News from Cantorum Choir

News from Cantorum Choir

Summer 2019

On the 30th and 31st August, Cantorum had the privilege of singing Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral. Music included Gibbons' Second Service, Lobo's Versa est in luctum, Wood in E flat No2 and Harris's Bring us, O Lord. We had a wonderful time, enjoying such a great acoustic to sing in and also socialising, with a choir dinner on the Friday evening.

Cantorum were delighted to be asked to bring this year's Cookham Festival to a close with the Gala concert. This is the culmination of two weeks of arts events in the village. We performed to a full church, under the direction of our associate director, Robert Jones and accompanied by a fabulous orchestra, led by Caroline Balding. The first half opened with Handel's Chandos Anthem 'O praise the Lord with one consent', followed by a wonderful performance of 'Summer' from Vivaldi's Four Seasons by the string players. We then performed Handel's Dixit Dominus in the second half. The evening felt like a real celebration of music and of the community of Cookham.

Spring 2019

We have a number of exciting events in our diary for the next year. On 30th and 31st of August, we will be singing Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral. This is something we have been wanting to do for a while, so are looking forward to leading the worship in such a great place and having time to socialise together too! Following the success of our St John Passion in 2018, we are also planning to perform at Eton College Chapel again next March. More details to follow, so keep an eye on our future dates page and social media! 

December 2018

In a change to our usual Christmas concert format, Cantorum took on the role of shepherds and village folk in a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors by Menotti. This tells the story of a crippled boy, Amahl and his encounter with the three kings on their way to Bethlehem. Holy Trinity Church was transformed into Amahl's lowly home for this performance and the audience were in for a treat with professional soloists and local children performing a dance as the villagers' offering to the kings. The second half of the concert included Finzi's Et in terra pax and other Christmas favourites.

March 2018

Cantorum were delighted to be performing JS Bach's St John Passion on Good Friday in the chapel at Eton College. We were very excited to be performing at such a prestigious and beautiful venue and were joined by a wonderful ensemble of baroque specialists and fabulous soloists. The chapel was full and it was a very special evening. We hope this is something we will be doing again in the future!

January 2018

Cantorum Choir is thrilled to announce the appointment of distinguished international conductor Oliver Gooch as Music Director. We knew it would be a very hard task to replace Elisabeth Croft, who has led the choir with such great success for the last seven years. Fortunately, the recruitment search attracted a most impressive array of candidates, whom it took two months of detailed and intensive work to interview and audition. Oliver was finally appointed just in time for the Christmas Concert—which he had already agreed to direct as guest conductor. So he has already effectively given his first concert with us in his new role. We are also delighted that Robert Jones has agreed to continue working with Cantorum as Associate Director. Robert conducted our October Concert with consummate skill and remains a very firm favourite with the choir.

October 2017

It is with great regret that we announce that Elisabeth Croft, our much loved and respected Music Director, is to step down owing to her new family commitments. Elisabeth has directed Cantorum since 2010 and achieved many wonderful things with the choir. She will be very greatly missed.

We are also very sorry to say farewell to Jozef Janik, our Assistant Music Director and regular accompanist. Jozef has also been with us for seven years and has brought great virtuosity and a wonderful sense of humour to all his interactions with Cantorum. We wish him every success in the future.

The process to appoint a new Music Director as from January 2018 is now under way.

In the interim, we are very pleased to welcome the distinguished conductor Oliver Gooch to rehearse and direct the choir for the Christmas Concert on December 16.

August 2017

Our music director, Elisabeth, gave birth to her second child (a daughter) just a few weeks ago. We send her and her family love, congratulations and every good wish.
We have great pleasure in welcoming Robert Jones to conduct our Autumn Concert in Marlow while Liz is on maternity leave. Robert is a very distinguished musician and a long-established friend of Cantorum.

June 2017

Cantorum is thrilled to announce that the young and already acclaimed composer Alexander Campkin is now working with us as Composer in Residence. We are currently commissioning our first new work from Alex, which we look forward very much to including in our Autumn Concert (Vaughan Williams G Minor Mass). The piece is Alex’s own musical reflection on the G Minor Mass and is entitled Waterfall. We were also delighted to sing his glorious choral motet ‘True Love’ at our Valentines event in February.

