Athenaeum Singers


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 Programme for 2019


 Saturday 19th October 2019.  9.30am

All day Workshop

Warminster Baptist Church
BA12 9AD

Saturday 30th November 2019. 7pm 

Poulenc : Gloria

Vaughan Williams : Fantasia on Christmas Carols

Works by Mellisa Dunphy, Alice Tegner, Will Todd,      Joanna Gill and James MacMillan 

The Minster Church of St Denys, Warminster
BA12 8PQ 



Tuesday 10th December  7.30pm

'The Really Big Carol Sing'

Join the singers in an evening of singing your favourite carols.  The emphasis is on participation- just a couple of choir items and a few short readings to allow you to get your breath back! Followed by hot punch and mince pies.

Admission free - retiring collection for Cornerstone Warminster and Christ Church.

 Christ Church, Warminster BA12 9NS


Programme for 2020

Saturday 14th March 2020 at 9.30am

Come and Sing Day

Everyone is welcome to join the singers in a day
learning and singing our best loved Sacred Choruses from the new OUP book of the same name, edited by John Rutter.

10am - 4.30pm Workshop
4.30pm Informal concert showcasing our efforts.
Please invite relatives and friends.

Christ Church, Warminster BA12 9NS



Saturday  6th June  2020 at 7pm

The English and French Connection

Works by Purcell, Elgar, Rameau, Faure and Boulanger

The Minster Church of St Denys, Warminster
BA12 8PQ

Concert Review :  30th November 2019

The Athenaeum Singers’ departing director, Cole Bendall, placed considerable demands on his choir for his final concert at The Minster. The programme consisted of two larger works and six smaller ones, all in contrasting styles. One sensed that he had indulged his own personal musical tastes and at times these were not necessarily on the same palette as that of his Singers. The music certainly stretched them to their limits and choristers are at their best when they are confident and relaxed. However the Singers responded creditably with some lovely moments to send him on his way.

James Macmillan’s O radiant dawn is harmonically quite accessible and, while the pitch wavered, it ended with well-voiced hushed Amens. The ensuing music by three contemporary female composers - Melissa Dunphy, Alice Tegner and Joanna Gill – were more demanding. There were times when it seemed as though the choir was feeling its way a little but they were at ease with the barbershop harmonies at the start of Alice Tegner’s music and there was some lusty singing in Joanna Gill’s I heard the bells on Christmas day. Will Todd’s My Lord has come was sung with sensitivity and a palpable sense of mystery at the incarnation.

Francis Poulenc’s Gloria is a unique piece in the choral repertoire. The melodic lines are often sketchy … wisps of angular music here and there, and not always predictable, posing real challenges to the performers. The organ playing of Will Briant was exemplary with well chosen, colourful registration and the perfect amount of support for the Singers. Jillian Bain Christie (soprano) sang her lines with confidence but she failed to engage with the audience and this was a missed opportunity as communication is key in performance. The Singers had good diction and were at their best in the Laudamus te with good antiphonal singing and an emphatic ending.

The first half concluded with Vaughan Williams’ tried and tested Fantasia on Christmas Carols. While at times a stronger presence from the Singers would have been welcomed, their hushed moments were well presented and there was great balance between Singers, organ and Alex Pratley, the bass soloist, whose light, warm voice and engaging presence was a highlight of the evening.

The concert ended with Rheinberger’s Abendleid, the style of which was so well suited to the Singers, and it proved a fitting and musical farewell to their outgoing director.

Alan Burgess


Pre concert press release.

The Athenaeum Singers will present a varied and exciting programme at their concert at The Minster, Warminster, on Saturday 30th November.  The arrival of Christmas is heralded in a series of shorter pieces and in Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, which draws its inspiration  fromfolk carols from southern England. 

The singers will be accompanied on the organ by Will Briant, who held the position of organ scholar at St Giles’ Cathedral and St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh.  The soprano roles will be sung by Jillian Bain Christie who makes a return visit to Warminster having sung last year in Vivaldi’s Gloria, in which she was commended for the warmth, sensitivity and precision of her performance.  Alexander Pratley will take the baritone lead in the Fantasia on Christmas Carols and both Jillian and Alexander will feature in some of the shorter pieces.

The main piece in the second half of the concert will be Poulenc’s dramatic Gloria, a piece full of surprises and huge contrasts. The Gloria, a setting of the Latin Mass in six movements, was written in 1959 and enjoyed immediate acclaim after its first  performance. It is certainly a piece to challenge the singers as it swings from lyrical melodic writing to abrupt, clipped phrases,  from hushed, reflective mood to rousing, rhythmic vivacity.

Two settings of an Advent antiphon which herald the arrival of light in the darkness will be presented, James Macmillan’s beautiful O Radiant Dawn and Melissa Dunphy’s O Oriens. A setting of Psalm 148, a composition of Alice Tegner, will be sung in Swedish and Rheinberger’s six part composition, Abendlied, in German.  Carols by Will Todd and Joanna Gill complete the programme.

And to ensure that the festive spirit triumphs, drinks and mince pies will be available during the interval.

In eager anticipation of the evening, the singers’ conductor, Cole Bendall says,

“This concert is the perfect mix of festive music past and present - contemporary works by Melissa Dunphy and Joanna Gill contrast with the familiar, comforting carols in Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia. Poulenc’s Gloria is the ideal counterpart: playful, intuitive music that is at times reflective and at others, raucous and celebratory. Joined by a crack team of soloists and professional musicians, this concert is going to be very special.”


The Really Big Carol Sing 

Enjoy singing carols? The Really Big Carol Sing will be taking place in Christ Church on Tuesday 10th December, starting at 7.30 pm.  Hosted and led by the Athenaeum Singers, with their conductor, Cole Bendall, this is your chance to join in singing some favourite carols, hopefully with lots of other people, to herald the Christmas season.  We are not vying for a place in The Guinness Book of Records, but we would like to fulfil our ambitious title and have lots of people enjoying the event.

The emphasis is on participation, but there will be a couple of choir items and a few readings to give you a chance to get your breath back between the carols, and mince pies and hot punch at the end.

There is no charge for the evening, but there will be a retiring collection to be shared between Cornerstone and Christ Church.  Cornerstone provides a valuable service to anyone in our community who needs assistance and helps people in a wide range of circumstances.

Whether you are a croaker or a chorister, please add your voice.











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