Hooray!

At last it seems that we will be allowed to resume singing, indoors at our regular venues in September. We have to wait until the Performing Arts guidance from the DCMS is published to see whether there is a “sting in the tail” but I think we will be fine.

A massive vote of thanks is due to Cathy and John Charles-Jones for gifting us the use of Woodborough Park to enable us to to meet and sing together through this difficult time. Thanks to all of you for your cheery tolerance of the unique circumstances of the past year and a half.

There are two more Fridays left of the current session. Friday, 16th July will be a Singers Request evening in which you will chose the pieces from the current repertoire that we sing. You can either tell me in advance or wait until the spur of the moment. Those of you not able to be there can chose as well – just send me a message. It will be recorded and sent out as a sort of informal concert.

All things being equal the first rehearsal of next season will be on 10th September; the venue will be confirmed nearer the time. The plan is to rotate between the Carnarvon Rooms, Burton Joyce and The Institute, Woodborough (as before).

Last week’s rehearsal was very successful. It was pleasing to have such a good turnout – very good to see Jane. Once again I positioned the camera in an inappropriate place – it was too close to John H and Ellie. The video is worth watching, especially for the pronunciation of the Abenlied text.

Here are some notes:

Nada te turbeNicely together but lost pitch. Make sure ascending intervals go far enough and descending ones don’t go too far. Keep the air flowing.
Ave verumBars 13/14 still need keeping together. Worked on crescendo and diminuendo at same rate. Esto nobis very good ensemble.
AbendliedWent over pronunciation. Pitch held better in this. Work on unifying vowel sounds.
Hosanna to the Son of DavidOne or two timing problems initially – keep quavers steady. There was a tendency to oversing at times. Much improved on last time.
Harvest MoonA satisfactory first go.
The RoseGood on the whole; just needs a bit of tidying up on the key changes. Very good soprano blend in first verse. Words need to be clearer.
Goin’ HomeSing through to finish.

I’m afraid that the video of 25th June managed to record in very slow motion so is useless, sorry. I’ll just about get the hang of it by next week. I’ve found the rehearsal videos very useful so will keep doing them from September; perhaps not every week but regularly.

Gratifying

Thanks for a very good rehearsal last week. It is gratifying as a director when the choir take on board what is said and carry it out. Last Friday’s rehearsal was a lot more efficient and we didn’t stop once for not being together. It resulted in a better sound and tuning. There is a video from the session but I am having difficulty in downloading it; when I’ve solved the problem I’ll send it out.

We did the whole rehearsal in the grain store with the door open – it was a very resonant acoustic.

The forecast for Friday evening is good so we’ll assess the situation at the time.

Here is a review of last week’s session:

The Crown of RosesWell together. Diction improved. Worked on endings of phrases.
SerenadeMuch better than last week. Better together and more confident in the notes. Transition into Eb minor needs more work.
AbendliedSome beautiful singing and well paced ensemble. You seem to love this piece. 2nd tenor a bit ropey from time to time! Need to revise pronunciation with JH next time.
Love is the sweetest thingAnother one improved from last week. Notes more accurate. Worked on the whole piece.
Orpheus with his luteSung through then worked on junction with the second section. Diction and dynamics need to be improved in this.
Put on the armourA sing through. Most of it remembered well. The ending needs revision.
Be thou my visionsung through without comment
The Glory of Lovesung through without comment

We have three more sessions before breaking for the Summer. Let’s try and make best use of them.

Brrrrr . . . .it was chilly!

Thanks to everyone for their efforts last week. I couldn’t believe how cold it was for the middle of June. It was a difficult rehearsal in exceptional circumstances. For those who weren’t there: we started in the usual space but it got so cold that we relocated to inside the barn, which was dark so it was difficult to see in.

Here is the video of the first part of the rehearsal – I didn’t move the camera for the second part. To be honest it is not a very good rehearsal, mainly because of the conditions, but we can learn a lot by listening when we are not up to standard. Having said that there are some good moments. When we moved into the barn we sang Abendleid,Steal Away and Love is the sweetest thing.

I have noticed that in recent rehearsals that usually the first “stop” in a piece is after a few bars because we are not together. We have been able to attribute that to the unusual conditions but we are sufficiently proficient and have now had enough time to be able to adjust. It means that I have to give you a better lead and that you have to anticipate the tempo before we start – let’s work on that this week.

The last couple of rehearsals have not been very efficient – last week I edited out over 10 minutes of music searching time. You have had the music list in advance so you could have it all together so that you don’t have to search your bag each time. I will help you by announcing a proposed order at the beginning of the rehearsal so that once we start we can spend more time singing and less time searching.

The weather forecast is for warmer temperatures this week.

