gerontius newsletter - October 2011

Dear choral music lover,

We hope there's something for everyone in this newsletter, including suggestions from Rayburn Tours on how to organise a choir tour and and from Chorum Records on how to get your choir recorded. With Christmas approaching we have news on how your choir can sing carols to help Christian Aid, and we also have ideas for Christmas gifts: new CDs from the Sixteen including a special gerontius discount code, and music software from Capella Software. We're also pleased to bring news of a mega messiah in Cardiff, courses for choral leaders run by the ABCD, and a new music hire library from Making music.

Our featured choir this newsletter is the Harrow Apollo Male Choir. Please let us know if you would like us to feature your choir in a future newsletter.

Please feel free to send this newsletter on to other members of your choir and to friends.

Newsletter contents
1. Looking forward to the 2012 Choir Tour season with Rayburn Tours
2. Chorum Records - Recording your choir
3. Software Partners (Capella Software) - Professional Music Software at a Reasonable Price.
4. Featured choir: Harrow Apollo Male Choir
5. The 10th Anniversary of CORO (The Sixteen's Record label) - 20% discount!
6. Singers perform Messiah en masse in Cardiff
7. Christian Aid's Big Christmas Sing
8. The Association of British Choral Directors - Upcoming Events
9. New Music Hire library from Making Music - the Kirby Collection
10. Gerontius Site Sponsors
11. Next gerontius newsletter - December

Looking forward to the 2012 Choir Tour season with Rayburn Tours

St Johns choir image

2011 has been fantastic for touring choirs with Musical Directors raving about the positive impact of the tour on their choir. As Margaret Haynes from Bracknell Choral Society said upon returning from Tuscany: 'The tour achieved long-lasting results in bonding the choir members who took part', and we think this is exactly what a Choir Tour should do.

We've had other great feedback from our tours this year. The Brixi Singers described their performance at Notre Dame as 'the experience of a lifetime'; Billingshurst Choral Society shared their excitement on discovering that one of their Prague venues had 'invited local TV crews to film the concert for local news!' and St John's Church Choir summed up not only theirs, but many other choirs' tours with: 'a great success, both musically and socially'.

The UK has also been popular for groups this year, including South African, Roedean Girls' School Choir who, as part of their mammoth 16 day tour, performed in many prestigious venues, wowing audiences across the country. Their Tour Coordinator, Emily Thorp, was lucky enough to watch their performance at Derby Cathedral: 'The group gave the audience a real flavour of their homeland and the love they have for their country. The programme was punctuated with the beat of an African drum, which brought the venue alive and evoked the sounds and rhythms of the continent.' Read Emily's full report.

Looking forward to summer 2012, wherever you and your choir want to perform, our Concert Tours team can make it happen, visit our website or contact us to start planning your 2012 Choir Tour.

Chorum Records - Recording your choir

Chorum Records choir shot
Chorum equipments

Has your choir considered making a recording? Is it difficult to know which company is good, reasonably priced and will treat you and your repertoire sympathetically? Chorum Records could be the answer.

Good ears, good engineering skills and a love of choral music led Steve Swinden to establish Chorum Records as "a musical service, not just another recording company".

Chamber choirs, choral societies, male voice choirs, ladies' choirs, youth choirs, massed choirs, festivals - Chorum will not just record you but work with you and your conductor to bring out your very best sound and capture it on CD.

Email or visit to find out more.

Meanwhile, here's what some choirs think:

"Steve's technical and musical professionalism have resulted in a 27-track CD to be proud of."
(Ladies' Choir)

"Thank you again for all your patience and professionalism during the recording process. The choir I know has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and increased musical awareness as a result..."
(Choral Society)

"...thank you very much indeed for the excellent product you've given [the] Choir: it's already garnering highly enthusiastic responses..."
(Chamber Choir)

"Thanks so much for your personal attention at all times and for your interest and direction."
(Male Voice Choir)

"The recording made in Hereford Cathedral of the massed choirs and orchestra was exceptional. The detail and clarity is an absolute joy, and the way in which care was taken to take advantage of the building's acoustic qualities really enhanced the production. The CD is lasting memory of a quality concert, enhanced by the professionalism of the Chorum team."
(Massed Choirs in Concert)

"[Steve Swinden is] an excellent engineer with top-flight kit. He engineered the last two...CDs that were recorded...and managed to get a very good sound from a so-so hall."

Software Partners (Capella Software) - Professional Music Software at a Reasonable Price.

Capella software
Capella menus

The capella suite of programs can open up the world of music that is freely available on the internet to your choir.

There is a lot of beautiful music which is freely available and capella can make this practical and enjoyable to work with. The alternative (buying or hiring sheet music) is easy, but expensive and sometimes not flexible enough.

The additional capella programs provide extra help to make the vast wealth of music out there on the internet easy to access and to tailor to your choir.

