Ahead of Royal Holloway University’s London Concert next week at Shoreditch Town Hall, we caught up with Rupert Gough, our Director of Choirs, to find out more about what treats lie in store for those who attend.
Rupert Gough, conducting the Royal Holloway choir.
Please tell us who you are, and what your involvement is in Royal Holloway’s annual London Concert?
My name is Rupert Gough and I direct the choirs at Royal Holloway. There are several items in this programme featuring the choir with and without orchestra, as well as a guest appearance from a former choral scholar and I am looking forward to conducting these items.
What’s your favourite part of your role in the concert? Last year, the concert couldn’t take place because of the pandemic. Are you excited to be back for 2022? Does it feel even more exciting than usual?
I always love working with musicians in the context of live performance. We have been busy through the pandemic – including actually making a recording with the London Mozart Players. Recording is a great discipline but there is an atmosphere to a live concert performance which is irreplaceable. I enjoy letting the moment dictate exactly how the music should go and that is the beauty of musical performance: no performance is ever the same.
The theme of the concert this year is ‘Youth and Culture’. Could you tell us a bit about that, and why it’s important to celebrate?
Well my job encompasses youth and culture – I have a 24 young singers eager for musical inspiration and knowledge and the work we do enriches the cultural life of those around us through performance. I am also passionate about encouraging new music and young composers. I am pleased to be able to perform music this evening by some rising stars from the UK and US choral music scene.
Do you have a favourite piece from this year’s programme? What is it and why?
I love Toby Young’s piece ‘Love and Harmony’. We performed this piece first in 2015 for the Presteigne Music Festival and my singers felt an immediate connection with the text and music. The music is urgent and has its roots in pop as well as classical music, and William Blake’s text speaks of both individuality and unity in ‘Love and Harmony’ and I think we can all really resonate with this. As a choir, everything is about the importance of individual voices but, above all, it is the combining effect of the sum of these parts to create a unified sound.
What do you hope an audience member at the concert will experience?
Concert performance can all too often seem to be a rather too serious affair. I want our music to be as approachable as possible and for people to see and experience the joy that our choral scholars have singing this music.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about?
Yes - a further important point is that I am pleased to welcome back Hilary Cronin as a soloist. Hilary was a choral scholar a decade ago and we are very proud that she has just won a major singing competition in London. It has been a pleasure to follow Hilary’s career development, and also to help; she is one of my regular singers at the church of St. Bartholomew the Great where I am also Director of Music. At that church many former Holloway singers and current choral scholars combine to sing for worship. I am delighted to be conducting Hilary and the London Mozart Players in one of Mozart’s more frivolous pieces of soprano writing.
The Royal Holloway London Concert takes place next week on the 2nd February 2022, 7.30pm, at Shoreditch Town Hall. For more information and ticket sales, please click here.