Who’s who at The Kingdom seminar

In anticipation of our forthcoming seminar on Elgar’s The Kingdom – organised with Three Spires Singers and to be held Saturday, February 8th, 9.15am-1pm, at Truro School Chapel – we include here some information on the day’s programme and protagonists. It’s an event designed to enhance enjoyment of our joint concert of the oratorio for choir and audience members alike. All are welcome to attend, but places are limited…


Martin Palmer

Martin PalmerMartin has been Director of Music of Truro Choral Society since 2009. He studied the organ, cello, composition and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and took the University of London degree. While at the RAM he sang with the London Philharmonic Choir, gaining invaluable experience working alongside many of the world’s top conductors, orchestras and soloists. He is also the Director of Music at Truro School, where he has built up one of the biggest and busiest music departments in the southwest.

He will lead the singing of some illustrative excerpts from The Apostles and The Kingdom.

Nicholas Hawker

Nicholas Hawker

Nicholas began his musical education as a chorister at St Alphege, Solihull. He later read music at Birmingham University, eventually winning a postgraduate scholarship to complete an MPhil thesis on the music of Edward Elgar. Since then he has edited manuscripts that have now been published by The Elgar Society. In 2003 Nicholas moved to Truro to take up a choral scholarship with Truro Cathedral Choir, with which he has toured throughout Europe, made numerous recordings on the Regent and Lammas record labels and appeared as a soloist on BBC radio and television.

He is now in demand as a soloist throughout the southwest, where recent concert appearances have included, amongst others, Mozart Requiem, Handel Messiah, Judas Maccabeus, Samson, Dixit Dominus, Durufle Requiem, Schubert Mass in E Flat, Bach Magnificat, St John Passion (Evangelist and arias), Monteverdi Vespers, Stainer Crucifixion, Haydn Paukenmesse, Beethoven Mass in C, Britten St Nicolas and David Briggs A Cornish Cantata. Recent song cycle performances include Schumann Dicterliebe and Britten Winter Words. Among his forthcoming engagements in early 2014 are Bach St Matthew Passion (Evangelist) and Vaughan Williams On Wenlock Edge.

In opera Nicholas has appeared with Birmingham Festival Opera in Shostakovich Moskva Cheremushki and with Duchy Opera in Puccini Madame Butterfly, Mozart The Magic Flute and the premiere of Paul Drayton’s The Hanging Oak. He currently studies with Annabella Waite. Nicholas is Deputy Head and Director of Music at Polwhele House School, the choir school for Truro Cathedral.

Nicholas’s talk will explore Elgar’s long-held ambition to write a work based on the New Testament and study the extent to which this was fulfilled in his oratorios The Apostles and The Kingdom. Using information from manuscripts housed at the British Library it will track Elgar’s compositional process and consider how, had the original plan for The Apostles been realised, The Kingdom may never have been composed. It will also examine the strong thematic links between the two works, consider Elgar’s use of leitmotif and reveal his use of plainsong chant.

Michael Swift

Michael Swift

Besides his day job as Stained Glass Adviser to the Diocese of Truro and Truro Cathedral, Michael has been much in demand as a lecturer throughout the southwest for over 10 years. He has been running a series of highly popular adult-education courses in Truro for the past six years on Victorian and Edwardian culture. These courses have included a strong musical component, along with reference to the literature, art and architecture of the period. He has completed postgraduate research on Victorian composers and music festivals, and is passionate about English composers of this period. He sang in choirs for over three decades.

Michael will explore the place of The Apostles and The Kingdom in Edwardian choral music. It will set the works within the context of the tradition of English Victorian and Edwardian Triennial music festivals. In comparison with selected choral works by other contemporary composers, it will suggest that, in its form and content, The Kingdom marked a glorious end to that tradition.

For downloadable versions of the application form and information leaflet for this event, please follow the below links:
Application form
Kingdom Seminar Leaflet Feb14

Helping Cornwall’s Hospices

Last December, Truro Choral Society joined forces with St Keverne Band once again to perform a Christmas concert at Falmouth Methodist Church in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care. The choir’s programme included traditional carols, as well as a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols, conducted by Martin Palmer. Along with the band’s highly entertaining choice of music, including a technically dazzling delivery of Vitae Aeternum for their finale, the concert was an excellent start to Christmas festivities – and more importantly raised the incredible amount of £1,616 for a very worthy cause.

