FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Vivaldi’s Gloria perfected in a day!

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Arthur Robson passes on the baton to his son Tom for this year’s Festival of Chichester Come and Sing Day on Saturday, July 2 at the University of Chichester’s Chapel Of The Ascension, College Lane, Chichester.

The day offers the chance to join a big chorus of amateur singers to learn and perform Vivaldi’s famous Gloria. Open to all, all ages and all abilities, it comprises an all-day rehearsal followed by an evening performance.

“I am slowly handing over the reins to my sons,” Arthur says. “I think it is just a natural progression really. It certainly hasn’t been difficult. They have learnt a lot over the years and are certainly very capable, and really there is nothing quite like youth to inspire people. Most of the people that come along are of a particular generation, and youth will be great to have.

“My sons were all brought up on this actually. I remember doing Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer, and they were all there. I think Tom is excited at the thought of taking this on. He has helped me with the university chamber choir in the last year or so. He has had a lot of practice! He lives in London and is full time at Westminster Cathedral as a tenor. He sings with all the other major professional groups. He has always wanted to sing ever since he was a small boy as a chorister in Chichester.”

As for the choice of piece this year: “We have been looking at things we have done, and this is certainly a lollipop that attracts singers. Vivaldi’s Gloria is a sure winner. It is actually quite a short piece, but it has got that familiarity. It is very well known and people love the sound of it. It starts with a great buzz and has got great energy, but is also very reflective in parts.

“For the singers taking part, what is so important is to keep watching the conductor while keeping an eye on the score. Keep one eye on the pot and the other one up the chimney is what I say! If you don’t keep looking at the conductor, the whole thing can fall apart. It is full of energy, and it is all about the rhythm. If you don’t stay with it, you can be in trouble.

“It is usually the men that fall behind. They are usually situated behind the girls, and they take a bit of time. They tend not to watch. It’s an awfully-sexist thing to say, but they tend to do their own the thing. But they have their virtues. They are loud and they tend to have more confidence. Perhaps it is bravado. Maybe the confidence is not particularly well-founded!”

But it will be Tom’s role on the day – and on the night – to bring it all together.

Arthur, who will be one of the sectional rehearsal leaders during the day, is promising a great atmosphere throughout, with, as always, one of the great fun points being the vocal warm-ups at the start of the day before the men and women go their separate ways for rehearsals. In the afternoon, they reunite under Tom’s baton.

Lunch, tea and coffee available and free parking. Start time for singers: 10am; start time for audience 7.30pm. Singers application forms from the box office or telephone Polly Robson on 01243 823481 or pollyrobson2003@yahoo.co.uk. Tickets £20 for singers; £5 audience; children free. It is possible to sign up on the day, but you would have to bring your own lunch if you do so.

n Arthur’s second contribution to the festival will be to direct Chichester Chorale as they return with a concert of choral gems at their favourite venue with a concert in Boxgrove Priory on Wednesday, July 6 at 7.30pm.

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