Workshop - Come and Sing Dido & Aeneas

Join us on Saturday 24th September 2022 for a "Sing in a Day" workshop with Peter Allwood, as we learn Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas"

With wide-ranging experience as a music teacher and head teacher, Peter Allwood is now a freelance conductor, composer, musical director, workshop leader, adjudicator and accompanist, with a particular passion for choral direction.   Although he has recently relinquished many of his permanent roles as a conductor,  he continues to direct the Chantry Quire in Sussex, and is an occasional guest with other choirs and orchestras.

His penultimate teaching post was as Head of Music at Christ’s Hospital school when he was also Musical Director of Christ’s Hospital Choral Society.  He is remembered with great affection by our more long standing members who know him to be a brilliant, encouraging and hugely enthusiastic choral Director, and one who achieves great results with his choirs.

He has performed in and produced Dido and Aeneas on several occasions, and suggested it as an ideal subject for a day’s learning and singing.  Anyone who has sung with him before will know that this workshop will not only be a huge treat for us all, but also a lot of fun.  He couldn’t do it any other way!

Peter Allwood

Purcell's "Dido & Aeneas"

Dido & Aeneas is the first opera written in the English language, and Purcell’s first work written to be sung throughout.  Based on the fourth book of Virgil’s Aenead the opera presents the tragic story of Dido, doomed Queen of Carthage, and her Trojan warrior lover, Aeneas.  

Dido falls in love with Aeneas whilst offering him safe harbour on his journey home. A Sorceress, who hates Dido, plots to separate them by creating a storm and sending one of her servants, disguised as Mercury, to urge Aeneas to return home straight away, forsaking Dido. Aeneas readies his sailors and lets Dido know he must leave. Dido cannot bear losing him and kills herself, after singing one of the most famous English arias, Dido’s Lament (“When I am laid in earth”). In true Baroque style, the action is delivered in short recitative sections interspersed with songs, choruses, and dances.

The opera was first performed in 1687 at Josias Priest’s Boarding School for Girls in Chelsea, performed by the pupils, and is thus an ideal work for a workshop such as ours.

There are plenty of online versions of the opera, both music and video so if you don’t know this old and famous work check it out.  You will certainly know "When I am laid in earth", sometimes known as "Dido's Lament", one of the saddest and most beautiful arias ever written.  The music is timeless and there is tremendous fun and enjoyment to be had from it.  You can be certain that Peter Allwood will be bringing out the best from this music, and in our performance.

The Workshop

If you sign up as a chorus singer the purpose of your day is to learn and rehearse the fifteen relatively short choruses from Dido & Aeneas, with hints and tips on singing technique as we progress.  

We have invited various soloists to join us and a quintet of string players from Horsham Symphony Orchestra will play the during the day. They will rehearse separately to begin with but as the day progresses will join with the chorus.

At the end of the day you will take part in a run through of the complete opera with the instrumentalists and soloists.  

The run-through will be, we hope, a complete performance, with soloists and instrumentalists, albeit unpolished and unstaged - so no acting skills needed!  Maybe we will need some stops and starts, but that is part of the learning process.  However well the run through goes it will be a marvellous occasion,  fabulous to be a part of and a rare opportunity to see how much can be achieved in a day by a select group  of musicians and singers under superlative musical direction.

Our own Musical Director, Ruaraidh Sutherland, organist at Christ’s Hospital, will be our accompanist for the day and will play continuo for the run-through.

Provisional timings are:
Registration - 10.00 a.m. for 10.30 start
12.30 to 13.00 - Short lunch break
13.00 to 15.00 - Continued rehearsal
15.30 to 16.30 - Run through

Book your place

Time, Date & Place :-   

10.00 a.m. Saturday 24th September 2022 
Big School, Christ's Hospital, Horsham

Tickets are £20 each, with a reduction for members of Christ’s Hospital Choral Society.  

A copy of the music will be loaned to you on the day for return at the end.  We will be using the Novello English edition but if you already have a copy please do bring it, regardless of the edition.

Secure your place by ordering and paying for tickets >>  BOOK TICKETS

Pay with a payment card via the secure PayPal payment system - no PayPal account is necessary.

You will be asked to give your voice part and we have to reserve the right to close orders to certain voice parts if it appears that the chorus will be unbalanced. For the same reason tickets will not be available on the door.

You will not be expected to have sung this work before, nor even to know the music, but you would be well advised to listen to it before the workshop if you can.  It would be better still if you were able to look at some of the learning resources that we list   >> HERE

Further and full details will be regularly added to this website and advised by email to those who have booked a place.