2020 was a strange year. Our aim was to find opportunities amid the uncertainty, improving our singing and working with other artists to revel in a newfound spirit of collaboration.
We have all chosen our standout moments from this year, starting in the Australian summer…
Josh: Australia Tour
My favourite moment of this year was our tour to Australia back in February. Each of the cities we performed in were amazing places and the reception we had from people was incredible. Particular highlights included: Teaming up with two other local choirs to sing Spem in Alium, performing in UKARIA’s amazing concert hall, and, a personal favourite of mine, getting over jet-lag by relaxing by the rooftop pool in our first hotel. We now know that we were incredibly lucky to visit before lockdown – hopefully our plans to tour there again can be realised soon!
Our creative online output during lockdown fell under the Isolation Creation umbrella. Here are some of our highlights from this series.
Owain: our third disc, Fading
It seems like another world when we launched our third album back in March. That was the final concert we gave before everything was turned upside down. The tour we had planned around the UK to celebrate the disc had to be cancelled, and we were disappointed not to be able to share this programme with audiences.
Imagine our delight when, in November, we learned that Fading was awarded Vocal Recording of the Year by Limelight! We enjoyed singing some of the pieces as part of Live from London in August and look forward to performing this programme in the future.
Guy: the return to work
My favourite moment of 2020 was the day we were all able to meet again after the first lockdown. In June we met in a park near King’s Cross ahead of our first rehearsal in months and it was such a pleasure to see everyone again and experience that first sliver of normality. Singing together that day made me feel like we were going to be able to work safely again in 2020 and everything we’ve managed to achieve since then has stemmed from that moment.
Andrew: JAM on the Marsh
A major highlight of this year for me was performing at JAM on the Marsh. We gave two online concerts in St Leonard’s Church, Hythe. As well as the thoroughly enjoyable music-making that week, it was great to have the boys in my home county of Kent. The weather was fantastic, and much cricket, beach time, and merriment was shared.
Joseph: Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3
This was a new one for us as a group, though strangely familiar: many of us grew up immersed in the tradition of which Choral Evensong is an integral part. We commissioned a new psalm chant from Kerensa Briggs for the broadcast, also giving the world premiere of Owain Park’s Night Prayer alongside music by Byrd, Tavener and Piers Kennedy. It was a distinct honour and privilege to be among the first people to sing a live broadcast of the service for the BBC after the first national lockdown; a series which helped pave the way for the rightful return of our church and cathedral choirs to the airwaves.
Mike: London Sound Gallery
Our first go at running a festival, London Sound Gallery really stood out for me: two frenetic days in the summer experiencing some amazing live concerts, and then the joy of sharing them with an audience at home. I was watching highlights from The Hermes Experiment this morning and I had such a pang of nostalgia for what was a really amazing series.
In the spirit of collaboration…
…where to be-gin? We teamed up with trumpeter Matilda Lloyd to perform James Macmillan’s In Splendoribus Sanctorum, a fantastically atmospheric work, as part of our Isolation Creation series. Not only was it delightful to work with Matilda virtually, but in October we were able to perform two concerts in London, featuring the world premiere of Richard Barnard’s Aura, which we co-commissioned this year.
During the first UK lockdown, we found ourselves glued to our screens as Héloïse Werner captured our imaginations with her coronasolfège videos. We thought it would be fun to try it out for ourselves – amazingly, Héloïse thought so too and so we commissioned coronasolfège for 6, which we are delighted to present as a video.
Sam: a return to live concerts
Our concerts at Snape Maltings remains a great moment for me. I remember the weather being torrential that day, but the sense of excitement was so high as concerts were now a bit of rarity. Singing in that incredible venue (for the first time in my case) in those times was really special.
Thank you for sharing these memories with us. Let us know your favourite moment of 2020 on social media!