London-based chamber choir Consort SW1 will make their Arundel Festival debut

Richard McVeigh
Richard McVeigh

London-based chamber choir Consort SW1 are bringing a concert entitled Faire is the Heaven to Arundel Cathedral on Saturday, August 24 at 7.30pm.

On their first visit to the town, the new choir, formed last year, promise to take the audience on a breath-taking sound journey, using the space and light of the cathedral to maximum effect.

Featuring music by Eric Whitacre, Charles Villiers Stanford, William Henry Harris, John Tavener and Eriks Esenvalds, their Arundel Festival evening will be an immersion in a stunning choral sound world, says Richard McVeigh who brought the choir together last October.

“The choir is based in London and we started in 2018. I am an experienced cathedral organist who doesn’t do cathedral music full time. I have a normal job as a project manager, but I have a passion for choral music. The choir essentially started up out of a conversation with a few colleagues and friends in central London with the idea of starting a choir that would primarily sing services in cathedrals around the country.

“We started in October and we have already performed in Winchester and Chichester and Salisbury. It is not a bad start.

“It has happened through word of mouth and personal contacts and also auditions. We are a group of experienced, passionate singers that come together to rehearse for two or three rehearsals before an engagement. Things have taken off. Word has spread through our website and our Facebook presence.”

24 is the magic number, six sopranos, six altos, six tenors and six basses – though the approach remains flexible: “It really depends on the repertoire we are doing.”

The bass line-up could be extended to eight, or for a small engagement, the whole choir might be reduced to 18 in total.

Richard is delighted to be bringing the choir to Arundel, a place he knows well: “Arundel is one of my most favourite cathedrals.

“It has got the most wonderful acoustic. Some people compare it to Notre Dame and say it is a smaller version of Notre Dame.

“You can see what they mean. I knew straight away that I would take the choir to Arundel to sing there if I could. I love the light there. I love the architecture there.

“The concert itself is based on the theme of space and light and sound. We will be using the space to the full effect. We will be singing in various locations around the cathedral, and we are going to be using special lighting effects to enhance the wonderful architecture, and we are also going to be using the wonderful acoustic to full effect… and I am also going to be playing the organ.”

As for the future, Richard said: “We would very much want to record in the next 12 months.

“ What that will be, I don’t know yet, but that’s absolutely what we want to do. We have got an-other concert in Winchester in December, in the beautiful church of St Cross.

“Our ethos is to sing services in our wonderful cathedrals around the country. A lot of our choral singing is within the liturgy, and we would also like to do one or two concerts a year.”

Tickets are £10 for adults, £7.50 for children and students, and will be available on the door.

For more information about the choir, visit www.consortsw1.com.

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