The Aeolian Singers have been entertaining the people of Hemel Hempstead for sixty years. During that time the singers have enjoyed many outstanding occasions, from exchange choir trips abroad and hosting return visits, working extensively with young people in Dacorum, hosting workshops led by renowned musicians like Bob Chilcott and Peter Skellern (our former President) and of course performing many of the great choral orchestral classics at The Pavilion. The Pavilion: the town’s much loved performance venue, was scandalously demolished in 2002; its absence now meant a change in direction for the Aeolians.
Their new performing “home” became St John’s church in Boxmoor, and this next chapter in their history has been marked by many lovely concerts including their 50th anniversary celebrations during which they performed Handel’s Messiah, a highly significant choice, as the choir’s founder Roy Abrams chose it back in 1963 for the choir’s very first performance. The anniversary concert in 2014 was graced by Roy’s presence, by now in his eighties and guesting in the orchestra playing his cello!
In November 2016 the Aeolians promoted a performance of one of the greatest of all choral orchestral works: Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, and were joined by three wonderful soloists, London based City Chamber Choir and the Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra. The review in the local paper said “it was a most distinguished and moving performance, the like of which is rarely seen outside London.” But we also do lighter music and, of course, carols at Christmas. We welcome suggestions from our members for music to learn and perform.
More recently (in March 2019) the Aeolians hosted a special concert in aid of AGE UK and were joined by Dacorum Community Choir, the chamber choir from Sandringham School in St Albans and young instrumentalists from St Albans School in a performance of Bob Chilcott’s The Voyage
All our endeavours were then put on hold as the country went into lockdown. Undaunted, we rehearsed online and were able to produce recordings to upload to our website. We worked through pieces for double choir by Schütz, the celebrated setting of the Miserere by Allegri and music by Mendelssohn and Palestrina. As time went on we began planning for an actual face to face concert with a real audience, incorporating some of the music we had already studied and adding fresh repertoire which we finally got to rehearse in person two weeks before the concert!
The first of the rehearsals at Leverstock Green Primary School as lockdown was lifted was an occasion to relish – a bit like the man in the desert stumbling upon an oasis and a pool of fresh water: boy, did we drink, or in this case sing! Even the first scale we sang of the warm up exercises was magical. What joy to be able to sing in company again. Now next season beckons with some exciting music in prospect.
We are a small and friendly choir at present and we are always looking for new members to join us on our music-making journey – why not come and give us a try? It might be just the activity you need to raise your spirits again! Details of where and when we meet are given here.
The Music Director is Stephen Jones.