25 years for Keswick Hall Choir conductor

TONY COOPER Keswick Hall Choir, one of Norfolk's leading and most enterprising, marks a milestone in its illustrious history this year with choral drill sergeant John Aplin chalking up 25 years as conductor.

TONY COOPER

Keswick Hall Choir, one of Norfolk's leading and most enterprising, marks a milestone in its illustrious history this year with choral drill sergeant John Aplin chalking up 25 years as conductor.

To celebrate the occasion, a CD of choral music, The Shining Road, (recorded in Norwich Cathedral) has just been released. And to celebrate the launch of it, and to mark Aplin's quarter century, the choir is presenting a concert at Norwich Cathedral this Saturday, February 24 (7.30pm) with a programme including John Tavener's Mother and Child, Arvo Pärt's The Beatitudes, Herbert Howells' Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing, Kenneth Leighton's Crucifixus Pro Nobis and Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna.

The choir has been established in Norwich for more than 35 years and enjoys an excellent reputation for its performances. It began life at Keswick Hall (then the local teacher training college) and was established by the late Geoffrey Laycock in 1969. His widow, Audrey, is still a member of the choir. It was inaugurated by an amalgamation of the college's choral society and madrigal choir and was formed with a remit to fill a niche in the area for performing the non-standard choral repertoire.


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Its membership then comprised students, former students, staff and friends. However, following the college's absorption into the University of East Anglia in 1981, it developed an independent existence under its present musical director, who was a graduate of UEA.

Born in London, Aplin has spent the last 30 years of his life in Norwich. He studied singing under John Carol Case and Ian Partridge while at the same time gaining two music degrees from UEA and he's widely known in Norfolk as both a singing teacher and a choral conductor, having directed UEA Choir and the Norfolk and Norwich Festival Chorus in recent years and been at the helm of Keswick Hall Choir since 1982.

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Under his direction it has gone from strength to strength and has worked with Kiri Te Kanawa, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Brook Street Band and the Gabrielli Consort.

Over these years, Keswick has attracted the most accomplished and experienced amateur choral singers in Norfolk and established a fine reputation for its performances of a challenging repertoire spanning five centuries.

The performance of the more unusual repertoire - both Renaissance and contemporary, much of it a cappella - forms an important part of its programming. And it is that repertoire which is represented on the CD.

For some of the works the choir is joined by the cathedral's organist and master of music, David Dunnett, and by local percussionist, Andy Newman.

Dunnett, in fact, has a guest spot in Saturday's concert. He'll be playing an organ solo of Rubrics by Dan Locklair, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina.

His music is widely performed throughout the world and his output includes symphonic works, a ballet and an opera as well as solo, chamber, vocal and choral compositions.

Tickets £12 to £7 (accompanied children £2) from Prelude Records, St Giles' Street, 01603 628319 or visit www.keswickhallchoir.org.uk

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