An excellent article from the editor of our current (Spring 2018) newsletter. (Click on newsletter image to the right to download as PDF.) Well done Mitch!
What Is The Point Of A Choirmaster?
The conductor raises the baton, the choir takes a deep breath and the piano bursts into life. The audience can only see the conductor’s back and the movement of the baton keeping time, while the choir sings. I have stood before relatively few choir conductors in my short time, but I have been astonished at the change of sound the same choir produces under the different batons. A choir is a musical instrument that needs to be tuned by an expert before a performance and then played by an expert during it. The Snowdown choir is indeed fortunate that their current choirmaster, (Michael Lewis) is a man with many strings to his bow and apart from his obvious musical talents he understands that you ‘catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar’. The current standard of the choir’s singing is a testament to his ability to use praise and encouragement to bring out the best in everyone.
A legend in the art of the choirmaster is none other than Alwyn Humphreys MBE, who will conduct the
Massed Voices Concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 19th May, 2018.
The Snowdown choir is a rare bird which will also be singing alongside the multitude of home-grown Welsh choirs on that day. To ensure that all the participating choirs are up to the standard required, Alwyn makes flying visits to listen to, and train, all of the choristers taking part in the nuances of the pieces to be performed.
In February, Alwyn arrived in Aylesham to raise his baton before a nervous assembly of choristers, and proceeded to put them through their paces. It is to Snowdown’s credit that Alwyn has in previous visits praised the choir for their dedication in learning the many tricky Welsh pieces of music required for the performances, and again the choristers proved they had manfully raised their game for this year’s event.
Alwyn rightfully has a reputation for inspiring a choir to produce their very best performance. When he conducts, the passion and enthusiasm pours out of him and into the choir. You cannot help but lift your voice and follow him as his baton slashes the air and his eyes fix you in his gaze. To sing in the Albert Hall while the roar of the mighty Jupiter organ thunders above you and a conductor such as Alwyn before you, urging you to give of your all, is an experience you will always remember.