ABOUT THE CHOIR
Thame Chamber Choir has been providing audiences with high quality musical performances since it began in 1999. We are a vibrant mixture of adults of all ages, from many different walks of life, with a shared love of performing alongside each other, to the very best of our abilities.
Our repertoire includes an enormous variety of works from the Renaissance to the current day, both unaccompanied and with guest instrumentalists. Shorter works are drawn from the best of the choral literature, by composers such as Brahms, Elgar, McDowell, Poulenc, Purcell, Victoria and Whitacre. Substantial works have included the St John Passion (Bach), Chichester Psalms (Bernstein), The Passing of the Year (Dove), Mass for Double Choir (Martin), 1610 Vespers (Monteverdi), as well as Chilcott, Mozart, Rossini and Vivaldi.
Many concerts feature imaginative collaborations with wonderful musicians and actors who live in the area, including Bruce Alexander, the Coull Quartet, Benjamin Hulett, Anna Markland and Adrian Thompson.
We usually give four concerts a year plus occasional additional appearances. Many concerts take place in St. Mary’s, the beautiful fifteenth-century church in the heart of Thame. Summer concerts are regularly held in the glorious acoustic of Exeter College Chapel, Oxford. Others have been performed in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford; St. John the Evangelist, Oxford; Peterborough Cathedral; Wells Cathedral and Bath Abbey.
Voice training is a regular feature of our weekly meetings and healthy singing is encouraged. Vocal workshop rehearsals have often been led by guests such as Miriam Allan (soprano), Robert Hollingworth (I Fagiolini), Deborah Miles-Johnson (choral coach), and Charlotte Mobbs (The Sixteen).
Duncan Aspden has spent twenty-odd years getting gradually worse at choral direction. As an undergraduate at Cambridge he directed endless choral services, concerts, world premieres, recordings and tours with complete conviction and unshakeable assurance. A few years wasted in pursuit of an actual career (interspersed with a handful of concerts with singers now known as the best in the business—funnily enough the concerts were pretty good) was only interrupted when his then girlfriend suggested a trip around the world.
On a beach in the South Pacific (really!) he finally worked out that he could earn much less money and work twice as hard as a professional musician, and so resolved never to set foot in an office again. During a period of further study at the Royal Academy of Music he began to notice that choral direction was a bit harder than he had previously thought (and that one or two others were quite good at it), and when he began to work regularly with hard-nosed pros he finally spotted that exactly how well they sang depended upon how much he could avoid being rubbish.
Eyes opened, he now tries to avoid ruining about 30 concerts and over 100 services every year. A choral tart, he will conduct or play (organ or harpsichord) in more or less anything where there are singers involved, and that takes him regularly to places as glamorous as Swindon, Bracknell and Wendover. He’s a complete sucker for devoting hours completely unpaid and largely unrecognised putting together unusual programmes that only a few hundred people ever hear, just because the challenge of getting it more or less right pleases him. He’s also become thoroughly conviced that training choirs – presuming they can already do the boring stuff like read music and sing together – is just about the best fun you can have.
Duncan lives a few miles from Thame with his wife (the same girl whose daft idea this was in the first place) and two young children. He can be distracted from music by cricket, walks with the dog to the pub (to talk about cricket), and by screams of “Daddy, watch crikkit??”. Having recently bought an old, twice extended and rather confused house, he currently devotes much time to putting off its restoration.
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT THE CHOIR
Thame Chamber Choir is a registered charity dedicated to providing quality choral music. Expenses are covered through choir member fees, revenue from concerts, and gifts from generous supporters. In addition to meeting the basic costs of direction and venue hire, gifts enable the choir to provide special opportunities, including the hiring of professional guest soloists and instrumentalists. In 2019 the choir sponsored a Twentieth Anniversary Choral Composition Competition, won by Alison Willis with her setting of Yeats’s poem ‘The Everlasting Voices’.
Contact us if you would like to financially support the choir. Patrons (£35 per year) receive complimentary programmes and drinks at concerts. Benefactors (£70 per year) also receive a free ticket to each concert. Both receive priority booking for concerts and have their names listed in the concert programme. Thank you for your generous support.
TCC2 — THAME CHILDREN’S CHOIR
TCC2—Thame Children’s Choir— was founded in 2010 with administrative and financial support from the Thame Chamber Choir. Also directed by Duncan Aspden, the choir offers a special opportunity for boys and girls aged from 7 years upwards to learn to sing and enjoy a wide variety of music. Members come from a wide area in and around Thame so joining the choir is a great chance to make new friends!
There are no auditions: all you need is enthusiasm and a love of singing. For more information visit the TCC2 web site.
FRIENDS AND ORGANISATIONS
Here are a few of our friends, including other choirs and organisations that support music education and performance:
Making Music provides guidance and practical help to music groups, including insurance, DBS checking, and advice regarding copyright, licensing, and permissions.
The City of Oxford Choir is our sister choir in Oxford, also led by Duncan Aspden.
The Witchert Chorale is based in Haddenham and has a rich history of raising funds for charities and good causes.