St Giles at 6 – May 2017

St Giles at 6 on Sunday 21st May 2017

A large and enthusiastic audience heard A Choral Tapestry with works from Mozart to MacMillan, performed by around 40 members of the choir in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. The beautiful sanctuary echoed with excerpts from Vivaldi’s Gloria and Brahms’ German Requiem, followed by O Radiant Dawn and Quas ego by MacMillan; three pieces on the Virgin included works by Mozart, Bardos and Dubra, and the concert concluded with Rachmaninov’s Bogoroditse, Roberton’s Iona Boat Song, and Rutter’s Gaelic Blessing. As an encore, the choir sang Ye Banks and Braes o Bonnie Doon, by Burns. Audience members were generous in their praise of the choice of programme and performance. Two choral members were stopped by a couple from South Carolina, USA who had really enjoyed the concert, and hoped to hear us sing again!

Bag packing

On Wednesday 21st and Friday 23rd December, several members of Ayr Choral spent between 2 and 6 hours bag packing in M@S, High Street, Ayr. This is always a sociable occasion as customers are happy to chat, find out what we do or congratulate us on our concerts.

£1136 was raised for our funds to offset the costs of hiring venues and orchestras. A big thank you to everyone who contributed – members who packed and customers who put money in the buckets, whether we packed or not!

Christmas Concert 2016

Following our fantastic 140th anniversary concert at the end of October, a large, enthusiastic audience joined us for our Christmas concert on Sunday 18th December in Ayr Town Hall at 7.30.p.m.
Everyone enjoyed the selection of familiar and new carols, accompanied by Gordon Cree on organ and piano. The audience joined in with gusto, particularly with their percussion accompaniment to Jingle Bells! ‘My Lord has come’ by Will Todd and extracts from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, accompanied beautifully by Sharron Griffiths on harp, were highlights.

Special guests, Wellington School Chamber Choir, were led by their conductor, Dennis Haggerty, and accompanied on piano by the head teacher, Simon Johnson.
They sang ‘Gloria’ by Mary McDonald and ‘Christmas Lullaby’ by John Rutter, and followed ‘God bless us every one’ from Disney’s Christmas Carol with ‘Sparklejollytwinklejingley’ Their talent, enthusiasm and musicianship was greeted with rousing applause by audience and choral members.

The Council Chambers was packed during the interval with audience and choir members enjoying mince pies and shortbread, along with interval drinks supplied by Kiama Trust, in aid of cancer support in South Ayrshire.

A bucket collection in aid of Royal Voluntary Service’s ‘Good Neighbours in South Ayrshire’ project raised £386. The service to support anyone over the age of 65, aims to reduce isolation and enable older people to lead as fulfilled and rich lives as they choose.

All in all a great evening for singers, musicians and audience, giving everyone a sense of excitement and anticipation of Christmas.

A Celebration Concert

140 Years of Ayr Choral

Ayr Town Hall was packed to capacity on Sunday 30th October  for one of the most memorable concerts in the history of Ayr Choral. Over ninety present and past members of the choir sang a selection of choral favourites, including excerpts from Handel’s Messiah (performed at the first official concert in 1878), Vivaldi’s Gloria and Faure’s Requiem; traditional Scottish songs, including Burns’ favourite, Ye Banks and Braes, and Mozart’s Ave Verum. We were supported by the highly talented Glasgow Festival Orchestra. Soloists Marie Claire Breen (Sop), Cheryl Forbes (Alto) and Andrew McTaggart (Bass) gave sparkling performances of a variety of arias, duets and solos.

A highlight of the evening was the World Premiere of a specially composed piece, gifted to us by our patron Sir James MacMillan, Quas ego non terras. This stunning piece with amazing organ accompaniment by Gordon Cree, was set to a ‘quirky, but strangely moving Latin poem by Scottish writer Arthur Johnston (1579-1641). ..and tells of his wandering through Europe at a tumultuous time in history.’ (MacMillan) A second piece by our patron, O Radiant Dawn, was equally enthusiastically received by the audience.

The concert ended with the audience joining the choir in a boisterous rendering of Auld Lang Syne, including actions. The party mode continued with birthday cakes and sparkling drinks for all. A display of memorabilia and photographs in the hall proved popular with choir and audience, and informal community singing took place with enthusiastic audience members joining in.

The 140th season will continue with the Christmas Concert on Sunday 18 December, 2016 and a performance of The Brahms Requiem on Sunday 2 April 2017. We hope you can join us then.

140th Season

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Our 140th season continues, with rehearsals for Brahms German Requiem and Song of Destiny going well. Conductor Gerry is leading us through these wonderful works methodically and thoroughly, and German members of the choir are helping with our pronunciation. Put the date in your diary – 2 April -and make sure you buy your tickets, online, at the Gaiety Theatre or from choral members.

Plans are in hand for another concert in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh on Sunday 21st May at 6.00 p.m. We hope supporters in the Edinburgh area and from Ayrshire will come along to hear us sing in this magnificent venue. More details later.

Milestone Award

Scotland Signs Milestone Award Winner 2016June 2016  Scotland Sings Award

Ayr Choral has been awarded this year’s Scotland Sings “milestone” award to celebrate our 140 years of choral singing in Ayr.

We had so many interesting and diverse nominations this year but we were really impressed by the longevity of the Ayr Choral Union. It is quite an achievement for the Union to have been in existence for such a long period of time and to have continued to do so in the face of not just local but the global challenges the world has seen in these 140 years. 2016 sounds like it is going to be a fantastic year for you all and one well worth celebrating. “

Early Day Motion

Thanks to Philippa Whitford MP, Ayr Choral was mentioned in an Early Day Motion No 340. An EDM is introduced to the House of Commons by an MP who then gets as many signatures as possible from other MPs to express their opinion on an issue, e.g. support for or condemnation of an organisation or policy. Ours states that:

That this House recognises that Ayr Choral Union is currently celebrating 140 years of choral singing in Ayr and that, in recognition of this, it has been awarded the Scotland Sings Milestone Award for 2016; and admires the dedication of the choir members in raising the funds required to hire venues and accompanying orchestras to allow a broad range of amateur singers to experience the thrill and sheer joy in performing some of the great choral works.

Our EDM has 18 cross party supporters.