Thanks to those who have replied so promptly to the Muzodo email that I sent yesterday, it is most helpful. At the moment everything is on target for the resumption of rehearsal, hopefully detailed guidance and regulation will come out during the coming week.
I am looking forward to singing to a congregation on Thursday (AscensionDay) as the Loveden Quartet sing a Eucharist in Hougham Church. We have been rehearsing in Susie Mathieson’s barn since the beginning of April; several lovely, warm sessions then a few wrapped up like Eskimos! It will be a momentous occasion.
Something new for you to look at this week. The Rose is a beautiful song that more than one of you has suggested. I couldn’t find a suitable “published” arrangement so I have done one myself. Here is a score and some audio tracks so that you can learn it for when we meet on 21st May. I hope that you enjoy it.
At the time of writing we are still on target for the resumption of Amateur Music Making after 17th May.
We are planning meet up to eight times in Woodborough Village Hall through May, June and July. Thanks to Cathy for setting it up for us. Here are the dates:
21st May, 28th May
11th June, 18th June, 25th June
2nd July, 9th July, 16th July
If past performance is anything to go by guidance ad regulations will not appear until after 10th May. My research amongst the choral community suggests that conditions will be the same or similar to those under which we operated at Christmas. i.e. shortened rehearsals (8:00-9:00) with social distancing and no mingling. I will keep you updated. My hat is raised to those at the Association of British Choral Directors and Making Music for all they do to keep us all informed.
Today is Good Friday, the second one with social restrictions in place; I hope that those who find it significant find a suitable way to observe it and Easter.
For that reason I am turning to God So Loved the World for this week’s singing. We learned at the last choir zoom that Crucifixion is a special work one of our members. It is also special for me. John Stainer was the first organist of St. Michaels’ College, Tenbury (where I was baptised; my parents were married and my grandparents buried). I conducted God So Loved the World as an audition for my first successful conducting post and have sung in the chorus, sung solos, accompanied it and conducted it.
We did look at it last year, but only in respect of tuning. Since then we have done a lot of technical work so we can try to put it all together. Before watching the rehearsal video you might want to revise Technical Work Sound especially the WITCHYOPERANAUT bit from 5′ 55”.
This is the performance that we used last time; there is also a good one in Tenebrae’s Holy Week Festival (32’30”). (You might find this useful as a Good Friday meditation, but the adverts are irritating!)
It was good to see so many of you at the Zoom meeting last week. Many thanks to Rhoda for organising the Inheritance Tracks, it was an intriguing and informative session.
We talked about resuming. In all this we have to assume that the “Roadmap” goes according to plan. A daytime outdoor session will be arranged at Cathy’s in mid-April then we will commence indoor rehearsal on 24th May in Woodborough Village Hall. We also discussed Christmas. Our concert is planned to be at Newstead Abbey on 12th December and we will be the choir at Long Bennington Church’s Carol Service on the afternoon (c. 3:30/4:00) of 18th December.We didn’t mention Stathern, who have asked us for a concert on either 2nd or 9th October. All these dates are on the Calendar page of the website. I will be sending out a Muzodo for us to confirm availability when we get closer to resumption and we get more idea of what life will be like as restrictions are eased – I know that some of you will be keen to resume travelling. (We have booked to take our caravan out on 12th April).
Something for you to learn this week. Confined to home my creative juices have been flowing (I have used a whole kitchen roll wiping them up!); an arrangement of Shine on, Harvest Moon is one of the results. It would be great if we could learn it to perform in the Stathern concert in October. Most of my recent arrangements have been in just four parts as I have wanted to use them with the Loveden Quartet as well. Shine on, Harvest Moon is in six parts and is a bit more ambitious, I hope that we like it. Here is a score (13 pages) and audio files for you to work with.
We think of David this week as he has his operation.
I hope that you have had a good week; most of us are probably vaccinated by now. Thanks to those who have replied concerning Christmas. Newstead Abbey Singers have us in their diary for 12th December.
There is a choir zoom meeting this Friday, 12th March; you will be sent the invitation separately. A reminder that that if you have Inheritance Tracks to send to Rhoda to do it soon.
In this this week’s Technical Work we are looking at Expanding the Range. This Technical Work series is devised for both you and Southwell Choral Society: this one is based on their repertoire. Most of you will have sung Messiah so, hopefully, you will be able to access it. There are are two videos from me for you to work through and a video of a performance, that is not too fast, for you to sing along with. For those of you unfamiliar with Messiah there are also audio tracks for you to work on the notes and the music if you haven’t got your own copy of Messiah.
We should be fairly comfortable with our voices now. So far we have not gone out of a comfortable range for for most voices. Choral compositions and arrangements will have some notes out of our comfort zone. If your voice is healthy it will have a natural range of about an octave and a half – 12 or 13 white notes on a piano. The challenge is that in a choral setting the natural ranges of individuals will be different. Natural range is determined by individual physical attributes that can’t be changed. Training can only extend natural range by a few notes either way but it can make the extremities more accessible.