The main capella program does all the things you would expect from a notation program: rearranges the physical layout of the score to get page turns in convenient places, transposes, extracts parts, lets you revise the music to your heart's content.

The capella-scan module converts PDF copies of scores or printed scores into the format that can be used by capella and other music programs (via MusicXML). It typically takes about half a minute per page to convert everything: notes, dynamic symbols, lyrics and all other text.

We believe tonica Fugata is unique. It creates 4 part harmony from any melody you give it. The final composition is not just technically correct, but musically satisfactory. The software uses artificial intelligence to harmonize in the styles of specific composers and it can learn any style. In addition it can take a musical theme and create a full length canon or fugue. It saves many hours.

The last stage in this journey is made with capella playAlong. playAlong converts your work to an MP3 file or an audio CD. Now you can produce practice material with parts missing, metronome ticks and pitching notes etc. MP3s are ideal for emailing to choir members or posting on the choir website.

You can download trial versions from our site, email us, or phone us on 01926842998.

Featured choir: Harrow Apollo Male Choir

Harrow Apollo photo

In 1941 during the dark days of the Second World War eight engineers at the De Havilland Aircraft Factory in Edgware in north west London decided the only way to improve factory morale was to sing. They formed a choir with the motto "We serve with Song" and seventy years later after several name changes the choir now called The Harrow Apollo Male Choir is still upholding that tradition. In its first fifty years the choir appeared at venues as diverse as Arsenal Football Stadium, The Royal Albert Hall , Wormwood Scrubs Prison and Cologne Cathedral as they sang from their wide musical repertoire to varied audiences.

About twenty years ago they moved to their current home at the Harrow Arts Centre a convenient base for their 45 singing members who are drawn from the north west London area. The driving musical forces behind the choir are David Heasman its musical director since 1973 and its principal accompanist for over 40 years Philomena Macrae. They are in charge of the 15 or so performances which the choir undertakes each year both at home and abroad usually supporting registered charities.

The highlights of their anniversary celebrations so far have been the April concert with the renowned Central Band of the RAF and their September concert entitled "70 Years of Singing" with the City of Chester Male Voice Choir in Chester Cathedral. The choir is looking forward to next concert in Pinner Parish Church which features Macagni's Easter Hymn specially arranged by Owain Arwel Hughes, a noted Harrow resident.

The 10th Anniversary of CORO (The Sixteen's Record Label)

The Sixteen
The Sixteen image 2


This year Harry Christophers and his award-winning ensemble The Sixteen celebrate 10 years of their lively and successful record label CORO. To mark the anniversary, they are offering members of Gerontius a 20% discount on all CDs in the CORO catalogue.

In 10 years the CORO recording label has become synonymous with the success of The Sixteen and Harry Christophers, and now boasts a catalogue of nearly 100 releases including some of the most magnificent choral works ever written such as Handel's Messiah, Allegri's Miserere, Faure's Requiem and Tallis's Spem in Alium.

2011 also saw the launch of the group's new download site which features a selection of The Sixteen's best selling CDs and the 20% discount also applies to albums downloaded from the new site.

To obtain your 20% discount simply visit (for CDs) or (for downloads) and enter 'GERONTIUS' in to the discount code box.

Do look out for all the latest releases on CORO including the premiere recording of James MacMillan's Miserere, Mozart's Requiem and the latest DVD from the Sacred Music series - A Christmas History. Click on the links below to find out more about our new titles:

Great British Choral Works
Mozart's Requiem
J.S. Bach's Trio Sonatas for Organ
Sacred Music - A Christmas History
James MacMillan's Miserere (premiere recording)

Singers perform Messiah en masse in Cardiff

Singers from far and wide are dusting off their scores of the world's favourite choral piece and signing up to take part in a performance of Messiah which is really Mega, as we are hoping for 1000 singers to form the Mega Messiah Choir, along with an orchestra and soloists from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

On Sunday 6 November, inspirational conductor David Lawrence will lead one intensive rehearsal before the performance starts at 6pm. There will be a non-singing audience at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, so we all want the performance to be as good as possible as well as a lot of fun!

Currently leading in the race for tickets is the alto section, closely followed by the sopranos. Quite a way behind them are male singers - especially tenors, as usual! So, whilst all singers are welcome, we're particularly keen for more men to sign up.

Tickets can be booked via the Centre box office at (tel: 029 2063 6464) where the running order and full information about the event are available. They cost £15 for singers, or £12 if you book 10 or more (group bookings by phone or in person only). Audience tickets for the performance are £10.

Mega Messiah proceeds benefit Fairbridge Cymru, part of The Prince's Trust ( who work with disengaged young people to bring them back into society, and Wales Millennium Centre's Learning and Participation projects (, bringing arts activity to thousands of people around Wales.

Christian Aid's Big Christmas Sing

Christian Aid's Big Christmas Sing - 9-11 December 2011

With one voice against poverty.

