Music was a very large part of my life as a student and beyond, but has had to take somewhat of a back seat in more recent years as the pressures of having a “real job” (apologies to those proper musicians for whom their music is very much their real job) have taken hold. I still sing when I can, and we’re lucky in that we have a piano at home so Mrs T and I can make some music together when we have time. I have quite a wide taste in music, ranging from early plainchant, through Bach (absolute genius) to the romantic period (I’m slowly but surely discovering German romanticism in music), to the French music of the 20th Century (and many things in between).
Christ Church Cathedral
From 2006-2008 I worked as a baritone Lay Vicar Choral (posh title I know) at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. This choir is unique among the Cathedral choirs in Ireland and the UK in that it is a fully professional adult choir; there are no boy trebles, with the choir being made up of approximate 8 female sops, a countertenor, 3 female altos, 5 tenors, and 3 baritones (low basses being increasingly hard to come by these days). The choir is an interesting mix of nationalities, mainly Irish and English, but also with the odd American and even a Scandinavian! Repertoire covers everything from the 15th Century until the present day, and the nature of the choir allows a much wider and more complex repertoire to be covered than in many Cathedrals with boy choristers. The main Cathedral choir sings alongside the Cathedral Girls’ Choir, who sing services once a week with the Lay Vicars, and who join with the Cathedral Choir for special events.
In more recent years most of my singing has been with Commotio, who focus on performance of contemporary music, and which, as a group holds a very special place in my heart. The choir has made a number of significant recordings, most notably works by Francis Pott and Bob Chilcott, and has more than once reached number one in the specialist classical charts. The group’s live performances tend to be around the Oxford area, and are always a chance to hear an unusual repertoire, performed to the highest standards.
Singing stuff from my past (the nostalgia section)
I have undertaken solo roles in a number of operas with a touring company in Oxfordshire called “Opera Anywhere”, including Lord Dunmow in Lennox Berkeley’s The Dinner Engagement and Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
Oratorio performances have included Handel’s Messiah in Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, and Christ Church Southgate, London; Stainer’s Crucifixion, Brahms’ Requiem; a concert performance of Verdi’s Aida, and other works.
A particular speciality is the performance of German Lieder, and in past years I have given a number of recitals with Tristan Russcher (piano) in Christ Church Cathedral, and in Witney (Oxfordshire) of Lieder by Schumann, Schubert and Wolff. A real highlight (admittedly, it was back in 2007) was the opportunity to perform Schubert’s epic cycle Winterreise in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.
Another musical passion is consort performance of Renaissance music (and pre-Renaissance music). This often involves typesetting or editing the works. I use Sibelius to produce these new editions for performance. I also am often asked to typeset modern works and new commissions by the composers or commissioning bodies. If you are a composer and wish to have you work professionally typeset using Sibelius, then please contact me (paulmthomas @ googlemail dot com).