Who Are We
The name Amici del Canto comes from the Italian for ‘friends of song’.
Based in the beautiful surroundings of North Wales coast, we perform a wide repertoire of choral music; from ‘household-name’ composers to those who are less familiar, and which covers nearly half a millennium of musical history.
2011: ANTICIPATING OUR RETURN TO ITALY
A look at our Events pages will show that we already have a busy year in store, with concerts not only in our locality but also further afield in the Midlands of England. We are also in preparation for our third visit to the Chester Competitive Festival of Performing Arts.
However, we confidently predict that the highlight of the year will come in July when we return to Italy to reacqaint ourselves with some old friends and take part in some memorable concerts.
Watch this space!
2010: NATIONAL BROADCASTS AND AN INVITATION TO THE DUKE
The first month of the year saw the choir taking part in a recording of BBC Radio Wales’ Morning Worship programme for National broadcast. For this event we were glad to join forces with some old friends at the Rhos-on-Sea United Reformed Church where we have performed previously and where we would be performing later in the year. Two programmes were recorded which were broadcast during the following February and March. A full account of this event is available on the appropiate news page.
In April we took part, once again, in the Chester Competitive Festival of Performing Arts. Hoping to repeat our successes in 2007 we entered two classes, the open choir class and the madrigal class. Not only were our hopes realised but they were exceeded! We received distingued results and not only walked away with three trophies – including the trophy for the highest awarded mark overall – but we also qualified for the Festival’s gala concert of prize winners at the prestigious venue of Eaton Hall, the residence of the Duke of Westminster. The latter concert took place the following September and it was hugely exciting for us to perform at such a wonderful venue in such beautiful surroundings. More information on our participation in the festival is also available on our news pages.
Other highlights in 2010 was a performance at the major annual fundraiser for Kentigern’s Hospice at another lovely venue, Bodrhyddan Hall in Dyserth, North Wales.
We signed off the year with two Christmas performances of Pump Carol Cymraeg, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols and other seasonal items. In addition, soloists from our choir gave a spell-binding performance of Bach’s Cantata (BWV 151).
2009: A MASS OF REQUIEMS
The year began with much anticipation and excitement as we prepared for one of our highest profile engagements thus far; guest choir for the Llandudno performances of the national tour of Eternal Light. The production was a wonderful collabration of choral music and ballet, performed by the Rambert Dance Company, together with ourselves, and featured the challenging yet beautifully uplifting setting of the requiem mass byHoward Goodall which also incorporated settings of modern British war poems. It was a fabulous experience and afforded us the opportunity to work in an entirely different context and with some new and exciting musical professionals, as well as one for which we received a great deal of acclaim.
In March we joined forces with Rydal School for a performance of John Rutter’s Requiem, another setting of the traditional mass but with a modern interpretation. Working with schools is something that we thoroughly enjoy both to support the exposure of school children to the exciting world of the classical repertoire, and also as a chance to see young and upcoming talent.
June saw us playing host to I Cantori di Carmel, another choir with an italian name but from California in the U.S.A. As part of the North Wales leg of their international tour, I Cantori di Carmel and Amici del Canto collobrated in a local concert, which proved to be a great success as well as an opportunity to forge yet more international links.
July, cemented our relationship with the Llandudno Festival as we took part in a performance of the beautiful and etherealRequiem by Gabriel Fauré. This month also saw us embark on our tour of the spectaculour highlands of Scotland where we performed pieces by the Scottish composer, James Macmillan, Henry Purcell, as well as the amazing Miserere by Gregorio Allegri. We also performed the Mariazellermesse, the Mass for Mariazell, an unbelievably rarely-performed mass by Josef Haydn, a joyous work of depth and vivacity. We gave two performances in Scotland, the first at the enchanting cathedral in Dornoch and the second at the Church of Scotland in Brora where we received an incredibly warm reception and very generous hospitality.
Following our summer recess we were invited to perform at the Rhuddlan Town Council’s Civic Service at St. Mary’s Church in the town, a prestigious event in heart of Denbighshire attended by the town’s mayor, mayoress and many of the local dignitaries.
Christmas 2009, offered us the opportunity to work with The Point of Ayr Colliery Band a highly talented brass band, where we performed our own repertoire before joining together with the band for another rarely-performed work, this time Edward Elgar’s tribute to Queen Alexandra of Denmark, So Many True Princesses. Please feel free to watch the performance on the Our Musicpage.
2008: RETURN TO ITALY
From the beginning of the year, we found ourselves much in demand with a steady stream of diverse engagements throughout the early part of the year which included performances at churches, theatres, restaurants and luxury country houses. As a precursor to our tour we had a particularly busy period performing full programmes at three different churches in as many days.