March 2017

Cantorum Choir is thrilled to announce that Alexander Campkin is now working with us as Composer in Residence. We are currently commissioning a new work from Alex—which we look forward very much to performing—and were delighted to sing his glorious choral motet True Love at our latest concert.

July 2016

Many congratulations to Jenny Knight who takes up her appointment as Cantorum Chairwoman from July 2016. And many thanks to Gordon Donkin who is standing down after three very successful years in the role of Chairman.

Some of Cantorum’s members were invited to take part as performers, chorus and readers in the first performance of a new musical play ‘Of Heroic Hearts’, given on Saturday 9th July at All Saints Church, High Wycombe to commemorate the sacrifice of service personnel one hundred years ago at Battle of the Somme.

In June, Cantorum competed once again in the (biennial) Choir of the Year regional auditions. The event was held this time in St Albans. The choir’s performance was described by the judge as ‘Absolutely sensational!’. Cantorum duly went through to the national round.

December 2015

Cantorum Choir is delighted to announce that for the year 2016 we have concluded a sponsorship deal with the management and recruitment consultancy firm Aspen Worldwide. The terms of the deal remain confidential but will enable Cantorum to take on yet more ambitious projects and also to raise more money for our chosen charities. Aspen are keen to support the arts and have asked Cantorum to invest some time in encouraging young local singers and promoting musical talent. The term of the sponsorship is for one year, but both parties hope this will become a long term partnership. "I am delighted," said Gordon Donkin, Chair of Cantorum. "It is simply wonderful news. This enables us to move the choir forward to greater things as well as to invest for our future."    

Other December News: In addition to preparing and performing their full scale Christmas Concert, Cantorum also sent smaller groups of singers to provide music at a corporate event, a retirement home and at Concertini, a scheme which allows young children and babies to listen to and interact with live music.

September 2015

Did you know you can support Cantorum Choir financially by registering with Give As You Live - an award winning fundraising platform for charities (see details on our Home Page)? Shop with your favourite stores, and a donation from the retailer will be made to Cantorum Choir without costing you a penny extra!

Another recent innovation: you can now buy your tickets online here for our upcoming concert.

May 2015

After the successful ‘A Night at the Opera’ concert, our next events are the Choir AGM and the summer BBQ.

An ‘in choir’ course for further developing musicianship and sight-reading is scheduled for September.

The purchase of a concert standard electronic piano is going ahead.

Warm congratulations: two members of our soprano section have just given birth to babies. We wish them and their families every happiness.

January 2015

We look back on a very successful 2014 and forward to new challenges in 2015. Two items of news outside our normal concert schedule should be mentioned here. In late November, some choir members were asked to record the choral elements of a musical newly written to commemorate the tragic losses at the Battle of the Somme. This was a very interesting and stimulating day in a studio in Marlow, thoroughly enjoyed by all who took part, and the proceeds went to choir funds… As did the rewards to four of our singers who headlined an evening in Sunningdale in early December, leading the singing of some favourite Christmas hits. Another lively excursion! Now we look forward to our Valentines Dinner Concert, a new joint venture with the John Lewis staff club—the Odney Club in Cookham. We hope you’ll consider joining us for a wonderful evening.

October 2014

Many congratulations and a very warm welcome back to Elisabeth Croft, our Music Director, following her maternity leave. Liz lost no time in rehearsing and putting on our large scale Autumn orchestral concert in Marlow, featuring Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Trumpet Concerto and Mozart’s Te Deum.

The Choir celebrated a very successful year by sponsoring a Go Kart in the Cookham Gravity Grand Prix on September 1st 2014. Several hundred locals cheered the Cantorum Kart as it sped down the hill. (Arthur Creswell organised the recording of Cantorum singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus to be played loudly in the background.) Members of the choir took picnics and hailed the day as a great success. Our driver, Stewart Newton, enjoyed the day but was not quite on the podium of winners at the end of the proceedings.

Preparations are now under way for our Christmas Concert ‘For unto us a Child is Born’. This concert will feature ‘Messiah’ highlights and other Christmas favourites. Rehearsals will begin in November.

