About Amici

The choir was founded in 1994 by Dr. John Cole. He of course was already well known throughout Somerset and in his 50 active years probably did more to bring live, high-quality music to the county than any other single person. He combined a busy career as a local GP with his other great love, music, starting in the early 1960s with the founding of the Somerset Summer Chorus. By 1976 when they gave two performances of Verdi’s Requiem in Wellington to packed audiences in 30+ degree heat, there were 168 in the choir, tiered right to the top of the church.

When the Summer Chorus ended he was appointed musical director of the Taunton Choral Society, a post he held for 15 years during which 50 concerts were performed. Further invitations followed and at one time he was musical director of four choirs.

He realised that at some stage he would have to narrow his focus and in 1994 he founded a chamber choir, Amici. As the name suggests, this started out as a small group of like-minded friends who just got together for the sheer pleasure of singing. Inevitably it grew and today numbers around 36, sometimes more if larger works are being tackled.

Many of its members are solo singers in their own right and the choir has several overseas tours to its credit, including to Italy, USA, France and Belgium. While they do a good deal of what you might call ‘the serious stuff’ they also perform ‘let your hair down concerts’, Gershwin, Cole Porter and the like.

Sadly in 2013 John Cole passed away and the conductor’s baton was ably picked up by Andrew Trewhella who now leads us. The goal of the choir now, as then, is to give the best possible performances of all types of music, and especially to bring new composers and their works to public notice. That is why mixed in with the well established choral repertoire, Amici have performed several premier performances and we have had works composed for us.

We are a chamber choir, and although we will still happily perform larger-scale works with orchestral accompaniment, our focus is on the huge body of music available for smaller ensembles, with minimal accompaniment and often a cappella. This means that at our rehearsals we keep ‘note-bashing’ to a minimum, concentrating on phrasing, dynamics, balance and line. It is expected therefore that members will already have a good sight-reading capability and be prepared to work at home on learning the notes before coming to the rehearsals.

To give you an idea of the sort of things we do, a list of previous performances is available here.

AMICI has sung:

Bach ‘Jesu Meine Freude’, Mass in B Minor, ‘St. John’ Passion, ‘St. Matthew’ Passion
Beethoven Choral Fantasia
Bernstein Chichester Psalms
Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem
Douglas Coombes Requiem (UK premier), Gloria (composed for Amici)
Duruflé Requiem
Elgar Dream of Gerontius (with Taunton Choral Society)
Fauré Requiem, Cantique de Jean Racine
Handel ‘Messiah’
Haydn ‘Nelson’ Mass, ‘Harmoniemesse’
Karl Jenkins ‘The Armed Man’, Requiem
Mendelssohn ‘Elijah’ (semi-staged performance)
Menotti ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ (staged)
Monteverdi Vespers
Mozart Vespers K339, Requiem K626
Parry ‘I Was Glad’, ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’, Magnificat 1897
Patterson Millennium Mass
Rachmaninov Vespers
Rossini Stabat Mater, Petit Messe Solennelle
Rutter Requiem, Magnificat, ‘Feel the Spirit’
Karl Rütti Missa Angelorum
Will Todd ‘Mass in Blue’
Verdi Requiem (with King’s College choir)
Vivaldi Gloria

 

Not to mention literally hundreds of part songs by Bruckner, Elgar, Byrd, Gershwin, Stanford, Whitacre, Thompson, Berlin, Morley, Mercer, Porter, Vaughan-Williams, Harris, Bridge, Sullivan, PDQ Bach, Bart, Kern, Britten, Tippet, Finzi, Taverner, Pearsall, Holst, Purcell, Walton, Allain, Bennett, Shearing, Rutter et al!

Most of our concerts are in given in Taunton or Wellington, but we do occasionally travel to other parts of the county where appropriate. As mentioned earlier we have enjoyed choral trips overseas, and plans are already well advanced for a tour based in San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain in July/August 2015.

Andrew Trewhella

Our Musical Director

Our Musical Director has been immersed in choral music from an early age. He read music at Bristol University before studying for a PGCE at Bath College of Higher Education and the Associateship Diploma of the Royal College of Organists. He started his teaching career at Trinity School, Croydon, where he worked and toured extensively with the world-renowned Trinity Boys’ Choir as Assistant Director and school organist.

A Cornishman by descent, Andrew was delighted to return to his beloved West Country when he was appointed Director of Music at Wellington School in 1995. Since then, he has overseen the expansion and diversification of every aspect of the music department, including the keenly anticipated move into wonderful new creative facilities with the opening of the new George Corner Music School in September 2010.

Within the department’s large and thriving choral scene, Andrew currently directs the acclaimed Chapel Choir, which sings at major venues across the UK and abroad, arranges for and directs elite vocal groups Girlforce9 and BVox and conducts the School Choral Society.

An eclectic musician, Andrew aims for diversity. He conducts and sings with choirs, appears as a tenor soloist, regularly accompanies on either piano or organ and musically directs Musical Theatre, including several productions at the famous Minack Theatre in Cornwall.

He took on this disparate bunch of musical anarchists in 2012 and since then we have been delighted with his skill, sheer musicianship and warm commitment to us. He has already led us along some less familiar musical paths and it is a journey well worth the taking.

