Music at GMC
2007 Festival Events
Chepstow Male Voice Choir was formed in March, 1988 and gave its inaugural concert in St. Mary's Church, Chepstow, in the same year. Throughout its existence, the choir has remained true to the tradition of giving pleasure to others through song.
The Choir renewed the presence of male choral singing in Chepstow which had lapsed during the Second World War. It may be unique in the tradition of male choirs in Wales in that it draws members not only from long established residents of the area but also includes men from further west in South Wales who came eastwards with the opening of the Llanwern Steelworks and others from across Offa's Dyke in the Forest of Dean, where, too, there has been a long tradition of male voice choirs. This amalgam of voices has given Chepstow a distinctive tone and balance as well as a feature often commented upon by audiences, a clarity of diction.
In male voice choir singing, four part harmony is the format, the usual arrangement of sections (facing the choir) being bass on the right, next to baritone (middle right), then second tenor (middle left), with top tenor on the left. In Chepstow Choir they tried a different line-up a few years ago, with the basses and baritones on the wings (bass on the right) and the tenors in the middle ("tops" to the left of centre and "seconds" to the right). This was the preference of the Musical Director of the time, who felt it gave better balance of sound, and they have kept it ever since.
The choir is led by Brian Howard whose extensive band and choral conducting experience are further emphasising the unique character of Chepstow's singing qualities. He is assisted by Elaine Rigby who has wide choir experience, joining them in 2006. Elaine ran her own youth choir in Chepstow for some years. They also rejoice in having two superb piano accompanists, Rosemarie Lewis and Eileen Chesworth.
The choristers have experienced the joys of singing in the wonderful acoustics of such buildings as Wells and Bristol Cathedrals, in the Royal Albert Hall and in Malmesbury Abbey. Tonight they were delighted to be visiting Gillingham Methodist Church!
The London Forest Choir was established in 1950 in Walthamstow, North East London, where it has been based ever since. Their conductor is Jonathan Rathbone, formerly musical director of the Swingle Singers, whilst they were accompanied on the organ this afternoon by Stefan Reid.
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Jennifer Holt BMus (Hons) was born in Poole in 1983 and began violin tuition from her mother at the age of 3. She has since studied with Alison Kay, Dr Robert Jacoby and at Trinity College of Music with Ezster Boda Katona and Gina McCormack. Following her graduation, she is living and working in Bournemouth, where she continues her study under Duncan Riddell.
As a soloist Jennifer was awarded the E M Pearce Prize for instrumental music whilst still a student. This led to a performance of the Bruch Violin Concerto under her father's baton! She has since given many performances in the UK, both as soloist and with her duo partner. Venues include, Regent Hall, Winchester Cathedral, Canary Wharf, the Jacqueline du Pre Music building in Oxford, the Royal Courts of Justice, and most recently, the Barbican Centre in London. Whilst studying at Trinity College of Music, she participated in Masterclasses with Michael Bochmann, Anthony Marwood, and Gordon Nikolitch, and this year, was awarded the Mehroo and Byram Jeejeebhoy Duo Prize.
Most of Jennifer's playing commitments are to chamber music. As well as her established duo, Jennifer also leads the Chimera Quartet, taking coaching from Elizabeth Turnball. The quartet has participated in Masterclasses with the Brodsky, Vellinger and Wihan Quartets and gives regular recitals around the UK, most recently at London's St-Martin-in-the-Fields.
Jean Holt graduated from the Royal College of Music where she studied violin, piano and accompanying. On completion of her studies she moved to Dorset where she taught music in several local schools. Her present position is Head of Music at St. Edwards School in Poole. Since becoming Musical Director for the Bournemouth Gilbert & Sullivan Operatic Society in 1991, she has conducted their concert season and main production each year.
A renowned chef and winemaker, Jean also manages to musically direct a variety of amateur operatic companies, as well as carrying out her day job as Head of Music.