Crawley concert celebrates 900 years of choral music by female composers

Sonar

The London-based choral quartet aim to bring “sophisticated, accessible choral gigging to the city and beyond” – and they’re excited to branch out to Crawley where their bass guitarist George Salmon is musical director of Crawley’s Phoenix Choir.

Joining George at Sonare are: Victoria Stilwell, soprano; Stella Bracegirdle, viola; and Toby Churchley, tenor (tickets on www.sonarechoir.com).

Victoria said: “We’re all based in London, but we’re trying to spread things a bit further afield and it’s really been a bit of a baptism of fire. It’s tricky because we try to do everything ourselves, which is good in some ways, because you have the first and last say on everything you do, but anything that you think takes five minutes takes one half hour!

“We trained in the spring of 2021.

“We met as choral scholars at a church in Hackney in October 2019. The choral fellowship was supposed to be for one year but it lasted two due to circumstances and we formed as a group based on that coming out of the pandemic we thought things could actually be a bit of a bloodbath and that we should really try to create our own opportunities.

“We recorded an album in February this year. We had the best moments on our first tour and we’re just trying to keep the momentum going. We released the album to coincide with our spring tour in May and now we are doing our third tour in a year.

“We feel that we are progressing. We met some lovely people in the audience who were really supportive and we just have to build on that. It’s hard to build momentum when you stop and start, so we know we have to keep working and we know there’s a real audience out there for us.

“Everyone was starving for stuff during the pandemic while they were just watching and listening at home, and it was so nice to come back out there and see people in real gigs. The big goal would be to do it full time. And very slowly, we are moving in that direction.

“We’re starting to do weddings and funerals and all those sorts of things, so there’s that aspect of the job as well, but long term we’d like to shoot and record full time.

“I think what sets us apart is that we like to explore things. That’s the great thing about us. We like to do a variety of things. There are some things we do that are crowd-pleasing, but we also love giving people little things they might not know so much about.

The latest show looks at 900 years of female composers: “We really wanted to do this from the beginning, but we want to do it at the right time and in the right way. And I think that comes to the fore now. There are more and more programs for women. We have a composer in our band, Stella, and she wrote one of the pieces for us.

“It’s really exciting to make these composers a little more overlooked. For a very long time this industry was very male dominated and I don’t really know why. I find that very difficult to say. There are a few composers like Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann’s wife, composers who are linked to greater composers but they are still not seen or heard as much as they should be and her music is just amazing.

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