Worcester hosts a singing day to remember with composer John Rutter

Around three hundred people squeezed into College Hall, Worcester, on Saturday 24 October for a Come and Sing day with the composer and conductor John Rutter CBE in aid of Worcester Three Choirs Festival.

The participants certainly got their money's worth - the morning session got off to a flying start slightly earlier than advertised, with a sing through Mr Rutter's arrangement of 'Amazing Grace' to warm up everyone's voices. This was followed by a quickfire romp through some of the well-known works by other composers featured in the Oxford University Press anthology 'Weddings for Choirs': the first movement of Vivaldi's 'Gloria', Baach's 'Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring' and the slightly less familiar 'Irish Blessing' by Bob Chilcott and 'Beati quorum via' by Stanford, which proved to be slightly more challenging for those without church choir experience.

Anecdotes from Mr Rutter's long career as a conductor, record producer, composer and arranger punctuated the day, while his insistence that good tuning is based on properly open mouths and uniform vowel sounds and other comments about voice production, pronunciation and phrasing ensured that everyone was kept on their toes and developed their choral singing skills.

In the afternoon we were privileged to sample a few movements from John's new six-part work The Gift of Life. a choral celebration of the living earth, creation, and life itself. The day ended with four of the best-known carols from John's most famous anthologies, the Carols for Choirs books which he edited with David Willcocks, who died a few weeks ago. It may have felt a little bizarre to be singing those famous descants to 'Hark the Herald' and 'O Come all ye faithful' in October, but it was a fitting tribute to Jon's close friend who was also, of course, an organist of Worcester Cathedral and conductor of our Worcester festival.

Many thanks go to John Rutter for his inspiration and energy, to Christopher Allsop who accompanied on the piano and occasionally on the organ, and to Lucy Potter, Cecilia Denlegh-Maxwell and their team who provided refreshments, sorted out endless piles of music and publicised this hugely sucessful event.