Our "Come and Sing" Purcell's Dido & Aeneas day on Saturday 24th September was a huge success.  About 100 singers from Sussex and further afield joined forces with with many of our own members to form a choir that learned the opera's choruses in the morning and early afternoon under the direction of Peter Allwood and with Ruaraidh Sutherland as accompanist.  Later in the day we were joined by four soloists and a string quintet, and after a quick top and tail session where we rehearsed some of the trickier joins we held a complete run-through of the whole work.  We even had a small audience of friends and relations to appreciate our combined efforts!

Our thanks go to our fabulous soloists, Sarah Russell as Dido, Sandra Janman as Belinda, Jo Browse as the Sorceress and Simon Raworth as Aeneas - and all of them doubled up to sing other solo parts as well.  Our string quintet, members of the Horsham Symphony Orchestra, were Rachel Ellis (Leader), Christine Elvin, Louisa Orton, Kay Tucker and Neil Pye to all of whom we say a big thank you.  Their contributions and the wonderful musicianship of Ruaraidh Sutherland, our own Director of Music, accompanying us on piano for our rehearsals and then playing continuo with the quintet later, all ensured a performance of a standard we could never otherwise have achieved in such a short space of time.

The biggest thanks though must go to Peter Allwood whose skilful, enthusiastic and inspirational direction ensured that all choruses were learned in the day, but who also assembled the soloists and string quintet, and then brought it all together at the end.  Apart from leading the day he made it all the more interesting by explaining and discussing Purcell's writing of the opera and its place in British history and the English musical canon. 

Afterwards there were many compliments from our singers who thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as well as a sense of achievement at having sung through the whole of this wonderful opera learned by the chorus in just one day.


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