Sweeter Music: Ten reasons why ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ is set to be a festive treat…

La Nova Singers in concert at St Ambrose Church. Photo by Alwyn Laddell.

La Nova Singers’ Candlelit Christmas Concert. Photo by Alwyn Ladell.

We’ve been making a list; checking it twice – and we’ve come up with at least ten reasons why our ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ concert at St Ambrose on 15 December 2018 is the musical stress relief you need this December.

1. ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ means ‘In sweet rejoicing’. The carol was written by a German mystic who allegedly heard real angels singing these words, and joined them in a heavenly dance. Our version, arranged by Howard Goodall, is just as joyous – but the dancing is entirely optional!

2. The warm glow of candlelight creates an atmosphere like no other. St Ambrose Church will be lit by hundreds of real candles: combined with beautiful acoustics, and delicate harmonies, you can expect some spine-tingling moments. Such as…

3. Rachel’s solo – Samuel Barber wrote ‘Slumber Song of the Madonna’ at age 14: it’s simple and yet jaw-droppingly gorgeous. A performance that deserves to be heard.

4. The Parry String Ensemble will be joining us once more, adding an extra layer of richness to our musical blend, and performing a Rossini Christmas medley. Delightful!

5. Sam Hanson, our accompanist for the evening, is a joy to work with and even more of a joy to hear. So much more than an accompanist, he enhances our singing with his expressive playing, on organ and piano.

6. ‘Mr Christmas’ himself – John Rutter’s ‘Dancing Day’ takes traditional carols and wraps them in layers of charming harmony. Apparently he’s the nation’s favourite living composer of carols – we can believe it!

7. ‘Tundra’, by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, may not strictly be a Christmas song; but its musical evocation of a snowy winter landscape is a perfect addition to our seasonal repertoire. Classic FM describes it as ‘exquisitely beautiful’… and it is.

Photo by Benjamin Behre on Unsplash

Photo by Benjamin Behre on Unsplash

8. Mulled wine – the quintessential smell of Christmas, this will warm you from the inside out.

9. The finest mince pies – our dream team at the refreshments table, Lisa and Sally, have done meticulous research into which retailers stock the highest-rated festive treats. They serve only the best.

10. ‘White Christmas’, made famous by Bing Crosby, is a perennial favourite at this time of year. Our rendition of this Irving Berlin classic is warm and inviting, like a musical mug of hot cocoa by the fireside. Festive bliss!

Candlelit Christmas 2017. Photo by Alwyn Ladell.

Convinced yet? You can book tickets now via our online box office: https://www.ticketgun.com/events/la-nova-singers-present-in-dulci-jubilo-candlelit-christmas-concert

‘In Dulci Jubilo – a Candlelit Christmas Concert’ takes place at St Ambrose Church, Westbourne, Bournemouth on Saturday 15 December 2018 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12.50 in advance; £14 on the door. Under 10’s go free when accompanied by a responsible ticket-holding adult.

 

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Law Nova Singers

lawsoc-longshot-rehearsalOn 9th December 2014, La Nova Singers were honoured to perform for The Law Society’s annual Christmas dinner, at their headquarters in Chancery Lane, London. Here are some photos from the rehearsal and performances…

lawsoc-closeup-rehearsal-2Here were are in rehearsal, while the waiting staff do what they do best… yes, that’s right, waiting… for us to finish, so they could get on with laying out the cutlery. (Sorry, guys).

lawsoc-carols-1

Performing carols ‘a capella’ while the guests arrive…

lawsoc-backstage-allofus

After a delicious meal (including apple crumble and custard for desert, yum) there’s just time for a quick outfit change before going on stage again. We were joined by Matthew Fairman, our accompanist; Steve Howard, occasional flautist and professional law practitioner; and Rebecca Notherwood, official page turner!

lawsoc-longshot-performanceProcessing in to the room, singing ‘Ricevete’ from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and bearing flowers…

lawsoc-performThe stage is surprisingly green!

lawsoc-rebecca-and-signThese are the kind of gigs we like. Great chandeliers, great food, great signage.

Our thanks go to Law Society president Andrew Caplen, and his wife Lindsay – one of our former members! – for inviting us to perform. It was a fantastic experience and we hope the audience enjoyed it as much as we did!

Harping On

La Nova Singers choir rehearsing at Highcliffe Castle, Christchurch

After we were named winners of Grassroots Giving funding, La Nova Singers were keen to start putting the money to good use. We were already planning our concert for December 2014 at Highcliffe Castle, and for the first time had decided to perform with a harpist. The fees for professional instrumentalists – such as the many wonderful pianists we have had to accompany us with over the years – are one of our biggest running costs; but we knew the addition of a harp would make this event something special. Winning £500 from Skipton meant we didn’t have to worry about covering our expenses if the concert didn’t sell out.

