Soprano Charlotte Cantrell shares her highlights for our busy Autumn season, and forgives Beethoven in the process.
I can remember the conversation with my mum over a decade ago, when working out which choir I wanted to join. She was keen for me to go along to her choir which is great and does lots of new and unusual pieces. But I was adamant that I wanted to sing “all the big choral works in all the big concert halls; Beethoven, Mozart, Handel!”.
So I joined the London Philharmonic Choir and wasn’t disappointed – I’ve been lucky enough to sing in some incredible concerts over the years, each new season offering lots to get excited about. And this season is no exception; in fact, it’s a bumper season with loads of those “big choral works” that made me want to join in the first place, and that have kept me here 13 years later.
What a start!
When you think of the great choral masterpieces, Verdi’s dramatic, operatic, beautiful Requiem is surely one of the first to spring to mind. What a start to the new season then!
We’ll be performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall in September. Singing in the Albert Hall is always so exciting and feels such a privilege. Belting out the Dies Irae with as much drama and passion as we can muster will be another “pinch-yourself” moment for me, I’m sure.
I love Beethoven. I think he might be my favourite composer. In fact, I love him so much, I’m willing to forgive him his incredibly challenging soprano lines in the glorious Symphony No. 9, (which we are performing in October, fresh off the back of an exhilarating Proms performance) AND in the piece we’re performing in November, his wonderful Missa Solemnis.
As a second soprano, this is not an easy sing. It involves a lot of singing at the very highest notes of my range. Possibly a few that are not really reachable for me. But, it is SO good. There’s no way I could not sign up for this one. Added to the fact that we’re performing in the Royal Festival Hall, with our orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and one of the all-time great conductors (and my personal favourite) at the helm, Sir Mark Elder, this is unmissable.
Joining Forces with the BBC
A packed season sometimes means back to back concert weekends. With just enough time to draw-breath after Missa Solemnis, we find ourselves performing another great choral masterpiece: Berlioz’s Requiem.
This time, we’ll be joining forces with the BBC Symphony Chorus; a real treat as they are another of the country’s top choirs. I last performed this work back in 2007 at St. Paul’s Cathedral and I remember it had a very large orchestra and really big choir, the sound was quite tremendous at times, so I’m really excited to be revisiting this and at the Royal Albert Hall too – extra special!
The end of the year sees us performing some choral classics in spectacular fashion (master of puns, me!). The Classical Spectaculars are enormous fun – lasers, can-can dancers, canons, fireworks, flags, popular classics – what more can you ask for?
I particularly love sharing the Albert Hall stage with the Band of The Welsh Guards. They’re resplendent in their uniforms, play beautifully, and are always good for a joke and sharing around a few sweets! They’re a highlight. And don’t just take my word for it – my choir buddy and fellow soprano married one of them!
To send of 2016 in style we have two lovely Christmas concerts. I have loved carol concerts at the Albert Hall since I was a very little girl. Going every year, it always spells the start of Christmas for me – the Albert Hall feels even more magical than usual, and carols with a full orchestra are always pretty terrific. I look forward to this concert every year.
The other Christmas concert is also pretty special; Handel’s Messiah which is performed by candlelight, with us singing in cassocks and the orchestra wearing period costume, complete with wigs! The Messiah was THE work that I wanted to sing when I first joined the choir, and I’m so happy that this has become a regular concert in our schedule. “All the big works in all the big concert halls” is exactly what I get to do every year – and this year is especially thrilling!
If you are interested in joining us for these concerts, please visit our Join Us page.
You can view further details of all our concerts in our 2016/2017 Season Listing