The advantage of a choir is that the combined natural range of a section will be wider than any individual’s. Sopranos and tenors should be able to sing from D – AI comfortably, some pieces have Bb or B and sometimes a C for sopranos, but that is usually optional. Interestingly altos and basses need to have wider ranges. Altos should be able to go from G below middle C up to top line E with an occasional F. Basses need a full two octaves from E to E plus occasional Ds at one end and Fs at the other.
We have a slightly clearer view of the way back to singing together. At the moment it looks as if 17th May is the first possible date for amateur rehearsals to resume.
Let’s hope that everyone behaves and we meet the criteria, it looks unlikely after this weekend’s behaviour after the sun came out!
Your committee met last week after the road map was announced and correspondence over Christmas events. We have been in contact with Newstead Abbey regarding our concert. Jo Hunt, who has been our contact , has retired so there are new people in post. They can’t accommodate us on the weekend of 18th/19th December as we requested because of the Craft Fairs but are willing for us to have our concert on Sunday, 12th December. It is a little earlier that we would like but is our only possibility if we want to perform at Newstead.
Long Bennington Church have asked us if we would be the choir at their Carol Service on the afternoon of Saturday, 18th December (3:30/4:00 pm). It would involve us in singing several carols on our own and supporting a good number of congregational carols. Please forward comments to me, Rhoda, Mary, Cathy or Ellie.
Rhoda reports the receipt of several interesting inheritance tracks which we will enjoy when we have our zoom meeting on 12th March. There is still time to send in.
This week we are looking at Ken Burton’s arrangement of Steal Away (Feel the Spirit page 23). If you need to revise notes here are some audio tracks.
I have not been able to find any recordings of this arrangement but here are a couple of performances by Ken Burton’s Choir The London Adventist Chorale – the arrangement of Great Getting-Up Morningthat we sing (look at the posture and mouths!) and a recent, lockdown, recording of Rest (because I like it!). You can use these recordings to see the sound and style that we should be aiming for.
Before watching the rehearsal video please revise the Technical Work which deals with the words.
Steal Away. Steal Away. Steal Away to Jesus. Steal Away. Steal Away home.I ain’t got long to stay here.
My Lord, he calls me. He calls me by the thunder. The trumpet sounds within-a my soul. I ain’t got long to stay here.
Green trees are bending.Poor sinners stand a-trembling. The trumpet sounds within-a my soul. I ain’t got long to stay here.
Steal Away. Steal Away. Steal Away to Jesus. Steal Away. Steal Away home.I ain’t got long to stay here.
The singer is expressing a feeling of being called to heaven, a better existence than life on earth. It also contains a coded message to slaves to run away. The chorus and verse have contrasting moods and is a very emotional song.
We wait with bated breath for the Prime Minister’s “Road Map” tomorrow hoping that he will illuminate the end of the tunnel a little – fingers crossed.
As promised last time we are looking into The Glory of Love in some more detail. There is a tendency to take light, “pop” music for granted and think that we just have to “sing it” because it is is a bit “beneath us”. (I can certainly be guilty sometimes). With more attention to detail with our sound and on the lyrics we can enhance the experience both for us and our audience.
Thanks to those who attended the Choir Zoom meeting on Friday. It was good to see everyone and to catch up on news of families, vaccinations and things in general. We talked about possible new repertoire. Here are recordings of some of the suggestions:
In honour of St. Valentine’s weekend we are looking at The Glory of Love. The Dukeries Singers introduced us to this when we combined with them last year; it is an arrangement that is not demanding but goes down well with audiences.
Here is a performance of the Jay Althouse arrangement by an amateur American choir for you to listen to critically. This choir is not as proficient as us but there are lots of good points including diction and clarity. It is interesting how “English” they are with their diction, especially in the verses. What have we got to do to avoid collapsing into the ends of verses and to successfully manage the ending? I’ll make some suggestions next time.
We will have choir zoom meeting this coming Friday, 12th February at 8:00.
Thanks to those of you who have risen to the challenge of creating new verses to Roll the old chariot along. I’ll be collating the offerings this week and doing something with them – it’s not too late to make a contribution.
Congratulations and best wishes to Rhoda who “retired” last week.
Keep safe and warm through storm Darcy this coming week and I’ll “see” you on Friday.
January is behind us and we go into February in good heart. I know that some of you have either had, or have booked, the first vaccination, which is good news.
Have a look at Hosanna to the Son of David this week. It is in The Oxford Book of Tudor Anthems on page 113. We will examine it in detail next time. I have selected three recordings for you to listen to and compare.The Oxford Camerata is a brisk performance where excitement is generated mainly by the pace. Salisbury Cathedral Choir’s interpretation is a little bit slower and has a slightly detached rhythmic precision. The final one, included for local interest, is a version recorded by Nottingham Cathedral Choir during the first lockdown and before Alex Patterson left for Salford. (You may recognise someone on the bottom row).
For those of you who need to revise the notes here are some learning tracks:
These tracks up a semi-tone in the key that we sing them in.
Over the past week or so sea shanties have been in the news. There is one, Roll the old chariot along, at the end of the video. If anyone wishes to make up a verse or two please send them to me. You could record it or just send me the words and I’ll record it – above all have fun!