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Cantamus Choir: Christmas in a Small Country Church
Cantamus was the inspiration of Margaret Hunter, a member of the congregation at St Margaret’s church in Thorpe Market. Together with her husband they were the driving force behind a strong musical programme that flourished in the church for a number of years. In 1998 a ‘scratch’ choir led by Ro Curtis began a tradition that has continued to this day, an open workshop event on Good Friday singing John Stainer’s well-known “Crucifixion”, concluding with a performance in the evening.
The following year Frederick Rawlins, a talented retired music teacher, became the new musical director. He inspired the choir to produce many delightful concerts. An annual event that came to be loved by all was the ‘Christmas Concert’; its setting quite iconic in the picturesque church at Thorpe Market, lit only by candlelight, holly-entwined wooden staves at the end of each pew, beautifully chosen carols and mulled wine to lend further warmth.
In 2006 Cantamus further established its reputation with a new Director of Music, Richard Baker whose devotion to great choral works led the choir to sing many beautiful and more challenging pieces, often beyond the usual range of choirs around the county. His six-year residency was replaced by a young and gifted music scholar, David Ballard, newly graduated from UEA, with distinguished qualifications, who took the choir to new experiences, increasing its repertoire over the last five years. Unfortunately, during these latter years Cantamus was no longer resident at Thorpe Market church and had been based in a number of other venues. In September 2016 the choir returned to its roots and was welcomed once more at Thorpe Market church, a venue well known for its support of the arts and with vastly improved facilities to stage performances and exhibitions.
Cantamus is now led by a new Director of Music, Philip Adams. An experienced former chorister and organist who held a number of significant directorships across the country. Whilst in Brighton he organised concerts for the Brighton Festival, and sang with the Brighton Chamber Choir. He also taught music for 25 years at Cumnor House School, in Sussex.
Philip will be presenting a Christmas Concert this year with an innovative programme, quite different from the usual year-in, year-out repertoire of concerts prior to Christmas. Cantamus will sing carols from early plainsong through the English and European mediaeval period, to the Early carols of 18th century America. All these carols being interspersed around a Pastoral, Christmas Mass setting based on ancient elements of Slovak folk music, and European baroque music, by the Moravian composer and monk Edmund Pascha. There will also be Christmas readings and congregational carols.
This will take place in the candle-lit church of St Margaret’s, Thorpe Market, and to complete that typical ‘country church at Christmas’ ambience and for everyone’s further enjoyment, there will be a glass of mulled wine during the interval. It would be hard to find a more iconic setting. Do come along and join us.
For further information about joining the choir or attending our concert please contact the Secretary on 01263 833847 or by email on email@example.com.
Performances and Repertoire
1998 Stainer: “Crucifixion” Vivaldi: “Gloria”
1999 Fauré: “Requiem” Carols for choir and audience – a Christmas Cracker
2000 Stainer: “Crucifixion” (Fred Rawlins became Musical Director) Mozart: “Requiem”
2001 J.S. Bach: “Christmas Oratorio” Music for Good Friday & Parts of “Messiah”; Haydn: “Creation”; Mozart: “Vespers”; Vivaldi: “Gloria” & Advent Carols; Charpentier: “Midnight Mass” Carols for choir and audience
2002 April 20th: Mendelssohn “Elijah” Workshop for Handel: “Messiah” Haydn: “The Nelson Mass”; Carols for choir and audience
2003 Fauré: “Requiem” Mozart: “Mass in C (K317) [The Coronation Mass]”
2004 (Adam Stanworth became Musical Director) Beethoven “Mass in C” Stainer: “Crucifixion” Schubert: Mass in G”; Carols for choir and audience
2005 Fauré: “Requiem”; Vivaldi: “Gloria”; Maunder: “Bethlehem”; Carols for choir and audience
2006 (Richard Baker became Musical Director) Stainer: “Crucifixion” Handel: “Messiah” (Part 1)Carols for choir and audience
2007 Stainer: “Crucifixion” Fauré: “Requiem”; Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine; Elgar: Ave Verum; Elgar: Te Deum (Opus 34, No. 1); Miscellaneous Anthems; Handel: “Messiah” (Part 1) Carols for choir and audience
2008 Cantamus Community Choir was awarded a grant from the National lottery “Awards for All” which enables the choir to purchase Folders and a quantity of music which is used regularly. Stainer: “Crucifixion”; Handel: “The King Shall Rejoice”; Allegri: “Misere mei, Deus; Cherubini : Requiem in C minor; Fauré: “Requiem”; Miscellaneous Anthems; Handel: “Messiah” (Part 1) Carols for choir and audience
2009 Stainer:“Crucifixion”; Haydn: “Creation” Vivaldi: “Gloria”; Miscellaneous Anthems; Handel: “Messiah” (Part 1) Carols for choir and audience
2010 Stainer: “Crucifixion”; Handel: “Samson”
With thanks to Mrs Barbara Ayre who has supplied much of this information.