Number 11. Thursday, 13th November, 2014

The Orpheus Choir's Concert in 
St. Fin Barre's Cathedral
- from Baroque to Modern Times -

Two wonderful artists will be joining The Orpheus Choir in their concert in St. Fin Barre's Cathedral on Saturday, 22nd. November, 2014, for what promises to be a very special programme of music – from Baroque to Modern Times - the Director of Music and Head Organist of St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Malcolm Wisener, who will play the magnificent Cathedral organ and a young rising star in Cork and environs, Andrew Thomson, who, with his sonorous baritone voice, will interlace the choral and instrumental tapestry of the programme with various vocal highlights, ranging from the delicate filigree of Bach's Mathew Passion to the dramatic intensity of Gl├╝ck's 'Orfeo' and Mendelssohn's 'Elijah'.
Malcolm Wisener
photo: Internet

Malcolm Wisener
Originally from Coleraine, County Derry, on leaving school, Malcolm went to the Royal College of Music in London and became an organ scholar at Southwark Cathedral. After that, he served first as assistant organist in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin before taking on the post of Director of Music at Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Clyde Road, Dublin, where he built up a large choir of boys and men alongside the development of a girl’s choir. He took up the post of Head Organist and Director of Music at St. Fin Barre's Cathedral in 2008.
The Cathedral organ dates back to 1870 and was built by William Hill and the fact that it is still there today stands as a testament to the quality of its making. In the 1920s, it was rebuilt by an English firm, who didn’t alter it much, but, in 1966, there were some alterations made to bring it in line with the fashion of those days of playing Baroque music more authentically. Recently, the organ has been extensively renovated, restoring its 4,000 pipes and now it is a unique example of its kind and the largest organ in the whole of Ireland.
Andrew Thomson
photo: Hans van den Bos

Andrew Thomson
The Scottish baritone, Andrew Thomson, developed a love of music at a very early age and already engaged in musical activities while still at school, studying piano and singing in numerous theatre groups and Scottish Opera productions. He won several awards for both piano and singing and featured at music festivals, for example, the Moray Music Festival. After taking an Arts Degree in Music, English and History at Glasgow University, Andrew moved to Ireland in 2001 and has since studied singing with Hilary Reynolds L.R.A.M. (London), passing the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Grade 8 exam with Distinction. In April of this year, Andrew made his professional concert debut in the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth with a superb recital of songs and operatic arias in four different languages (including Russian!) to high acclaim. The Orpheus Choir also put in an unexpected appearance in an exciting Flash Mob Finale!

The Orpheus Choir
A 30-strong, mixed-voiced ensemble, The Orpheus Choir will sing a number of classical and romantic pieces, which, enhanced by the sublime acoustic of the Cathedral, are guaranteed to sound at their very best, and, to finish up the programme on a somewhat more contemporary note, it will bring a few familiar 'tunes' in slightly unfamiliar garbs, ending up 'with a bit of a swing'!

Tickets are €10,- and can be obtained from the Cathedral Shop or at the door on the night. The proceeds of the concert are designated to the upkeep of the Cathedral.

Hilary Reynolds - musical director

Number 10. Friday, 7th November, 2014

The Legend of Orpheus
Orpheus performs for Poseidon

Mount Olympus
In Greek legend, Orpheus was the son of Oeagrus by the muse Calliope, and the most illustrious poet of the pre-Homeric period. He lived in Thrace, and accompanied the Argonouts on their expedition. Orpheus was presented by Apollo with a lyre, on which he played so exquisitely, that not only every living thing, but also rivers and rocks were moved by his sweet harmony and obeyed his will. He married the nymph Eurydice, who died from a serpent's sting. Resolved to recover her, Orpheus dared to descend into Hades. The  music from his lyre gained him entrance, and so captivated Pluto that he consented to his request on condition that he should not look back at his wife until they reached the upper world. But when he was almost there, Orpheus turned to see if she was following him, whereupon Eurydice vanished before his eyes.
In his grief, he then retreated to amountain cave and scorned the amorous advances of the Thracian women, who, in revenge, tore him limb from limb in Bacchic frenzy and threw his head into the Hebrus. The muses collected his remains and buried them at the foot of Olympus, while Zeus placed his lyre among the stars.

Number 9. Tuesday, 4th November, 2014

An Appeal for Enthusiastic Singers!

by Hilary Reynolds - musical director

Just a handful of enthusiastic singers, whom I brought together back in 2005, formed the nuclear of the ad-hoc ensemble which was to become The Orpheus Choir as we know it today. Yet, less than two years later in the spring of 2007, with only about twenty singers, it managed to pull off an inaugural concert in Castletown-roche for North Cork Classical Music , due to the sheer 'spunk' of its members and my firm belief in its ability and commitment.

Since then, it has had a whole load of adventures; singing many concerts in Cork City and County as well as in Waterford, entering choral competitions, with a third and first prize win in two of them, and, above all, tackling and mastering some of the most demanding pieces in the canon of great choral music. Whether it be the tonal control, perfect intonation and musicality required for such pieces as Elgar's great choral ballade: 'My love dwelt in a Northern land' or Stanford's shimmering colour palette in 'The blue bird', or the full-blooded power and stamina asked for in the opera choruses of Verdi: 'The Chorus of Hebrew Slaves', 'The Monks' Chorus' and in Bizet's Carmen: 'Vivat le Torero' 'The Toreador Song', Orpheus took it on with equanimity.

Now, as we approach our tenth anniversary year in 2015, the choir's greatest challenge is the continued recruiting of new members to the club. Some of those pioneer singers from 2005 are still with us today, but, inevitably, a number of singers have come and gone over the years. In order to keep growing and developing and to be able to keep up the high standards of choral singing of which the choir is justly proud, it is imperative to find and welcome and nurture more of those enthusiastic singers, who love great choral music and enjoy the task of surmounting its difficulties, and who want to join this happy band of friendly people to build something really worthwhile and deeply rewarding. Then The Orpheus Choir can not only look back on its past triumphs, but also look forward to even greater successes in the future.