Sheffield Telegraph 19 September 2018
Sheffield Bach Choir is thrilled that Thomas Corns, Director of Music at Sheffield Cathedral, will play at their ‘French Connection’ concert on 6 October. “I’m very much looking forward to playing Poulenc’s Concerto” said Thomas. “It’s the first time I’ve performed with one of Sheffield’s major ensembles as a soloist since my appointment – and it’ll be in the Cathedral where I work!”
Prize-winning graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, Thomas held organ scholarships at Cambridge and St Paul’s Cathedral and has performed on TV and radio. Thomas feels privileged to be nurturing the centuries-old tradition of choral singing in this wonderful venue. “I enjoy working with the talented boys and girls who come from across the city to be choristers, and with the professional musicians and students of the choir.”
The choristers will join the Bach Choir to sing Duruflé’s Requiem, Faure’s well-known Cantique and Poulenc’s exquisite Salve Regina, with mezzo soprano Joanna Gamble and baritone Thomas Asher. Singing with the altos will be Thomas’ wife Claire, who joined the choir shortly after their arrival in 2017.
As a child Thomas was inspired by the organ playing at Wells cathedral where he was a chorister. “Good organs often have a tremendous expressive range but they are also impressive instruments” he explained. “Playing a cathedral organ to thousands of people on an important occasion can feel like a big responsibility – but it’s also great fun!”
Staying with the organ theme, two days later the choir’s music director Simon Lindley presents a free recital at Nether Green Methodist Church on the magnificent Father Willis organ, which was almost certainly played at his grandparents’ wedding in 1916. “Henry ‘Father’ Willis built organs in St Paul’s cathedral, the Royal Albert Hall and Windsor Castle, as well as the somewhat smaller but no less fine example now at Nether Green” said Simon. “My grandmother Elsie May lived on Gladstone Road, Ranmoor, but moved to Leeds after her marriage to Rev Francis Joshua Lindley”. Music and ministry run in the family; Simon’s sister Ruth was a singing tutor who sang in the London Oratory Choir, his late father was a minister and his cousin Lisa lives in Sheffield and sings with Sheffield Bach Choir.
The recital is organised by the choir with Sheffield & District Organists’ and Choirmasters’ Association, of which Simon is President-Elect, in commemoration of the Armistice Centenary, which the choir will also mark by presenting Karl Jenkins’ Armed Man at the cathedral on 17 November. “This recital includes works by Elgar, Butterworth and Vaughan Williams” explained Chris Walker, Chair of Sheffield Bach Choir. “It will be a wonderful evening rounded off by a free buffet. We hope readers will come to hear Simon play the organ that has such a special place in his family history – especially since it’s his 70th birthday two days later!”
The recital is free, with a retiring collection for choir funds; details from www.sheffieldbachchoir.org.uk.