Our plan was to sing the Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten – this is a really intriguing cycle of Christmas music, written using old English, and with Britten’s characteristically interesting harmonies! The composer used to write a lot for children’s voices, and for choirs of boy trebles, who have roughly the same vocal range as our choir of adult women. Getting to grips with the complexity of the music was tricky (I imagine Britten must have known a lot of precociously talented children to have written something so difficult!) but our aim is always to achieve a professional standard, or as near as we can get.

We worked with harpist Katie Salomon, who is based in Wiltshire; and performed in Highcliffe Castle in Dorset – a fascinating building, more of a stately home than a castle, and cobbled together in the 19th century from imported bits of Medieval French masonry. It was once the home of Harry Selfridge, the famous founder of Selfridges department store. Highcliffe is a venue we love to perform at, since it’s local and gives the audience a wonderful setting in which to experience music. Holding concerts is a also a great way to raise funds towards the building’s ongoing restoration (we are particularly grateful for the under-floor heating in the Great Hall)!

Choir performing at Highcliffe Castle - La Nova Singers with harpist Katie Salomon

In the end, our concert sold out well in advance – a result we were thrilled with. We enjoyed performing to a full audience, and watching as Katie’s beautiful harp solo left them spellbound. It really did help to create a truly magical festive atmosphere. We’re looking forward now to working with other instrumentalists in the future, particularly for our next concert in March, where we’ll be singing two of the ‘big hitters’ of the choral repertoire – Vivaldi’s Gloria and Fauré’s Requiem…

Note: This post originally appeared on ProjectDirt.com – view here.

Stourhead Festival of the Voice 2013

Outside the Pantheon, Stourhead

The Pantheon at Stourhead is a fantastically beautiful place to perform, and the view across the lake is gorgeous – whatever the weather. This year’s Festival of the Voice unluckily coincided with storm warnings and threats of a deluge – but some amazingly optimistic souls were there to hear us, with the reward of a window in the weather as well as our singing!outside-pantheon

The circular, marble-lined temple interior was, however, a temptation – particularly to test out the acoustics, which were lovely (although it was a challenge to our bel canto technique to keep the volume low enough for a smallish, stone-lined space).

inside-pantheon

It was a bit like singing inside a piece of Wedgwood pottery…!

A curious rebound made it sound disconcertingly, to those of us second sopranos and altos, as if the first sopranos had swapped sides. Nevertheless it was very rewarding to sing the Saint Saens ‘Ave Maria’ in such a lovely setting.

– Today’s blog post is brought to you by our Treasurer and Second Soprano, Virginia.

Even brighter than the moon moon moon – The Mega Choir!

The Mega Choir

The Mega Choir! Photo accredited to Samantha Toy 2013

Something big hit the local singing scene this May – something big, bright and very uplifting!

The Mega Choir was a huge collaborative choral event, orchestrated by the From Knowhere team in aid of mental health charity Mind. The premise was that you often cannot tell, when you first meet someone, whether they are a singer.*

Likewise, you cannot tell from looking at a person whether they have a mental health issue. The positive effect that choral singing can have on a person’s thinking and emotional state has been seen time and again; so what better way to raise awareness and funds for Mind, than to put together a massive choir?! Here’s the view from the stage:

Mega Choir - view from the stage

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Don’t answer that; it was a rhetorical question.

And thus it was that five fantastic forces of vocal virtuosity (that’s choirs, to the layperson) came together at Bournemouth’s O2 Academy to perform for a large and very appreciative audience. La Nova Singers performed alongside the Funky Little Choir; World Music Choir; Happy Heart Singers and the Chicken Soup Choir. The venue was rather impressive, and used to be called The Opera House: La Nova Singers approve.

The Chicken Soup Choir rehearse at the Mega Choir event.

The Chicken Soup Choir in rehearsal

The event was conducted by the very charismatic Mark De Lisser. Mr De Lisser has previously starred in BBC talent show ‘Last Choir Standing’ with his contemporary music choir, the ACM Gospel Choir and is a vocal coach on ‘The Voice’. But this time he had met his match…

 Mega Choir - Mark De Lisser has his photo taken with Debbie 'Superstar' Lloyd

Mark De Lisser has his photo taken with Debbie ‘Superstar’ Lloyd

It was a long day – all the singers arrived at the venue for 11.30 am, and we were there until about 10.30 when the concert finished. The From Knowhere team very kindly provided teas, coffee and a self-serve sandwich production line. There was also an additional brilliant way to raise funds for Mind, and that was through the power of cake. It was worth participating in this event just for the deliciously chocolatey Rocky Road, available in exchange for a modest charitable donation. My bit had about half a packet of Maltesers in it.

