton’s long-forgotten opera The Immortal Hour.

About 18 years ago Herincx settled in Bath, where he could be heard reading lessons in Christmas carol services. To his family’s amusement he campaigned in vain to have the tomb of Venanzio Rauzzini, the famous castrato and friend of Haydn who died in the city in 1810, moved from an obscure nook in Bath Abbey into a more central location. When the Three Tenors sang in Bath in August 2003 he was greeted as a long-lost friend by Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, the three of them spending a long evening reminiscing about operatic triumphs of the past.

For 30 years Herincx lectured and taught at the North East of Scotland Music School, part of Aberdeen University. In the week before his death he was listening to his acclaimed 1967 recording of Handel’s Messiah with Janet Baker conducted by Mackerras, one of the first to reconstruct the style of performance that the composer might have known.

In 1954 Raimund Herincx married Astra Blair, also an opera singer and later a musicians’ agent. She survives him with two daughters and a son.

Raimund Herincx, born August 23 1927, died February 10 2018

POST-CHRISTMAS CONCERT SOCIAL EVENING

Our Post-Elijah Concert Christmas Social Party was held at 7:30pm in Shipham Village Hall on Wednesday 13th December. There was a “Bring & Share” or “Jacob’s Join” Supper as they say in Lancashire, with food and drink in profusion plus a raffle with good pre-Christmas prizes.

Attendees let their hair down after the concert and got together for a good natter as you can see.