St Paul’s Choir was formed in 1995 with the aim of leading the hymn-singing at the weekly Sung Eucharist and, in due course, introducing new carols,
or different settings of traditional carols, at the Ecumenical Christmas Service. The first participants were drawn from members of the congregation who expressed an interest in joining and for twelve years we were led by a very able semi-professional singer/conductor, Clive D’Eath.
Then unfortunately both our conductor and our organist had to move away from Monaco at about the same time and we went through a period of uncertainty
for several months. However, by the start of 2008, a new organist/choirmaster was installed. Gottfried Kappen revived our flagging spirits and brought musical discipline to our singing. In June of that year we were brave enough to take part in a concert with two other vocal ensembles, singing works by Monteverdi and Purcell and concluding with the Aaronic Blessing, the full choir singing a cappella. Gradually we gained confidence and, the following year, we produced excerpts from Bach’s “St John’s Passion” during the Palm Sunday service.
By this time we were regularly singing a motet or anthem during the Communion on Sundays and practising for a couple of hours on one weekday evening. Some time after Gottfried arrived I began drawing up a list of the music currently being prepared, mainly so that everyone would turn up at practice with the right scores! This idea soon developed into a full-scale schedule for six weeks at a time and we still follow this system today. I always make sure that adequate copies are available when we start a new work, or when we go back to a piece we haven’t sung for a while. Our repertoire is varied, encompassing work by contemporary composers, such as John Rutter and Sir Philip Ledger, and stretching back to Thomas Tallis.
We have been very fortunate in being able to call upon professional singers (mostly from the Nice Opera company) to supplement our efforts at special services – notably at Christmas and Easter – but also for weddings. Then, towards the end of 2015, the choir was given a great boost by the setting up of a choral scholarship. This led to the appointment of our tenor,
Drew Hopkins, who is extremely experienced in church music and, as a boy, won the Chorister of the Year award in the UK.
We always welcome new members; a background in liturgical music is useful but not essential, though it is important to be able to attend practices on Friday evenings as well as the weekly Sung Eucharist at 10.30 am on Sunday. We are enthusiastic and work hard, but do have short breaks over Christmas and after Easter plus a couple of months off in the summer.
Text by Patricia Cerrone