Peter Adcock

Our Rehearsal Accompanist & Assistant Musical DirectorPeter_Adcock

Peter Adcock won an organ scholarship to read music at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, where he secured a further music scholarship with the highest first in his year.

A pianist, organist and flautist, he reached the regional piano finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year at the age of 14; gained his organ diploma before going up to Oxford in 1988; and received a gold award for his flute playing from the Royal Schools of Music.

He studied the piano with the eminent Bach specialist and performer, Maurice Cole; the distinguished teacher, Danielle Salomon; and his mentor, the world-renowned Professor Alexander Kelly, late of the Royal Academy of Music, London. He also took organ lessons at Exeter Cathedral, and flute at Dartington College.

Frequent collaborations with other musicians include coaching from Paul Hamburger, and accompanying conferences, lectures, classes and master classes by Sir David Willcocks, Robert Tear, Sir Neville Marriner and Nigel Perrin.

We are delighted to have him as our rehearsal repetiteur and assistant musical director, both at rehearsals and performances.

Our GoalsLinda-Marshall-Cole

To sing of course, and to give pleasure to those who come to hear us. We also look to the future of music in our area and further afield. That means that we want to encourage new, young singers, and to perform new music. Our founder John was tireless in his efforts to give new singers a platform at our concerts and to promote musical education. He was supported in that by his wife Linda, herself an operatic soprano of the highest calibre and a superb vocal teacher. Many of Amici’s concerts have featured soloists just embarking on their careers and who have gone on to do great things musically.

When we can we like to give financial help to young singers, and have recently been pleased to provide bursaries to support their musical education. All we ask in return is that they sing with us for a year or so. We also hope that we will be able to assist new composers, perhaps by performing a newly written work or even commissioning music for us to sing.

Where Do Amici Rehearse?

We rehearse on Monday evenings 19:30 to 21:30 in the hall at Temple Methodist Church, Upper High Street, TAUNTON, TA1 3PY.

The number of rehearsals for a major concert (of which we usually do three per year – Easter time, Summer and November) is usually around eight. We ask members to give a clear commitment in advance as to whether or not they will be available for any given concert, and to make the same level of commitment for rehearsals. Normally we ask for at least an 80% attendance – less than that and the Musical Director has the right to review whether or not appearance in the concert is appropriate.

How Do I Join Amici?

We are always keen to hear new talent. However bear in mind that since balance is of vital importance in an ensemble like ours, we try to keep the numbers in each section at appropriate levels, while providing a large enough ‘pool’ of singers to cope with illness, holidays and other unavoidable absences.

That said, if you think that our repertoire is attractive and that you have the necessary skills and experience, Andrew Trewhella will be pleased to consider your application. You may then be asked to attend for an audition with him, possibly at our rehearsal venue or some other suitable location.

We ask an annual membership fee of £120, plus a small contribution before each concert towards the cost of any music hire we may have to do. Students pay a fee of only £5 per term, and there is a discounted rate of £100/member for partners in the same household.

Click here to see the application form for possible membership.Elizabeth-Watts-profile

Our Patron

In November 2006 Amici performed Brahms’s ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem’ in King’s College Chapel. Our soprano soloist that night was a young lady who just the year before had graduated from the Royal College of Music and in 2006 had won the Kathleen Ferrier Prize. Her name is Elizabeth Watts and she went on the win the Lieder Prize at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. She is now a much sought-after world class performer in opera, oratorio and lieder, and we are delighted that having maintained her contact with Amici and Taunton she is now our honoured Patron.

Hire Amici

Do you want a choir for a wedding, village festival, corporate event or the like? Amici will be delighted to perform, we have built up a rich repertoire representing every genre of choral/vocal composition. Or, if you like, just tell us what you want and we’ll learn it!

Numbers can vary according to requirements but we can field everything from a quartet to a full strength chorus, sacred and secular from Baroque to Jazz and beyond!

Click here to get in touch with us to discuss how we can sing for you.

Amici wedding choir

Amici chamber choir can supply a high quality choir of around 20 singers or fewer for weddings in Taunton Deane and surrounding villages.

We generally sing 3 hymns – chosen by the couple in discussion with the minister – and anthems or other songs of the couple’s choice during the signing of the register.

We would be very happy to meet you and discuss your wedding arrangements and suggest music for the ceremony.

We have a wide repertoire of music appropriate for weddings, including:

  • Ave Verum Corpus – Mozart
  • Locus Iste – Bruckner
  • If Ye Love Me – Tallis
  • Panis Angelicus – Franck
  • The Lord Bless You and Keep You – Rutter
  • Psalm 23 (The Vicar of Dibley Theme) – Goodall
  • I was Glad – Parry
  • Hallelujah Chorus – Handel
  • This is the Day – Rutter (written for the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and performed at their wedding)
  • Set me as a Seal – Clausen
  • We can assist over choice of organist (fee to be negotiated separately). The choir will need to rehearse in the church on the day.

For more information click on the email address below and send us your enquiry

hireamici@amicichoir.org.uk

 

Amici is a member of the Taunton Association for the Performing Arts, of Making Music and we have also been happily associated in joint performances with Taunton Choral Society and OrchestraWest.