Cantemus was formed in 1999 with the aim of performing a wide variety of sacred and secular music, both accompanied and unaccompanied, ranging from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. The choir undertakes four performances a year with Spring, Summer, Autumn and Christmas concerts primarily in the West Berkshire area. All the concerts raise money for good causes.
At present the choir has 25 singers. This number fluctuates from concert to concert depending upon singer availability and the musical requirements of the concert programme. The choir committee reserves the right to invite selected singers to join the choir for specific concerts should the need arise.
Entry to the choir is by audition provided there is a vacancy for the voice being auditioned. The newly auditioned voice will then be required to do a concert probation before being admitted to the choir as a full member. Participation in choir concerts is not mandatory and all choir members are allowed to skip concerts providing they declare their non availability before rehearsals begin.
The choir rehearses on a Monday evenings in the music room of St Gabriels School, in Newbury. Each concert requires a maximum of 6 evening rehearsals and an afternoon rehearsal on the concert day. As the concerts programmes are put together on less than twelve hours’ rehearsal time all singers are expected to come to the first rehearsal familiar with the music.
The choir does not have a permanent musical director but invites people to conduct the choir on a concert by concert basis. This allows the choir either to put together its own musical programmes or be imported into other concerts where the responsibility of the concert rests with an external source.
The conductors are present at auditions and re-auditions and will present their recommendations to the committee on the suitabililty of a singer to join or remain in the choir. The committee will then make a decision based on this recommendation.
Ian Westley studied music at Reading University where he specialised in piano and organ. He pursues a career as an instrumental and singing teacher, as well as acting as an accompanist and repetiteur. He conducts the Erleigh Cantors of Reading, and is Director of Music at St. Peter’s Church, Caversham.