James conducts 160 singing Messiah

James conducts 160 singing Messiah

How long does it take to organise 160 singers (from umpteen choirs across the country and beyond): registering, giving out scores, settling them in four or five parts ready to sing? Not very long if the forward planning has been done as well as the SMSG Organ Group did this – we had time for a cuppa and welcome, and all ready to start at 10.00am.

The day was extremely well organised and flashed past in a very enjoyable fashion. Some were new to the work, and some had sung it many times before, but I’m sure everyone found some little corners of Messiah they weren’t as familiar with as they thought they were! Learning (or revising) ten choruses was always going to be demanding, but fuelled with a delicious variety of cakes, and lots of hot drinks, we were able to concentrate on following our lively and entertaining conductor. Many thanks to James, and to our accompanist Ed, for their preparation and skilled work keeping us all on board. Of course, James had a few changes of tempo, and extended pauses, to put his own slant on a very well-known composition (Keep awake!)

At lunchtime, some people visited local hostelries, and a few meandered down to the river, while others took the chance to catch up with old friends in the relaxed atmosphere of church and hall. More singing after lunch, and soon it was time for the “nuts and bolts”, a last run-through of joins and corners, and then the audience was arriving and sitting all round the outside of the singers - a kind of inverted surround sound!

Huge thanks to all involved for their hard work: lots of admin and practical work in advance and on the day, front of house welcome and refreshments teams, setting up and clearing away, soloists, and especially to our accompanist Ed Tomlinson and conductor James Wharton.

A grand day out! Thank you.

Jenny Rowlson


This Music for all @ SMSG event raised £2,744 towards missing pipes and casework for the Willis Pipe organ.

Photos of the event (by Ray Rowlson) can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157649059362280/