Dynamic, innovative and ready for just about anything in the way of a musical challenge – that’s the Exeter Festival Chorus under Nigel Perrin!
Directed by internationally renowned, professional Choral Conductor, Nigel Perrin, we sing music from a wide range of eras and composers - from Bach, Purcell and Vivaldi to Gershwin, Tavener and James MacMillan. The choir uses renowned soloists such as soprano Lesley Garrett, pianist Peter Donohoe and jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth. We sing with professional orchestras, chamber ensembles, jazz bands and sometimes a cappella.
Below you will find answers to some of the questions you might want to ask.
What do your members say about being in EFC?
"I was looking for something challenging and rewarding; a chance to sing with people who are actually good at it! This is the first amateur choir I’ve been in where quality of music is of premier importance and people help each other. You feel like you are working together to achieve something good as a whole. It’s also really friendly. This is the most rewarding choir I’ve sung with."
"EFC maintains a high standard and has a great musical director and it also has a great atmosphere and is a happy place to be."
"It's an amazing counterpoint to my work. You have to really concentrate your mind on the singing so it relieves the stress. It’s sociable too and a group of us go to the pub every week after rehearsals."
"Nigel is the most musical conductor I’ve ever sung with and his dedication is superb. Nigel keeps us on our toes and he brings such enthusiasm. He is a singer so he knows what he wants and, more importantly, he can tell us how to get it because he has the technical knowledge to produce the right sound."
"Nigel is the right kind of perfectionist. He is the best for getting the best out of us."
Who runs the choir?
Our inspirational conductor and former King's Singer, Nigel Perrin (www.nigelperrin.co.uk), is responsible for the musical standards and training of the choir. He auditions new members and works closely with the Committee, which is elected to oversee all aspects of the choir’s business and to help the choir to maintain high standards. Regular emails and newsletters are sent out to keep choir members up to date with the latest news and choir information is put on the members’ section of the website.
What sort of people are in the choir?
Men and women of all sorts and ages, from all walks of life. We encourage young singers to join us, even if only for one season, and they are given special subscription rates. Travelling to and from concerts outside Exeter gives us the chance to get to know each other better, as do our social activities. Some members get together for a bite to eat before rehearsals, or meet up in the pub afterwards. We hold informal parties after some concerts and arrange an annual social evening at the end of the season.
What’s the commitment?
We rehearse once a week on Wednesday evenings from 7.15 – 9.30 pm in Exeter. Members are expected to attend 80% of rehearsals prior to a concert and to prepare the music in their own time. There is an afternoon dress rehearsal before a performance on concert days. Occasionally, we hold an extra rehearsal for a special concert.
When could I attend a rehearsal?
EFC is an auditioning choir, but you can join us – without the pressure of an audition – at an Open Rehearsal to get an idea of how we work.
We are holding our next Open Rehearsal on Wednesday 21 November for our concert on Saturday 15 December, which includes works to be performed with leading British baritone, Roderick Williams OBE, and the Royal Marines Band.
If you are not able to attend on that date, it is possible for us to arrange a visit to an ordinary rehearsal. Future dates for Open Rehearsals are 23 January and 15 May.
Do you hold auditions?
Yes, we do. We like to make sure that new members feel comfortable singing at the level required in EFC. If you can read music, sing in tune and are prepared to learn new music at home, you are ready for an audition. Re-auditions are held every three years in order to maintain a high standard of performance.
Where do you perform?
We often perform in Exeter Cathedral, but also in other Exeter Venues. Sometimes we sing elsewhere in Devon - Buckfast Abbey and churches in Budleigh Salterton, Crediton and Exmouth, for example. We also travel further from home for special events and have performed in Coventry Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. We have built close friendships with our twin choirs in France, Russia and Germany, and from time to time we are invited to perform with them, or invite them to Exeter.
What does it cost?
The annual membership fee is £170 (special concessions for students). There are also small music hire charges.
What do you wear for concerts?
Depending on the formality of the concert ladies wear long-sleeved black tops and long black skirts/trousers with accessories issued by the choir. Men wear open-necked black shirts (with or without black jackets according to season) or, occasionally, dinner jackets, black trousers, white shirts and black bow ties.
Why not give Jill Nickels, our Membership Secretary, a ring for more information or to arrange for you to come along to an evening rehearsal with the choir?
Tel: 01395 275399