In October 2016 The Lea Singers chose Tori Longdon as their twelfth conductor.
Tori holds an MA in Choral Conducting with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music, where she was also awarded the Thomas Armstrong prize for the highest mark in a final recital.
She conducts two other London based chamber choirs, The Hanover Choir and The Templar Scholars, as well as the Hertfordshire County Youth Choir and the High Wycombe Youth Choir.
A word from our conductor:
I’m delighted to be working with the Lea Singers, a committed and passionate group of singers with a strong reputation for music making in Harpenden. Plans are already afoot to take us up to our 60th Anniversary Gala Concert in 2020, and also to develop the artistic ethos of the choir to reflect their zest for performance, and their commitment to authenticity.
The single greatest gift which a choir possesses and which an orchestra does not is the gift of text. As singers we have total control of this wonderfully expressive tool, but with that comes the responsibility to realise its full potential, by delivering it in such a way that the audience doesn’t just listen, but hears and understands.
Too often in choral music the skill of performance is overlooked in the quest for accuracy, but the Leas’ arresting performance of the Matthew Passion in 2016 has already shown their forward thinking attitude to presenting choral music and engaging with their audiences. Over the next few years we’ll be building on this; looking at how we perform when singing different genres of music in order to enhance the meaning of the texts we sing.
The Creation is a perfect place to start this journey, since the text of the work is an historically complex issue. The original English text (which was passed to Haydn by his London impresario after Handel turned it down) is now lost, and Haydn had the text translated into German in order to set it to music. However, he always intended the work to be performed in English in London, and so the text had to undergo a further translation in order to be performed. The English version which survives is full of grammatical errors and nonsensical syntax, and is the primary challenge for any group attempting to present the work in English.
The new edition by Paul McCreesh is an attempt to combat these translation errors and to provide a more transparent version of the text. The Lea Singers have been given express permission to perform this new edition, which offers exciting new opportunities to communicate the true vibrancy of Haydn’s masterpiece.
We hope to continue to provide you with fresh perspectives of well known works, and to introduce you to new works which may, in time, become favourites.
I hope to see you at a concert very soon.
Previous and Guest Conductors:
Ben took over as conductor of the Lea Singers in 2012, while he was still studying at Hertford College, Oxford. He immediately took us in hand to develop our sound to be richer and fuller. He inspired us to take on projects that very few amateur choirs would do, for example a performance of St. Matthew Passion, semi-staged and “off book”. Under his leadership we grew more confident as a choir, and as individuals. Ben is fulfilling a lifetime dream by becoming assistant conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, he is also musical director of the award-winning Bath Camerata and chorus master at Dorset Opera Festival. In 2017 he made his debut as chorus master at the Netherlands Reisopera.
We were lucky that Joanna was able to join us for a project in January 2017, one which was for many of us was a departure from our usual choral repertoire. For our Spring Swing, we really did learn to swing from an expert. We were amazed at the immediate difference Joanna made to our confidence singing jazz. It was lovely to listen to her sing to demonstrate the sound she wanted from us, accompanied by husband Alexander on piano. We performed many favourites from the “pink book” and Alexander L’Estrange’s Vive la Velorution as part of our concert, with a children’s choir part written specially for the choirs of Beechwood Park School. A world premiere, no less!
Tim joined us for FestiveLea, our annual Christmas festive evening of uplifting carols, mulled wine, mince pies and a charity raffle. A local composer, lyricist and musical director, Tim not only filled us with the joy of the season, but brought much merriment and fun to rehearsals.
To help cushion the blow of losing Ben, we were lucky enough to secure the excellent services of Neil for a lovely candlelit concert for Autumn featuring Faure Requiem, Bruckner and Brahms motets and Schubert Mass in G, accompanied by the Ambrose Quintet and Michael Higgins on organ at St Lawrence Church, Bovingdon. We felt in very safe hands.