On May 13th 2007, Reading Phoenix Choir participated in the British Heart Foundation Scratch Choral Challenge at the Royal Albert Hall.
The day was split into two parts – the Choral Challenge, which was a competition during the day and a Brahms Requiem from Scratch in the late afternoon. The three judges included Bob Chilcott and Brian Kaye who are both former members of The Kings Singers.
It was a highly nerve jangling wait in the corridors of the Royal Albert Hall whilst we waited our turn to perform to the judges and the knock out rounds. Also unsettling was singing to the panel of judges in a completely empty Hall. The three competition pieces were 1) Hosanna – Giles Swayne 2) Sleep – Eric Whitacre and 3) Billy Boy.
The choir won the competition and then had to perform in front of all the other choirs who had participated in the competition – plus all the other choirs that had come along to the Come and Sing. It was a real thrill to perform on stage in front of a packed Hall.
The competition prize was a commissioned art work of the choir performing at the Royal Albert Hall. The third judge at the competition was from the British Heart Federation and presented the picture to Norman at our Annual Concert which the choir were able to purchase as a limited edition print. A commemorative mug was also available which notably included the typo “Scratch Choral Challange”.
After the excitement of winning the Choral Challenge, the Brahms Requiem from Scratch was a bit of a disappointment. There was a massive oversupply of Altos and Sops and very few tenors (as usual!) so the balance was poor and the quality of the singing not very good. David Willcocks the guest conductor looked more and more glum throughout.