Verdi Messa da Requiem – 2008

Charity: The Art Room
Venue: Sheldonian Theatre
Date: 2nd February 2008
Naomi Harvey (soprano)
Maria Jagusz (Mezzo-soprano)
Stephen Chaundy (Tenor)
Simon Thorpe (Bass)

Oxford Times pre-view:
GILES WOODFORDE talks to Robert Dean about conducting Verdi’s Requiem for a charity concert with a scratch choir

For the third year in succession, conductor Robert Dean is taking on a considerable challenge. In the course of a single day, he will rehearse a large scratch choir, and put on a performance of a major choral work that same evening.

Robert is a major-league professional musician – following a successful career as an opera singer, he has conducted over 100 performances for Scottish Opera, tours frequently in the US and Canada, and is Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Chorus, preparing them for performances under the stellar international conductors of the day. He is also Professor of Voice at London’s Guildhall School.

What, I asked him when we met up, keeps bringing him back to Oxford for these concerts, where singers are not auditioned, but simply asked to “come and sing”?

“I love any opportunity of getting people together to sing. There’s no doubt that it’s almost a spiritual event. With these performances, there’s this tremendous sense of everybody pulling together to make it work. That is so exciting.

“When I’m conducting an opera, for example, I feel very much that I’m a medium between the orchestra pit and the stage – the singers on stage can’t see, and sometimes can barely hear, the orchestra. You are the one person the music is channelled through. The same thing happens in a concert.”

As was the case with Robert Dean’s two previous “come and sing” concerts – Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s The Creation – all proceeds will go to The Art Room, a charity based at Oxford Community School in East Oxford.