Thousands of voices across the country will be singing together as part of Christian Aid's Big Christmas Sing 2011. As you start to think about your Christmas concerts, please consider holding a Big Christmas Sing, and help put an end to poverty. You could turn your Christmas carol service into a Big Christmas Sing. Or why not encourage students at the local school to sing Christmas songs in their last music lesson of the winter term? Alternatively, how about a staff Christmas karaoke night?!

Being part of The Big Christmas Sing couldn't be easier! All you need to do is order your free fundraising pack. It's jam-packed with fundraising know-how, posters and balloons, plus access to downloadable song sheets. You can register for your free Big Christmas Sing fundraising pack by completing and returning the form below or by visiting

Christian Aid is aiming to get as many people as possible across the UK involved in The Big Christmas Sing between the 9 - 11 December, raising over £150,000 to help some of the world's poorest people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Thank you for your support!

Vicki Simpson
Events Fundraising Officer - Central England

The Association of British Choral Directors - Upcoming Events

The Association of British Choral Directors (abcd) run a national training programme to support the development for singing leaders working at all levels. The various day events and courses are designed to develop the individual. Highly experienced tutors work with your natural abilities and previous experience to enable you to develop your own gesture vocabulary and rehearsal technique. As the training is non prescriptive in approach, with an emphasis on a supportive and encouraging environment, it will develop confidence and practical skills which can be used by those leading singing of any kind, regardless of age group, music genre or experience of singers. The Intermediate Level course is accredited by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and is accepted as a substitute for the DipABRSM (Music Direction) which allows students who have successfully completed the course to proceed to the LRSM (Music Direction).

In 2011 and 2012 there will be a number of courses running at Initial, Intermediate and Advanced level in London, Derby and Birmingham.
Initial Conducting Course
Birmingham dates: Saturdays 28 January, 3 & 24 March, 21 of April
London dates: Saturdays 17 March, 28 April, 26 May, 23 June

Intermediate Conducting Course Derby dates: 28 & 29 Jan, 25 Feb, 24 March, 28 April, 16 June, 14 & 15 July
London dates: 21 & 22 April, 20 May, 17 June, 8 July, 16 Sept,13 & 14 Oct

Advanced Conducting Course pilot days London: Saturday 12 November. 2012 dates and venues to be confirmed.

More details can be found at

Events are also produced both nationally and regionally with the following events coming up throughout winter and spring:
The Armed Man with Brian Kay, Saturday 12th November, Huddersfield.
North West Honour Choir with Bob Chilcott, Saturday 4th February, 21 April, Saturday 7th July, Preston.
Joint education singing workshops and training sessions plus evening concert, abcd Midlands in partnership with Federation of Music Services West Midlands and Sing Up, Monday 27 February, Birmingham.
Midlands Repertoire Roadshow Day for Conductors and Singers, Saturday 10 March , Tamworth.
Further details of all forthcoming events can be found at

New Music Hire library from Making Music - the Kirby Collection

An extensive new collection of printed choral music and accompanying orchestral sets is now available for hire by choirs in Surrey and beyond. The extensive collection of music has been created thanks to a generous legacy of £135,000 from Making Music's first Chairman Alan Kirby, who was a leading figure in choral singing in Surrey in the mid-20th century. He and his wife Ethel were keen to ensure the continued success of choral singing in Surrey and the Making Music Board decided in 2009 to use their legacy to purchase a collection of printed music. This is now kept at the Surrey Performing Arts Library for the use of choirs in Surrey and the rest of the UK.

The scores are available on a first-call system to choirs in Surrey who belong to the library, and can be booked up to six months in advance in person, by email, or via an online form. Choirs from further afield can ask their local library to borrow them from Surrey via the interlibrary loan service too.

A full list of the scores available to hire as part of the collection can be found on the Making Music Kirby Collection page.

Gerontius Site Sponsors

Many thanks to the following:


Chameleon Arts Orchestras and soloists

Rayburn Tours

Note Perfect

School Travel - Music & Concert groups - Travelbound

Chorum Records - Choral recordings

Chameleon Wedding Music

Alberon - web design

Next gerontius newsletter - December

The next gerontius newsletter will be sent in December. If you have an item you would like to include, please let us know as soon as possible so we can reserve you a space.

For further details and previous newsletters please see:

We always welcome feedback about the site.

Please feel free to send this newsletter on to other members of your choir and to friends.

If you are not receiving your own copy of this newsletter and would like to in future, please visit this page. On the right hand side you can subscribe to the Gerontius Newsletter.

If you would prefer not to receive future newsletters, please reply to this message with subject "no news". You can also opt not to receive the newsletter by changing the option in your choir details screen on the site.

best wishes
Tim Ault

Gerontius website

This email was sent to {{email}}.   Our Ref: {{our_ref}}