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2024 Crickhowell Music Festival – Heaven Calling!

Posted 11/02/24

One for your diaries; as for the last 28 years, the Crickhowell Music Festival will take place over the early May Bank Holiday – that’s 3rd-6th May this year. Headline pieces are C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat (not to be confused with his dad, J.S.) and Purcell’s simply magical Ode to St Cecilia. The choir doesn’t completely rule the roost. There is a collection of world renowned soloists who will join us on Saturday and Sunday, and to get us going on Friday is a Welsh folk evening featuring the legendary trio, VRï. Monday concludes the Festival with The Egg, a one-act opera written by former Choral Society Scholar, Tomos Jones, and featuring a treasured collection of emerging talent. More detail to follow – don’t forget!

Who are we?

Local GP David Hiley takes the credit. He used to ask his patients if they could sing and when enough of them owned up he started Crickhowell Choral Society back in 1981. Some of them still turn up, including David himself, and remain stalwarts at the heart of the 50 or 60 singers we now comprise.
Like Crickhowell itself, the choir is a mixed bag with people who have lived in the area all their lives, and others who by various means have discovered the border country, liked it, moved in and decided that singing might be the icing on the cake.

What do we do?

The repertoire is very varied, and if you don’t know us you may be surprised at its extent. Yes, major choral works certainly feature strongly – Bach’s B Minor Mass and the St John Passion, the Verdi Requiem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius – spring to mind, but so do less known works, music by more modern composers – the likes of Arvo Part and James Macmillan, and frankly some of the more tricky compositions that many choirs try to ignore. Occasionally we’ll do semi-staged performances like Purcell’s Fairy Queen. Conductor Stephen Marshall’s knack and indeed hallmark is to find music that ultimately stretches the choir just far enough to make us feel that we’ve actually achieved something special when the performance goes well, as of course it invariably does. It’s very satisfying on so many levels.

The practical stuff

The choir meets on a Monday evening at 7.30  at the lovely Bear Hotel, the old coaching inn very much at the heart of Crickhowell and a short walk from the town’s car park.  It is the perfect venue for the mid-evening social break, a vital part of any rehearsal.

Performances

Typically four every year. We follow an academic calendar for reasons that remain a mystery, so September starts with rehearsals for our late-November performance, usually held at St Edmund’s church. Then there’s Christmas, often in the company of local school singers and performers, and in the New Year we begin to prepare for our major event of the year, the Crickhowell Music Festival which takes place over the early May Bank Holiday weekend. Perfect.
Before the summer hols we hold a summer concert, often something lighter, then it all starts again.