Black Sheep "Sing for the King"!

Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Kathy Farrell
Status: Current
Date Posted: Fri, 26 May 2023

On the early May Bank Holiday Monday, as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King Charles III, a micro-flock of Sheep took part in a massed sing of Handel’s Zadok the Priest in Bristol’s beautiful cathedral. The event was part of St. George’s Festival of Voice.

    Some of the flock raring to go!

The coronation coincided with Bristol’s 650th birthday and the aim was to recruit at least 650 singers to sing the breathtaking Zadok the Priest, accompanied by the City of Bristol Brass Band and conducted by Ben England, following an introduction by Mrs Peaches Golding, His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Bristol and Samir Savant, CEO at St George’s, Bristol, who orchestrated the event. 

Bristol has more singing groups than any other English city and the hopes of recruiting 650 singers was most decidedly exceeded with almost 1000 taking part, it was literally standing room only!

    Rehearsals underway

First we gathered in our masses for a rehearsal split into our various parts, running through the anthem with the brass band and taking final instructions from our MD. Ben is the very popular director of the online choir HomeChoir and we had already taken part in online rehearsals with him for our individual parts.

    Sue, Debbie & Sally taking a well earned break but the floor is hard!

We had a break for an hour, and had the chance to listen to some music from the band, including a rousing version of Jerusalem where all the choirs joined in. Spine tingling and a forerunner of the real event!

   Ben conducting the Bristol Brass Band in "Jerusalem"

And then the audience was allowed to enter the cathedral. We were now literally packed to the gunnells and ready for the off!

We performed our piece twice, once at the beginning after speeches and once at the end. After the build of the brass band's lengthy overture, I'm sure every singer felt goosebumps as the magnificent sound of the thousand voices sang the first "Zadok the Priest"!
As well as two performances of Zadok, there were also performances of a special anthem “The Mountains Shall Bring Peace” written for the King by Joanna Forbes Strange sung by Fitzhardinge Consort and of Handel’s three other coronation anthems - Let Thy Hand be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice and My Heart is Inditing conducted by Peter Wagstaff and John Davenport, and sung by Amos Vocale, Thornbury Choral  Fitzhardinge Consort and members of the Cathedral Choir, accompanied by Mark Lee and Paul Walton.

We were particularly pleased that so many Sheep were able to join in, including four of our very newest flock, basses Helen and Natasha, tenor Heather and lead Andrea (who we lost in the crowd after the performance, sorry Andrea).

And even managed our own personal afterglow where we had all four parts so were able to sing a couple of songs in The Green House - well done Helen and Natasha who joined us there.

The whole event was live streamed on YouTube as well as being recorded, The recording will be sent to the King in honour of his coronation with the best wishes of the City of Bristol.

Sue Davis & Kathy Farrell