The work of Cornwall Hospice Care is devoted to providing clinical care and support to people living with life-limiting illnesses in Cornwall. The help their hospices provide is free, but their running costs tally up to £14 a minute, and with government funding only covering 15% of these costs, every penny raised during events like these is very gratefully received and immediately put to extremely good use. For more information on this charity’s work, visit www.cornwallhospicecare.co.uk.

St Keverne Band have long had links with this fundraiser and we were delighted to have been invited to take part again. Under the musical direction of Gareth Churcher, the band’s repertoire and reputation continue to grow, seeing them regularly winning awards both regionally and nationally. Last October they came first in their section of the Cornwall Brass Band Association Championships, and we wish them continued success in their forthcoming competitions in 2014.

Five-star Messiah

After the weeks of intense preparation for our cathedral concert of Handel’s Messiah at the end of last November, we were pleased to see the positive write-up that was published in the West Briton, 12th December, 2013. You can read it here.

And here is how our sell-out Messiah sounded in 2011.


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Our superb soloists and Music Director: from left, Nick Hawker, Tim Carleston, Cheryl Rosevear, Charlie Murray and Martin Palmer

Collection for ShelterBox

The retiring collection held for the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox at the end of our performance of Messiah on Saturday, 30th November, raised £1,117. This amount is enough to pay for almost two complete boxes (average cost of a box, including delivery, is £590) or six new tents. Thanks go to our very generous audience and choir members.

ShelterBox’s response teams have been tirelessly working to help families since the very first days after the Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, but figures are showing that more than 13 million people have been affected by the storm so far, and over 4 million people have been forced from their homes. In addition, donations like this will be going towards providing essential aid to families affected by continuing crises elsewhere, including in Syria and Sudan. This is especially urgent as the colder months approach, for which ShelterBox is sending out winterised shelter solutions. For more information on all the charity’s work, visit www.shelterbox.org.

Christmas concert at Eden

Our performance will be held in the Mediterranean biome on Sunday, 8th December, at 1pm. More details, including time for choir members to assemble, to follow. Eden is a special place to visit any time of the year, so please encourage friends and family to come and listen to what will be a lovely addition to our Christmas programme in a magical setting.

Cathedral Newsletter

Baroque of ages: Messiah

Truro Choral Society last performed Handel’s Messiah in the cathedral in 2011. Just like the oratorio’s premiere in Dublin in 1742, it was a sold-out event, and had an eager audience queuing out into the street on a suitably wintry night. Seating was extended up behind the choir and some were even prepared to listen out of sight in the cathedral choir stalls. One who attended was prompted to write to the West Briton afterwards to say, “the whole performance was delivered with perfection”.

What can the audience expect this year? Already the choir is swelling in numbers in anticipation, and as part of the society’s mission to give everyone the opportunity to sing good choral music, especially in the glorious setting of the cathedral, students from local schools have again been invited to take part. We will be accompanied by Truro Symphony Orchestra and four gifted young soloists who have firm Cornish connections. Former BBC Choirgirl of the Year and Royal College of Music alumna Cheryl Rosevear is returning as soprano, while Nicholas Hawker will perform with us again as tenor. Nicholas, formerly a scholar of Truro Cathedral Choir, fits in deputy headship and his position of Director of Music at Polwhele House School with numerous soloist engagements throughout the southwest. Tim Carleston will join us both as countertenor and natural trumpeter; another RCM graduate, Tim has sung with Windsor Castle’s Close Harmony group, Truro Cathedral’s St Mary’s Singers, Three Spires Singers and the Duchy Opera. Truro Cathedral bass Charlie Murray completes our quartet. He has been the recipient of choral scholarships from Truro Cathedral and York Minster, and is a former member of the National Youth Choir.

So, the choir’s excitement is growing, our relentlessly energetic and enthusiastic Music Director, Martin Palmer, is already repeating his mantra of “More text!”, and our stage manager is arranging seating in his every waking thought. Also in our thoughts is Cherry Sheppard, a key member of the Society and friend to many who died suddenly during the summer. This concert will be dedicated to her memory.

We’re hoping for another sell-out performance of course, but if only to be able to share the splendour and majesty of this masterpiece with as many people as possible. Two hundred and seventy years after its composition, it seems Handel’s Messiah shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah indeed.