‘Spem in Alium’ Singing Day

Last Saturday, 90 singers came together to work on Tallis’s great motet ‘Spem in Alium’, written for 8 choirs each with 5 voice parts. People came from Portsmouth, London, Eastbourne, Lewes and lots of other places.

Sculpture of St Michael on the historic spire of St Michael in Lewes

We did some warm ups with workshop leaders John Hancorn and me (Nick Houghton), then split into 4 groups of 2 choirs each. We had St.Michael’s Church, the church hall, Westgate Chapel (opposite St.Michael’s) and the Hibbert room also in Westgate Chapel.

Nick Houghton conducting the second performance of Spem in Alium at the Lewes Chamber Choir Singing Day February 2013

Quite a few singers have sung Spem before, but both of today’s directors were Spem virgins!

John Hancorn, Spem in Alium Singing Day with Lewes Chamber Choir

We ended the day with a concert. Each of the 8 choirs had prepared a short motet to sing. Then choirs 1-4 sang Purcell’s Hear my prayer and choirs 5-8 sang Pearsall’s Lay a garland. But the high point was two complete run throughs of Spem, conducted by John Hancorn and finally by me.  Here’s a taster of the final performance.

I think everyone was thrilled by the day. Well done to the Lewes Chamber Choir for organising it. Thanks to John Hancorn for joining me on this day. Thanks also to our sub-directors of the 8 choirs, Nick Milner-Gulland, John Webber, Celia Vince, Susan Bain, Rosemary Colbourne, Malcolm Keeler, Andrew Robinson and John Stamper.

Many people helped on the day to make things go smoothly, including Susan Bain, Roger Murray and Robin Houghton, Tessa George and several others.

The Lewes Chamber Choir runs workshops twice a year. Our next one is on Saturday 13 July – programme to be decided – so if you would like to join us, keep an eye on our website and the workshop page in particular.

Nick Houghton


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