June 2014

Sam EvansWhile Elisabeth Croft is on maternity leave, we are delighted to welcome Samuel Evans as guest conductor for our Current Concert. Sam is a professional singer, conductor and teacher. He is Music Director of Riverside Opera, a community opera company based in Kingston, and Thomas's Choral Society, Battersea. He performs regularly with the Monteverdi Choir and has sung with all the major professional UK choirs, including Polyphony, The Sixteen and the BBC Singers. Solo engagements have included Mozart Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, and Bach Christmas Oratorio at Sydney Opera House. Sam has given solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall and St. John's Smith Square, and performed principal operatic roles at the Opera Comique in Paris, the BBC Proms and the London Handel Festival. He teaches singing at Eton College and Westminster School.

May 2014

Great News! Cantorum were one of the Choirs of the Day at the Warwick Arts Centre in the Choir of the Year auditions. That means we go through to the National Selection Stage!

April 2014

April 4th-6th. A good number of Cantorum members spent a very demanding and thoroughly enjoyable weekend at Dartington Hall in Devon. Rehearsals in one of the Hall’s excellent studio spaces began on the Friday evening of our arrival and continued all through Saturday and Sunday morning. The sessions, led tirelessly by Music Director Liz Croft with Jozef Janik as accompanist, were full of inspiration and fun—we worked intensively on new repertoire, blend and choral technique. Needless to say, though, we also found plenty of time for eating, drinking and socialising as a group in this stunningly beautiful mediaeval location. On the Sunday afternoon, we were delighted to discover a very warm welcome in St Mary’s, Totnes, in a concert showcasing all our music: Viadana, Bruckner, Brahms and Fauré, some intricate settings of English Folk songs, some dazzling Scarlatti from Jozef and some arrangements of contemporary and pop music. A really worthwhile trip; everyone had a great time. We are now looking forward very much to our Choir of the Year entry day in May and then to our workshop with Ralph Allwood.

February 2014

Three exciting events are coming up this Spring in addition to our main concert:

  • Cantorum will be going on a short residential workshop to Dartington Hall in Devon, culminating in a performance in St Mary's Church, Totnes.
  • We shall be entering the Choir of the Year competition.
  • Our patron, Ralph Allwood, will be holding a special one day choral workshop with us.

September 2013:

Ralph Allwood (centre), with Jill Burton (Secretary) and Gordon Donkin (Chairman).We are thrilled to announce that Ralph Allwood MBE, whom The Times recently described as “the finest trainer of young choirs in the country today”, has agreed to become our Patron. Ralph is one of the leading figures in contemporary British choral life. After twenty-six years in charge of music at Eton, he has now embarked upon a freelance career and is currently running the Rodolphus Choir and guest conducting and advising to a number of other distinguished choirs, including the National Youth Choir of Wales. He recently co-founded the inspirational London inner city youth choir Inner Voices. He leads choral courses, masterclasses and workshops all over the world; he also broadcasts, records and composes and is consultant and judge at many significant festivals—and for BBC 2’s The Choir: Sing While You Work. His full biography is available here. We feel very privileged!

August 2013:

We welcome Gordon Donkin as the new chairman of Cantorum Choir. We wish him every success in taking the choir forward.

July 2013:

We gave a very special concert on Saturday 29th June – Cantorum Choir with the excellent Cantorum Orchestra and two young star soloists. We were celebrating Benjamin Britten's centenary with some of his most attractive and glorious music; as well as two wonderful pieces by John Rutter. The concert opened with the soft and ravishing harmonies of Britten's Hymn to St Cecilia. Then came the famous Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. Also in the programme were Britten's beautiful Flower Songs for choir and John Rutter's Suite for Strings and his Birthday Madrigals. Britten is without question one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. The Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings showcased the acclaimed young tenor Joshua Owen Mills, who had just come back from rehearsing this same piece in Rome with Antonio Pappano, understudying Ian Bostridge, no less. Jesse Durkan, our excellent horn soloist, is now resident horn player with the Ulster orchestra.


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Recruitment - tel. 07711 533054

Box Office - tel. 01628 525371