Independent Podcast: Royal Choral Society 140th Anniversary


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The Independent Culture

The Royal Choral Society is 140 years young and joins the ranks of the most venerable choral societies in the land - among them Halifax, Huddersfield, and Hereford. What is it about our love of communal singing that has raised the tradition of the great British Choral Society to such dizzy heights?

Richard Cooke has been Music Director of what was originally the Royal Albert Hall Choral Society (specially founded to perform in that hallowed hall) since 1995 and in this celebratory podcast he talks to Edward Seckerson about a tradition which began with safety in numbers when big was always better and membership of these societies often totalled 1000 or more. But times change and bodies like the Royal Choral Society slimmed down to more manageably dynamic numbers.

Cooke recalls the RCS's illustrious past when the likes of Charles Gounod, Elgar, Dvorak, and Verdi conducted the choir. He talks about the Sir Malcolm Sargent era where the fortunes of the choir took a real upturn and they could be seen in full American Indian costume for performances of Samuel Coleridge Taylor's "Hiawatha". The big 140th Birthday Gala is on 25 June at the hall whose name the choir once bore - the Royal Albert Hall - and what better choice of work than one which the RCS introduced to the British public in 1875, conducted by the composer: Verdi's "Requiem".

Stream the podcast here: