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Produced by publishers of The Popular Village Monthly

Readers with a good memory may recall an item 3 years ago which was a thank you from Moorland Voices, a Staffordshire Choir who toured South Africa over Easter 2017. Generous support from our local community helped ensure that all members of the choir, whose Musical Directors include John and Lynn Norcliffe from Gnosall, were able to travel. Highlights included a performance of Stainer’s Crucifixion in Grahamstown (now known as Makhanda) Cathedral. Here’s an update on the choir’s activities between that tour and this very different Easter.

In the intervening 3 years the choir has undertaken 21 performances with a wide and varying repertoire, including tours of Holland (in April 2018) and Norfolk (June 2019). In Norfolk we were thrilled to be invited to perform a concert of unaccompanied sacred music at the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, which was a beautiful experience. Whilst in Norfolk we also sang Bob Chilcott’s “Little Jazz Mass” at two stunning churches - Stiffkey and Holt - accompanied by our own jazz trio.

Other highlights have included a performance of the Mozart Requiem with orchestra in Stoke Minster (a joint venture with Cantiamo, a Stone-based choir), and our third Choral Workshop directed by Nigel Taylor (for many years head of Staffordshire Performing Arts) when, with around 100 guest singers from across the County and further afield, we learned and performed Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with harp accompaniment.

Most notably, last December we undertook our most ambitious musical venture so far - a performance of Handel’s Messiah (part one, the Christmas story), with four internationally renowned soloists. We are fortunate to have worked on a number of occasions with Denise Leigh (the blind Soprano who won “Operatunity”, who also sang at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics) and Yvonne Howard (a Stafford singer who’s a regular soloist with English National Opera and is now Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music). Denise used her powers of persuasion to engage Daniel Auchincloss (Tenor, Glyndebourne Opera) and Wyn Pencarreg (Bass, Welsh National Opera) as fellow soloists with a specially formed orchestra for a memorable performance in Trinity Church, Leek. 


More locally, we were delighted to be asked to provide the music for a wedding in St Lawrence Church last August. The bride and groom (Heather and Richard Millerin) had come along in December 2017 to hear Moorland Voices sing Christmas Carols at our annual appearance at the George and the Dragon pub on Gnosall High Street, and were so thrilled that they immediately booked us as the choir for their wedding. As a result of that engagement, we have two further wedding bookings for later this year, one at St Lawrence and another in Hodnet. We hope these will be able to go ahead as planned.

Finally, a date for your diary. Our 6th annual informal performance of Christmas Carols old and new at George and the Dragon is booked for Tuesday 8th December this year. Singing starts at 8pm and, as it’s become a traditional part of Gnosall’s Christmas, if you want a seat you’ll need to be there early! It will be so lovely to be able to get back to making music again. In the meantime, you can keep up with us at moorlandvoices.net.

Keep well and safe.


John & Lynn Norcliffe

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