July took us to the captivating medieval city ofSant’Angelo in Vado in Italy’s Marche region, the home city of Fausto Galli, one of our tenors. The tour included performances of a predominantly secular programme at the Teatro Zuccari, and a concert of sacred music in the city’s gorgeous Basilica Cathedral. We also had the opportunity to perform madrigals at the city’s fiesta. At every turn we received the warmest of welcomes and the most generous hospitality; it was certainly a visit that all of us will remember with the greatest of fondness. A full account of the tour can be found on our news pages.
2007: A GERMAN JOURNEY AND A TROPHY OR THREE
April of 2007, saw us building on our success by competing in the Chester Festival of Performing Arts against choirs and singing groups from all over North Wales and North West England. We were awarded the trophies for both the categories we entered: The Nicholson Rose Bowl awarded for madrigal singing where we performed two pieces by English madrigalist Thomas Morley; and The Nicholson Bowl awarded to the best mixed choir where we presented the haunting Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd and, contrastingly, the challenging To Daffodils by Benjamin Britten. We would have been happy with our haul but more was come in the shape of the prestigious Oriana Cup, awarded to the recipient of the highest mark across all the choir categories.
Summer brought our third consecutive invitation to perform at the Llandudno Festival which afforded us the opportunity to once again perform with the Manchester Camerata, this time celebrating the centenary of Edward Elgar with the presentation of three of his lesser known works: Ave Verum Corpus and Ave Maria from the early part of his career and So Many True Princesses which commemorated the death of Queen Alexandra; our performance of this last piece marked one of the very few occasions on which it has been performed since the composers death.
A few weeks later saw us flying off to the German State of Hessen to embark on a tour of the region around Frankfurt. We based ourselves in the charming town of Bad Homburg not far from Frankfurt and where we had the opportunity to give a concert in the town’s beautiful Schlosskirche, or Castle Church, where we featured Henry Purcell’sCome Ye Sons of Art, a work composed to celebrate the birthday of Queen Mary II. The tour also included a performance at the Alte Nikolaikirche in the lovely Römerburg square in the heart of Frankfurt. From there we travelled to the delightful town of Weilburg where we performed for the Sunday service at the town’s Schlosskirche before moving on to give a performance in Oberusel.
We finished off the year by featuring the first part of Georg Frideric Handel’s masterpiece, The Messiah, as part of our seasonal concerts performed in our local area.
2006: THE ROAD TO ROME
The prospect of our choir, barely a year old, embarking on a trip to perform in arguably the most famous church in the world was almost unbelievable but this is what 2006 held in store for us. Needless to say, we were incredibly excited to be selected to participate in the International Sacred Music Festival in Rome. Before all the excitement however, we had several local engagements to fulfill performing in some of our local churches as well as taking up our second invitation to perform at the Llandudno Festival singing the sublime Ave Verum Corpus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and premiering Botany, a brand new piece specially commissioned for the festival by local composer Ed Wright and accompanied by the Manchester Camerata.
At the end of July we flew to Rome to be amongst the international choirs taking part in the International Sacred Music Festival. Within hours of landing on Italian soil, we were taken to the incredible surroundings of the Vatican City and its awe-inspiring centrepiece, St. Peter’s Basilica. We soon found ourselves whisked beyond Gianlorenzo Bernini’s great Baldacchino and sitting in the quire stalls amongst breath-taking splendour ready to perform pieces by Orlando di Lassus, Henry Purcell and Orlando Gibbons. To say it was an incredible experience, not to mention slightly surreal, is an understatement; not one of us will ever forget it.
From there, the pace never slackened as later that evening we performed at the Chiesa di Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore in Rome’s Piazza Navona. The following two days would see us showcasing some of the beautiful songs from Wales as part of a parade through one of Rome’s major thoroughfares, the Via del Corso before going on to perform at some of the other beautiful churches in the city; namely the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Lucina and the amazing Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola with its stunning trompe l’oeilceiling frescoes.
We completed an incredible year by availing ourselves of the opportunity to perform a mass in its intended setting; that is, within the mass celebration itself. These days this is seldom done but it breathes new life into pieces that are normally performed only in concert halls. On this occasion we presented the intimate Mass for Four Voices by Tudor composer William Byrd.
2005: A NEW CLASSICAL SINGING GROUP IS BORN
2005 saw the inception of Amici del Canto, formed from, among others, former members of the Festival-winning Nigel Shaw Singers. Our group of musical professionals and dedicated students were brought together byNigel Shaw. Within a few short months we had already been invited to perform at the Llandudno Festival alongside the Welsh Baroque Orchestra where we presented a selection of pieces from the theatrical output of Henry Purcell. This performance featured solo performances from within our own number, a practice which we continue to this day; this provides some of our exceptionally talented singers with the chance to shine and enables the group to be self-contained since we require no external soloists. Additionally that year, we also gave several local performances of Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi.