The chorus for the Worcester 2020 festival has now been filled. Auditions for the Hereford 2021 festival chorus will take place in autumn 2020.
The Three Choirs Festival Chorus is primarily made up of experienced amateur sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, who rehearse twice a week or more from May until July in order to sing in the festival’s Opening Service and most of the evening orchestral concerts. They are auditioned every three years in their local festival city, and if successful are usually eligible to sing in the next three festivals. For the first few weeks they rehearse separately with the artistic director of their respective cities; then joint rehearsals are gradually added on Saturdays and some weekday evenings, taken where possible by the conductor of the relevant festival concert.
Singing in the Three Choirs Festival Chorus is an enormous commitment, involving many hours and days of rehearsal, performance and travel between the three cities. The musical challenge of learning and singing such a lot of large-scale, often unfamiliar repertoire within such a short timescale is immense; few amateur choruses in the world face such an undertaking. But the rewards are equally enormous: opportunities to sing some of the greatest choral music ever written with a world-class symphony orchestra and soloists and an array of conductors, each with different skills, insights and interpretations, alongside some of the best amateur singers in the UK.
The chorus sings a wider than average range of repertoire, including premieres such as A Foreign Field by the German Torsten Rasch, performed at the 2014 Worcester Three Choirs Festival as part of the 14-18 NOW World War One Centenary Art Commissions, and rarely-performed works from the choral archive. Handel’s Messiah was performed either in its entirety or in part every year until 1963 and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, written in 1847, every year until 1929. But the chorus has a special affinity with the music of the great English composers of the late Victorian and early 20th-century period who were so closely associated with the Three Choirs cities: Hubert Parry, Ralph Vaughan Williams and especially Worcester-born Edward Elgar, whose major oratorios continue to be performed in rotation every few years in each city. It is an unforgettable experience for a new member to attend their first rehearsal of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with a choir that knows the work as well as most choral societies know Messiah.
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