Singers with King’s Lynn Festival Chorus have started rehearsing for the concert of a lifetime.
They will be performing in front of an expected audience of 2,000 at the Norfolk Showground arena in a rare and spectacular staging of the monumental 8th Symphony by Mahler.
The concert – on Saturday, May 21 at 8pm – is to mark the 175th anniversary of the Norwich Philarmonic Society and will form part of this year’s Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
King’s Lynn Festival Chorus secretary, Sue Stewart, said: “We started rehearsing last month and, at first, we were perhaps a bit dubious but now we are getting into it we realise it is such a fantastic work.
“It will stretch us as a choir, but that’s good and that’s the challenge. We have in the past performed to an audience of around 700, but never anything on this scale.
“We have about 90 members in the choir taking part and they will be on stage for the entire production.”
The Norwich Philarmonic Society website states: “The ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ is so-called because it is scored for a vast orchestra, multiple choirs, organ, off-stage band and eight solo singers.
“Indeed it is conceived on such a large scale that the huge indoor Royal Norfolk Showground arena is the only venue big enough to stage it, the first time an event of this kind has been held there.
“The Norfolk Showground arena will be especially transformed into a huge concert hall to create a powerful musical experience that will live long in the memory.”
In addition to the musicians of the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra, with Matthew Andrews as conductor, the concert will also involve other local orchestras, notably the Academy of St Thomas.
The choirs on stage will include Norwich Philharmonic Chorus, Norfolk & Norwich Festival Chorus, King’s Lynn Festival Chorus, Norwich Cathedral Choir and Sheringham & Cromer Choral Society ; the soloists will be Kirstin Sharpin (soprano) Katherine Broderick (soprano) Catherine May (soprano), Anne Marie Gibbons (mezzo-soprano), Anna Burford (mezzo-soprano), Peter Wedd (tenor), James Harrison( baritone) and Richard Wiegold (bass).
Mahler’s music is deeply personal, profound and with overtones of Wagner. Who can forget the opening and closing scenes of the movie Death in Venice that used music from another of his symphonies? Tickets are already on sale for the 2000 or so available seats. They can be purchased from the box office of the Theatre Royal in Norwich (01603 766400) and reports from the box office suggest that they are selling very well, or go to www.nnfestival.org.uk