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  • Writer's pictureGilly Cameron Cooper


Updated: Aug 25, 2021

by Gilly Cameron-Cooper

"Wonderful singing, you really raised my spirits," said a member of the Portsmouth Cathedral congregation after our final Sunday choral service @Portsmouth Cathedral. It was the first time for the people of Portsmouth to hear live choral services since before Covid restrictions, as it was for members of @Thames Philharmonic Choir to sing them.

Here we are, with conductor Harry Bradford and organist/accompanist James Orford, centre, outside the Great West Doors of the Cathedral. Over three and a half days of workshop and singing, we strengthened our voices, improved our pitch, increased lung power and enjoyed the thrill of singing together again.

Portsmouth Cathedral, the tower and towering cumulus (which downloaded occasional heavy rainstorms)

Below: Rehearsals in the Song School and in the choir stalls from Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, Satuday and Sunday in between services. Conductor Harry Bradford was relentless but inspiring in his coaching: "nngggg-aah, over the top of the high notes (warming up)'re under pitch/behind the beat... watch breath here, here or here ("or ever," an alto was heard to mutter)... sustain!....sing it again, and again"...until we are able to give our absolute best at the services. Singing live again as part of a choir, we 'raise the roof' of the Cathedral, with stirring renditions of great anthems, Magnificats, psalms and hymns. Rich bass tones from the Choir's new choral scholar Alex Bowen-Brown, awe-inspiring sounds from Choir accompanist and Westminster Cathedral organist James Orford on the West Great Organ.

Conductor Harry Bradford inspired us to work hard and raised our level of performance, but gave us 2.5-hour lunch breaks. He, organist James Orford, and baritone Alex Bowen-Brownwent to the funfair (James won three teddy bears). Some had a seaside sandwich and snooze; others explored the docks and old town, or recharged with a swim in the Solent between rehearsals and rainstorms.

Below: Thursday evening's group supper overlooking Portsmouth Harbour, to fuel up for the long weekend of singing @thamesphilharmonicchoir @portsmouthcathedral @HarryBradford @JamesOrford @visitPortsmouth

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