La Nova Singers backstage at The Mega Choir event in Bournemouth

Here are La Nova Singers backstage, waiting to go on as part of the Mega Choir: for the first, and quite possibly last, time you will hear dramatic soprano Michelle Nova perform songs by Cheryl Cole and Katy Perry in public!!

Mega Choir performs, whilst Mark De Lisser rocks the silver jacket. Photo accredited to Samantha Toy 2013

Mega Choir performs, whilst Mark De Lisser rocks the silver jacket. Photo accredited to Samantha Toy 2013

As well as ‘Promise This’ and ‘Firework’, the massed choir performed the classic ‘Stand By Me’ in Mark De Lisser’s distinctive arrangement; and the show closed with a feel-good sing-a-long to ‘Higher and Higher’. La Nova Singers also opened the second half with a performance of our more usual repertoire, which went down really well with the audience.

La Nova Singers perform at The Mega Choir event

La Nova Singers perform – no VPL here! Photo by Mark De Lisser.

All things considered, this was a really fantastic event and we were proud to be a part of it.

* unless it’s Michelle Nova, who radiates soprano-ness. People have been known to back away from her in supermarket checkout queues, fearing that a dramatic aria is imminent.

Spring comes to Ringwood… well, almost.

La Nova Singers in rehearsal

So. Last year we learned that if you make preparations to put on an event entitled ‘Summer Garden Concert‘, you will inevitably end up with the wettest summer in 100 years.

And this year, just to drive the message home, we had two concerts sub-titled ‘A choral celebration of spring’. If you’ve been outside in the last few weeks – or considered going outside, looked out of the window and then thought better of it – you will have noticed that conditions in the UK have not been exactly spring-like.

But that has never held back La Nova Singers from our mission of performing uplifting choral music, and so it was that we returned to Ringwood Meeting House on 20th April for a concert that seemed to be enjoyed by all present.

Classical choral concert in Hampshire

The Meeting House is an unusual venue, but a lovely performance space.

 

Pianist Celia Cologne in rehearsal for La Nova Singers concert, Ringwood; with Steven Howard on fluteCelia Cologne is no stranger to Ringwood audiences, having had a long career on the stage! For this concert she was not only accompanying us on piano, but provided expert advice to Anne T for her Noël Coward solo, ‘Please, Mrs Worthington!’. Steve Howard was on hand for flute accompaniment and page-turning.

Behind the scenes - second soprano line in blue!Despite appearances, no deliberate effort was made to co-ordinate dresses for this concert!

Bella Nova Singers perform in Ringwood, with classical singing teacher Michelle NovaThe Bella Nova Singers young ensemble also performed, slightly low on numbers but aided by Anne T and Josie .

Photo by Dennis of Rivendell Designs Photography

Photo by Dennis of Rivendell Designs Photography

Three Little Maids refusing to be held back by the mysterious disappearance of their fans!

Colourful Dorset choir La Nova Singers perform in Ringwood Meeting House

Let’s hear it for the Studio Choir! – Joint concert for Macmillan Caring Locally is a resounding success

Michelle Nova, singer and singing teacher, with the Studio Choir at a concert in Bournemouth

It’s not an unusual story in this day and age: a disparate group of women, brought together almost by chance and faced with the apparently insurmountable task of forming themselves into an elite singing ensemble. In just a few short weeks, these women became a fully-fledged choir. Their mission: to sing – aargh! – in public, and raise some money for charity into the bargain.

But this is not a television show. This is the Studio Choir, formed from participants in singing teacher Michelle Nova’s first all-female Bel Canto choral course. Like the now-famous Military Wives Choir created by Gareth Malone, they enjoyed the many benefits of singing: the intense focus that takes your mind off day-to-day worry; the conscious breathing and good posture; and the confidence that comes from mastering a difficult challenge. They have also had the opportunity to study techniques passed down by the great Bel Canto singers of history, and put these to use in a charity concert for Christchurch-based cancer charity Macmillan Caring Locally.

Studio Choir, La Nova Singers, Bella Nova Singers and Michelle Nova

We members of La Nova Singers were of course not allowed to rest on our laurels and let these other talented women do all the singing! The concert, ‘Light is my Heart’, featured performances from ourselves and our ‘little sister’ ensemble Bella Nova Singers; so there was a wide range of different music for the audience to enjoy. All the singers joined together to perform songs including Ricevete from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and The Rhythm of Life.

Thanks to a generous audience, we raised £365 for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Exclusive video footage from the concert will soon be available from the La Nova Studios YouTube channel.

www.lanovasingers.co.uk