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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

A Requiem and A Requiem

Three days apart and yet whole worlds apart: From the extreme drama of Verdi to the purity of Fauré - all in the life of an amateur chorister.

Verdi is primarily known as an opera composer and his Requiem makes this apparent. It was such a joy for Ceramic City Choir (of which I'm in the 2nd Soprano section) to join with Nantwich in The Victoria Hall, Hanley. Although the words of the Requiem Mass are as familiar as ever it does feel like you've stepped into the world of Don Giovanni. The Verdi Requiem is very solo heavy (each one sounding like an aria, full of drama and passion) and the full orchestra, not forgetting the four trumpets posted high up in the galleries, is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. Combine that with 200 choristers and I think you get the picture. I don't think I'll ever forget it! Months of rehearsal ended on an absolute high with a performance lasting 90 minutes, and then it's on to the next programme of rehearsal.

Three days after the performance it's rehearsal time as usual and this time we're working on Fauré's Requiem. Although the text of the Requiem Mass is largely the same the work couldn't be more different. This work has a simplicity and a purity which is purely divine. It's significantly shorter than the Verdi too. This is the piece that is being sung in the famous last episode of the Inspector Morse TV series. As Inspector Morse suffers his heart attack in the College grounds the choir are rehearsing "In Paradisum" in the background - it's utterly spell binding. Our family made a trip to the scene in question some years ago and actually stood on the spot where this was filmed.

Although I absolutely loved the splendour of the Verdi and am grateful for the experience (it truly was a once in a lifetime performance) I have to admit that I ultimately prefer the Fauré - it's utterly sublime. Between now and next Spring each Tuesday night will see me taking a small trip heavenward as we rehearse this piece. We'll have a short break for our Christmas Concert repertoire but I hope we'll still have a smattering of Fauré along the way. Other items will include Cantique de Jean Racine (again by Fauré) and also a work by Jongen. Have a look at Ceramic City Choir's website to see what we're up to. I'm on the back row, 5th from the left.