Foreign Tours

Singers from Oriana and Diatonic regularly join together for foreign tours.

In recent years, this has included Seville, Granada, Toledo, Salamanca, Rouen, Koblenz & Prague.

Here are reviews of some of our foreign concerts.

NORMANDY - 2012

Review by Donald Hollins

Local chamber choir, The Oriana Singers, recently undertook a short tour in Normandy. As on previous tours they were joined by the Diatonic Chamber Choir from Warwick and their conductor Bernard Sutton shared the conducting with Oriana's own David Moss.

We arrived in the coach at Portsmouth in a cloud-burst and scurried to our tiny cabins to fight over who was to sleep in the top bunk. Soft music awoke us at 5.30am and, bleary eyed, we journeyed to find breakfast in Caen prior to a fascinating visit to view the famous Tapestry in Bayeux. Then it was on to our modest but central hotel base in Rouen. 

The following morning, quite refreshed, we visited Monet's famous garden at Giveny, which was awash with tulips, late-flowering daffodils, primroses and budding peonies. The famous arched bridge was the scene of endless photographs. The first concert of the tour ws held in St NIcholas's Church in the small town of Beaumont-le-Roger, which is twinned with Wotton-under Edge, home of several of Oriana's members. We all received a right royal welcome and a good meal before the amalgamated choirs earned a standing ovation at the end of the concert which had included works by Byrd, Tallis, Parry, Vaugham Williams and Durufle.

Next morning it was off to the coastal resort of Fecamp where we toured the ornately decorated Benedictine Distillery and lubricated our throats with small complementary glasses of this fiery liquor. Another concert was held in the evening at the church of St Etienne in Fecamp where, at the conclusion, another standing ovation was received. The programme included works by Poulenc and Durufle, and like the previous concert, ended on a lighter note with pieces such as 'Over Hill, Over Dale', 'Greensleeves', and 'Full Fathom Five'.

The penultimate day enabled the party to relax and enjoy a walking tour of Rouen, which took us into narrow medieval streets and passageways with overhanging first floors to the timber-framed houses. 

Sunday, the final day, was surely the highlight of the tour with the choirs participating in Mass in the Cathedral. Palestrina's hauntingly beautiful 'Missa Aeterna Christi Munera' was sung reverently and movingly. Later in the day it was time to board our coach, take the ferry back to Portsmouth and then speed through the night into the small hours before reaching home. 

The healthy condition of the English choral tradition had been firmly demonstrated in one of France's great cathedrals and two of its fine churches.


SPAIN - 2008

In February 2008 the Oriana Singers travelled to Southern Spain to perform in Seville and Granada. This was a joint venture with the Diatonic Chamber Choir from Warwick, a choir which David Moss established in the 1980's. 

Their concert programme started with a concert of English, French and Spanish music in the Circulo Mercantil in Seville. The next day, the 1st Sunday of Lent, they sang four motets at a celebration of the Mass in the Capilla Real in Seville Cathedral. After a day's sightseeing in Seville, the choir travelled on to Granada, passing through Cordoba to see the amazing mosque with its implanted cathedral.

The following day was occupied by a group tour of the Alhambra, and in the evening the choir performed in the opulent Basilica of La Senora de las Angustias. During the Mass, they sang motets from the high organ loft at the rear of the church (reached by a lift!) and then descended to sing their concert of English and Spanish music from the chancel steps.

Spain 2010 - Salamanca, Avila and Toledo

May 31st, Bank Holiday Monday and after a month of worry about volcanic ash and British Airways strikes, 34 singers from the Diatonic Chamber Choir of Warwick and the Dursley-based Oriana Singers set off on an 8 day tour of Salamanca, Avila and Toledo.

Salamanca
Salamanca is an ancient, red brick university city and it was Arts Week while we were there. As well as many imposing University buildings, the city boasts 2 large medieval Cathedrals built side by side. The wall paintings and larger than life statues in the museum of the old Cathedral make it a most remarkable historic building. Our concert was in the large church of San Benito, where we were received most gracefully and enthusiastically. Local choir masters where very impressed with our interpretation of Victoria’s “Dum Complerentur”.

We enjoyed a happy post-concert beer in the huge Plaza Mayor watching trapeze artists dancing and leaping in lights and music as the sun went down over the figures on top of the Town Hall.

Avila
We soaked up the heat of Avila as we walked around the ancient walls watching a thousand swooping swifts, darting into cracks in the walls where chicks quickly snatched insects in the split second it took to land and take off again. Thankfully, we rested at teatime in the monastery of Santo Tomas, enjoying the shady, quiet cloisters before giving the same concert to a large appreciative Avila audience.

Toledo
Our next stop was Toledo, where our hotel was at the foot of the ancient town, dominated by the Alcazar and huge cathedral. Fortunately escalators carried us up to the narrow streets of this medieval town, full of churches, tiny squares and bars and where, unfortunately, the house of El Greco was closed for restoration. Many other churches have fine samples of his work though, and the Cathedral Sacristy has an incredible collection of paintings by Caravaggio, Velazquez, Titian, Rubens and many fine El Grecos.

Alcala
The whole town was richly decorated for Corpus Christi, the main celebration in Toledo, and our evenings were spent watching flamenco, parades, fireworks and bull chasing – where, thankfully, the bulls survived.

We travelled 60 miles to Alcala de Henares, the quaint, pedestrianised centre is a World Heritage site as it is the birthplace of Cervantes, author of Don Quijote. Our concert in the Cathedral Magestral received a standing ovation and we had to provide encores in front of the bishop, who, instead of staying for 10 minutes as originally planned, stayed to watch the whole programme.

Toledo
On Sunday, our final engagement was in Toledo at the celebration of Mass in the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes. The Byrd Mass was perfect for this setting and after the service, Carlos, the priest, took us on a conducted tour of the monastery where 8 monks live in peaceful splendour.

A meal nearby that evening proved a fitting conclusion to a week of unusually high temperatures. We had plenty of time for sightseeing. Some intrepid travellers hired a car and headed into the Gredos mountains to hike and enjoy the flowers. Others braved the Spanish railway system and took a train to Madrid to visit the glories of the Prado Art Gallery. Everyone experienced Spain in their own way, a country that rarely disappoints, often amazes us and never fails to provide interest, enthusiasm and delight