Athenaeum Singers

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Our 40th Anniversary Year!


Programme for 2018

Saturday  28th April  2018.  9.30 am.


Open to anyone to join us to sing for the day.  Our Director of Music, Edward Rhys-Harry, will lead us through the biblical story of Elijah as we sing the chorus pieces from Elijah.  Workshop days with Edward are always great fun and tremendously productive.

 Felix Mendelssohn: Elijah

Warminster Baptist Church, North Row, Warminster
BA12 9AD

Saturday  2nd June  2018.  7.00pm.

We celebrate our 40th Anniversary with this dramatic oratorio based on the biblical story of Elijah.


Felix Mendelssohn: Elijah

The Minster Church of St Denys, Warminster
BA12 8PQ



Sunday 3rd June 2018

40th Anniversary Picnic

Codford Village Hall

Tuesday 9th January 2018 at 7.30pm
 Rehearsals begin for our summer concert which will take place on 2nd June 2018.  We will be performing Mendelssohn’s wonderful oratorio ‘Elijah’, which has some terrific choruses for us to sing.  The cost for all rehearsals leading up to the concert will be £50. They will be led by our energetic, young Chorus Master Rosie Howarth whose teaching skill is outstanding.  We hope that many ‘old’ friends will join us again in this production for the enjoyment of singing and to produce a concert to be proud of. Please let us know you are joining us by emailing Jan on:

Saturday 28th April  2018 at 9.30am
 A ‘Come and Sing’ day on Elijah.  It is open for anyone to join us to sing for the day, and will be structured to tell the story of Elijah as we rehearse the pieces.  Sadly this will be our last workshop led by Director of Music, Edward-Rhys Harry.  Our workshop days with Edward are always great fun and tremendously productive.  The story telling aspect will be an added bonus.  For those joining us for the day who are not choir members, there will be a small charge.

Saturday 2nd June 2018 at 7pm
Our 40th Anniversary concert
, Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn.  We will be performing in The Minster Church in Warminster.  We are hoping to secure Phillip Guy Bromley as baritone soloist for the role of Elijah.  Many of you will remember Phillip from our previous concert in June 2010 when he presented a dramatic portrayal of the character Elijah which held us spell bound.  This will be our last concert under the baton of Edward and in addition to what is bound to be a memorable concert, we see it as a celebration of all the previous years that have led to this point.

Sunday 3rd June 2018 at 12 noon
40th Anniversary Picnic
.  This will be held at Codford Village Hall, hopefully outside, but we do have a refuge in case of inclement weather.  We hope that as many members, conductors, friends past and present will join us to renew contacts and reminisce over happy times had.  There will be a display of photographs, programmes, press articles and other memorabilia.


Our next concert: Elijah.  See the Members Page for links to listen to the music. 


Christmas Celebration by candlelight.

Concert Review by Alan Burgess


The Minster was packed for The Athenaeum Singers’  Christmas concert last Saturday night. Edward-Rhys Harry had chosen a varied and demanding programme, a mix of old favourites and some less familiar works.

The music in the first half was demanding for the Choir. Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols has extended passages of distant humming in the opening section, especially difficult if there has been no opportunity to warm the voice, maybe with a wholesome carol. At times the pitch wavered but the arrival of ‘all you worthy gentlemen’ allowed hearts and voices to open out and the piece grew with increasing conviction. Lauridson’s ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ demands an approach like the opening of the Vaughan Williams with quiet sustained singing and though the pitch occasionally wavered, the Singers were effective in conveying a sense of hushed mystery, especially in the closing section.

Between these two pieces was the rarely performed Oratorio de Noel by Saint Saens. The Singers relished the stronger impassioned sections, particularly in the middle movement: here they sang with assured confidence and throughout the piece the tenors, who were significantly outnumbered, held their own exceptionally well. Indeed some of the tenor and bass lines in this piece were very strong but might have been stronger still had they been raised up a little as all the Choir was on floor level.

The Singers had engaged four young up and coming soloists who were joined, near the end of the Saint Saens, by Clare Bayman (soprano) from the Choir: she showed great poise and musicianship and was very much their equal.

Osian Wynn Bowen’s fruity tenor voice was exceedingly well suited to the operatic style of the Saint Saens and he delivered both text and music with aplomb. Later, in the Christmas music from Messiah, we heard Emily Wenman (soprano) deliver the music about the shepherds with an impeccably pure innocence, Stephanie Wake-Edwards (mezzo soprano), who has a remarkable rich lower register, impressed with a beautifully controlled ‘O Thou that tellest’ and Michael Ronan (baritone) who had earlier communicated the Vaughan Williams solos with real warmth demonstrated an aptly sombre tone in a well voiced ‘For behold, darkness shall cover the earth.’

The Athenaeum Singers presented a light and bright Messiah. It had a joyful spring in its step and the texture had great clarity, nowhere more so than in their singing of ‘And the glory of the Lord’. It was great that the Choir never forced the sound and at times their singing was even playful, with a zest for life. Maybe ‘For unto us a child is born’ could have had even tighter dotted rhythms and there was the perennial issue of exactly where to place the ‘s’ but the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ was delivered with precision and ‘Worthy is the Lamb’ was a fitting climax to a great evening of music making.

In concerts such as this, orchestras can be the bane of singers’ lives and the evening can develop into warfare on a grand scale as choir and orchestra each tries to make itself heard. Therefore the Singers must have enjoyed being accompanied by Simon Dinsdale on the organ. If a concert is to have a hero you would be hard pressed to find better as he was a master craftsman and made the instrument sing in a way I find hard to recall in the thirty years or so I have known the Minster. He adapted wonderfully well to the variety of musical styles and I froze when, at the end of ‘Glory to God’, by some miracle, he made the angels vanish into thin air above the plains of Bethlehem.

Alan Burgess




























































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