The potential for high jinks can only be imagined when the singers from the Tiffin Boys’ Choir hits the road for its Australian tour. Forty six boys from this school in Kingston-upon-Thames, just outside London are taking advantage of the summer holiday season in the northern hemisphere to bring their riches Down Under. What is special about this school is that it is a state run grammar school that focuses on the performing arts.
By European standards, it is a very young choir, having been established in 1957. Yet it is regarded as a professional ensemble within the industry and has regularly contributed voices to the childrens’ choruses of the Royal Opera, has provided the voices for symphonic works requiring childrens’ voices, and has undertaken radio broadcasts and overseas tours. So, for these lads, aged between 11 and 18 years, experiences like singing in Carmen with Pappano at the Royal Opera, Mahler’s 3rdSymphony with Gergiev and the LSO, and the Spoleto Festival, are all in a day’s work. The professionalism, the discipline and the commitment required of a musician are established early – values that will endure even if a different career path is realized.
The organizers have worked hard to ensure that the tour is affordable for all the singers, raising in the order of GBP 30,000 to “make this happen”. The experience both for audiences and for the singers should be memorable.
On the programme are works by Faure (Cantique de Jean Racine and Requiem), Britten (Rejoice in the Lamb), Brahms (Geistliches Lied) and Howell’s (Like as the hart). Contrasting with the classic by Howells, the choir will perform a setting by Nico Muhly(2004), of which he says:
‘Like as the Hart is my response to Herbert Howells’s famous setting of this Psalm paraphrase. I have always been obsessed with the length of Howells’s melodies and the way that the harmonies trail behind the tunes like halos. In my version, I invert this relationship, with massive elongated harmonies dragging melodic fragments behind them. I arranged the harmonies in a large arch form with shrinking and expanding rhythms on either side of the central point (on the word “God.”)’
The choir will be joined by the St James Players.
Tickets are available at the door; $30/$20