Interview with Dan Ludford-Thomas – conductor of Two Choirs, One Messiah

Dan is in demand as a choral animateur, directing choral workshops and projects both in the UK and internationally. He is currently Head of Singing at Dulwich College, and is a singing teacher at Eton College. He is the Musical Director of Concordia Chamber Choir, the Director of Music of Lewisham Choral Society and the Associate Conductor of the Hackney Singers.

On 20 March you will be conducting the Hackney Singers and Lewisham Choral Society in their performance of Handel’s Messiah. Can you tell us a bit about this choice of programme, and what we can expect from the concert?
This is the first collaboration between the Hackney Singers, Lewisham Choral Society and the Forest Philharmonic. Handel’s Messiah needs no introduction, it is one of the best known and loved oratorios. We hope to bring the work to life with 300+ singers, our fine soloists and the vibrancy of the Forest Philharmonic.

What have been the challenges of conducting a combination of two choirs?
Making sure that the individuals sing as one, that everyone feels they are making a valuable contribution and that everyone is prepared to perform in step with one another to bring the music off the page to the audience.

Do you find working with amateur choirs to be a particularly rewarding experience?
It is a privilege to work with amateur choirs, their commitment and enthusiasm not only in singing but in all the background organisation that goes on is truly inspiring. I am always respectful that everyone present has chosen to give their free time to make music and put concerts on.

Is there a piece of music you would pick out as one of the ‘best’ works ever written?
I can’t say there is one work written that  is the best, but many many amazing pieces we can get stuck into.

And is there a work that is for you, emotionally, especially important?
Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers as it was the first large scale piece I directed making the switch from the perspective of a singer to that of conductor. As with all works you revisit a piece see what you did, remember, redo, refine.

What is the most played piece of music on your mp3 player or in your CD collection?
I have quite a wide range of styles I like from polyphony to pop. I suppose Bach is never far away and the 48 preludes and fugues are a particular favourite as they have such variety of speed and mood each one has an interesting story.

Do you have any strange rituals you carry out before or after you perform?
I need peace and quiet before I perform and then I am happy to let the noise carry on way past the last chord of a performance.

For more info and to book tickets click here.

Watch OAE’s latest video: Laurence Cummings on Handel’s Messiah

Laurence Cummings talks about Handel’s Messiah performed at Southbank Centre on 6 December

Pianist Angela Hewitt talks about her forthcoming recitals

There are two chances to catch Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt at Southbank Centre. Tomorrow’s International Piano Series recital includes a Bach Partita, Beethoven’s Eroica Variations and Brahms’ Handel Variations.  Angela writes:

“My programme pairs two suites of the Baroque period with two of the greatest masterpieces ever written in variation form. It is well known that Beethoven played a lot of Bach as a boy, but perhaps less so that Brahms was greatly attracted to the music of many Baroque composers (including Couperin whose keyboard works he edited in the 1880s). I always wanted to pair a Handel Suite with the mighty Brahms/Handel Variations to show that the connection between the two does not end with the theme. Even Brahms can benefit from a ‘dusting off’ and a fresh look at the score.”

Click here to book.

Then on Monday 4 April she performs concertos by Bach and Mozart with Britten Sinfonia. In this podcast, she talks to Fiona Talkington about how her playing of Bach and Mozart is infused with song and dance, and discusses directing from the piano.

Click here to book.

Massive Messiah: your chance to sing with The Sixteen

Harry ChristophersWe are searching for 750 singers from around the country (or beyond!) to join conductor Harry Christophers and The Sixteen in a giant performance of Handel’s Messiah on Saturday 14 May. You will need to know the music in advance, but there’s the option of taking part in rehearsals in London ahead of the performance date. Click here to find out more.

You can also simply buy a ticket for the performance and listen, or if you’d like to stand up and sing just the famous ‘Hallelujah’ Chorus, buy a ticket and then come to a free workshop on the day. Click here to book.