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By echo choir 10 Aug, 2017

It was almost a year to the day since we had last performed at Sounds Sublime   2016 . On that occasion, our group made up the current Genesis Sixteen  cohort; this time, we were delighted to be invited back to the festival with the same work ethic and group chemistry, only under a new name - echo

The day began, as any productive musical day should, with tea, biscuits, and a much-needed catch-up! As we all currently live in various parts of the UK (Edinburgh, London, Norwich and Bristol to name but a few), we always have so much to talk about when we reunite for concerts. Nevertheless, we also had a fair few pieces to prepare, and so the chit-chat was soon replaced with siren sounds, lip trills, and other strange warm-up exercises.

One of the many things I love about singing with  echo  is that each project challenges me in different ways. We are always look to add new music to our repertoire, such as Howard Skempton ’s   The  Flight of Song , complete with graphic score, yet also performing more familiar music in a fresh way. One of my favourite pieces for this project was the divine ‘Music dei donum’ by Orlando Lassus. It’s an expressively subtle yet sonorous piece, where I think the biggest task is to help the audience indulge in its sound-world without seeming to wallow in it. 

As always, the rehearsal flew by, and it was then time for us to travel to Central London for our first performance – a pop-up set at the National Gallery . Here we were based in Room 32, where amongst other pieces, we sang Bernard Rose's ´╗┐Feast Song  for St Cecilia , the patron saint of music, whose portrait by Pietro  da Cortona  hung proudly upon the wall across from us.  We drew a large and enthusiastic crowd, who were even willing to get involved with our performance of the folk song ‘ Pretty Little Horses ’! 

Next up was our joint evening concert with the London International Gospel Choir  at St Clement Danes on the Strand. Fresh from their appearance on BBC1’s Pitch Battle, the LIGC gave a fantastic performance, where we couldn’t resist joining in with their rendition of the 90s hit ‘Shackles’! The overall theme of this joint concert was ‘ Music Celebrating Music’ , and so we presented the audience with equally joyous pieces by the likes of Monteverdi, Purcell, Byrd, Palestrina and Part. There truly was something for everyone in this concert, and we got some great feedback from the audience afterwards. 

Just as the day began with a drink, so it ended with another... of the alcoholic variety! We’d had a fantastic day, and couldn't wait to discuss plans for our next venture, echo presents: EXILE . Bring on September!


Written by Lindsey James

By echo choir 02 Aug, 2017
As the Genesis Sixteen scheme enters it's seventh year, under the outstanding guidance of The Sixteen’s Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan , it continues to deliver fantastic opportunities to more aspiring young singers and conductors. It was the fifth Genesis Sixteen 2015-2016 that provided the meeting place of echo . In July 2016, our year in the scheme came to an end; and it was clear that we had established a very special bond as an ensemble, both musically and socially. While other commitments meant that unfortunately some of our group were not able to join us for the following year, the majority of us were determined to continue to perform together. And so echo was formed, a name grounded in part from our dedication to maintain and reiterate the calibre of music-making achieved during our year as Genesis Sixteen.

Our first two concerts officially as echo : ' World's End ' at Hanbury Hall in London and ' Innocence ' at St. George's Church, Edgbaston, Birmingham, set the mould for our central focus as a group, a concert format we've named the echo PRESENTS series . These concerts, of which we hope to present around three per year, use a particular theme to draw pieces together from wide ranging time periods as well as musical genres into coherent and programmatic concert narratives. This sprang from the creative vision of our Artistic Director Sarah Latto , and has now developed into a concert structure that defines our intention and motivations as an ensemble. The next of these will be echo PRESENTS: EXILE on the 22nd and 23rd September 2017 (for more info and to buy tickets, please click here ).

July 2017 was a particularly exciting month for us. It began with an appearance at The Sixteen's Sounds Sublime festival on 8th July, alongside the Genesis Sixteen 2016-17 and the London International Gospel Choir at St Clement Danes Church. The following week, we performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra  and Magnus Lindberg  in an evening showcasing the works of four young composers at St John's, Smith Square. This concert, entitled Debut Sounds: New Music , presented the new works interspersed with some choral works by Henry Purcell and newly appointed LPO Future Firsts composition mentor James MacMillan . As an ensemble, echo have a particular attachment to James MacMillan’s music through his close relationship with The Sixteen , as well as having performed at the Cumnock Tryst in September 2016, a classical music festival set up by the composer in his hometown in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Looking ahead to December and beyond, there is plenty in the pipeline that we can't wait to announce. To find out more, you'll just have to sign up to our Newsletter (at the bottom of the page) and keep your eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages!

We couldn’t have hoped for a better first year as a new ensemble. We were lucky enough to be brought together during our time as the Genesis Sixteen 2015-16 , thanks to the wonderful generosity of the Genesis Foundation , which allowed us to take our first steps as echo . With the standard of music-making that the scheme both attracts and nurtures being so high, there are countless success stories of the scheme's alumni. We hope to add to this musical legacy, and continue to develop as an ensemble for many more years to come.

Written by Sam Cobb

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