We sing for the joy of it!
Portsmouth Festival Choir is a friendly, well-established choir, who in our half-century of singing have covered pretty much all the standard choral works whilst tackling some more unfamiliar and challenging music, including a special commission – Shipping Forecast – by Cecilia McDowall in 2011. Our concerts have involved orchestras and instrumental ensembles of various kinds. We usually sing by ourselves but have worked with other choirs, including children’s ensembles, for example, in John Rutter’s Mass of the Children.
We perform three concerts a year, mainly at Portsmouth venues. In addition, the choir organises informal “Come and Sing” days. This allows us to try music outside the current concert repertoire, such as Elgar’s Music Makers or Bach’s Magnificat. These singing days have taken place in a wider area, including Chichester and Emsworth.
Every summer, the choir leads a singing weekend in either Oxford or Cambridge, enjoying the beauty and special acoustics of historic college chapels – these visits have been running for a number of years and are very popular, attracting a number of singers from outside the choir.
Ben Lathbury, our conductor, draws on his wide experience of secular and religious music to direct and enthuse the choir. In our Monday evening rehearsals at Portsmouth Academy, we are supported by accompanist Mark Dancer, well-known as an outstanding organist and choirmaster, who also plays regularly in our concerts.
The choir comprises the familiar four sections of soprano, alto, tenor and bass, and we welcome recruits in all voices. If you would like to join us, we usually ask new singers to take part in a few rehearsals to try us out; it is of course an advantage if you can read music but enthusiasm and being prepared to learn your part are the main requirements. You will find us friendly and welcoming and ready to give you any help you need. We really enjoy our music-making and sharing it with others.