Getting better!

Thanks to those who came to rehearse last week – it was a good session. Here is a recording of the session mainly for those who didn’t attend.

After Monday’s disappointing, but not surprising, announcement of a delay to the next stage of the road map we will continue to rehearse at Woodborough Park until we break for the Summer on 16th July. Also in the light of the delay we will probably have to rethink the plan that we had to make the final session on 16th July a little bit of a celebration.

Many thanks also to those who have indicated their availability for the potential concert at Stathern in October. Based on those responses and the shortage of rehearsal time we will postpone until Spring next year.

Here are my notes on Friday’s rehearsal.

We thought about diction and singing together, both of which were improved at times during the evening. One of the benefits on recording the rehearsal is that we can then review it. On this occasion I noticed that some of the points made during the rehearsal weren’t carried through into the summary run through. This is something I ought to address. We also noted that most of the pieces were in Eb!

This is my Father’s World: The diction was much improved to start with but wasn’t maintained. Observe all commas. We checked the harmony notes and other awkward moments. Crescendo into the key change into E major.

Ave verum: We concentrated on singing together, which is more difficult when we are socially distanced. There was some very good singing during this. Keep the air flowing through to the ends of the phrases. When we sang it through it wasn’t as well together as rehearsed.

The Rose: We are getting quite good at this now. Beware of singing too quietly. The Eb section wasn’t so well together and the key change back into Ab still needs work.

Fly me to the moon: A sing through, a bit rough around the edges so it will need some revision.

Happy Eyes: A relaxed sing through to end the rehearsal, went well.

We have five more Fridays at Woodborough Park. Now that we are getting used to it and have our voices back we’ll try and get more quality into our singing.

Small, but beautifully formed

It was a small, but select group of us who met at Woodborough Park on 28th May; we had a good time and although the singing was a bit rough around the edges we did some useful work. Thanks to Cathy (and John) for making the space available to us in their absence.

Since then Vicky and I have taken our caravan down to the Cotswolds for a few days, which is why you haven’t heard from me recently. While we were there we called on Stella and Richard Cowmeadow and spent three hours over afternoon tea and a catch up. They send their regards to everyone.

We meet again this Friday, 11th June at Woodborough Park. Arrive from 7:30 to sing at 7:45. A few more people are expected (11 or 12). The music will be selected from:

SheetThis is my Father’s World
SheetSerenade
FS 23Steal away
 FM 3Fly me to the moon
SheetThe Rose
SheetAve verum
OTA 113Hosanna to the Son of David

Here is a review of the 28th May rehearsal and a video of proceedings. Because of where I situated the camera the microphone was a bit too close to John H. so it sounds as if he is singing on his own from time to time – I apologise to him. Considering the low numbers the sound is remarkably good generally. Ensemble is ragged, largely because of the spacing. On viewing this I was struck by a sense of enjoyment during the session – lots of smiles, laughter and healthy banter.

Following comments from the previous rehearsal we concentrated on improving diction in the pieces that we are most familiar with.

Crown of roses: we sang this twice, focussing on diction the second time. It stayed nicely in pitch. We did discuss the possible reasons in a section of the rehearsal that is cut from the video. We drew no conclusions but the smaller numbers, the layout and the acoustic may have been contributory factors.

The Rose: we did quite a lot of work on this and made good progress. It would be appreciated if those not present did some homework so that you are up to speed when you return.In that great gettin’ up morning: This was a bit rusty and will need a bit of revision over the next few weeks.

Ave verum (Saint-Saens): Apart from the unexpected accidentals at the start of page 2 this had some of the best ensemble and balance of the evening. It’s such a nice piece to sing and listen to.

Happy Eyes: this went well and maintained pitch even though the ensemble was ragged

Going Home: this was a good end to the evening with some very good singing and better ensemble.

Lots of areas to improve but well done the Magnificient Seven.

We did it!

I hope that you enjoyed last Friday as much as I did; it was relatively comfortable despite the rain and the acoustic was surprisingly friendly. It sounded as though the sheep enjoyed it. Here is a recording of the rehearsal for those that didn’t attend to see what we got up to. I would appreciate feedback – it is all different to me as well. What worked well? What improvements can we make? Any thoughts on repertoire? etc.

We go again this Friday with slightly fewer sopranos. Cathy will be away but they have kindly given us access to the space and a key to the barn. Music for this week is:

Great getting up morning
The Rose
Ave verum (Saint Saens)
Happy Eyes
The Crown of Roses
This is my Father’s World
Goin’ Home

A few notes from last week’s session. The advantage of recording the rehearsal is that we can all review it and note how good it was and how we can make it even better.

Overall the sound was remarkably good seeing that we hadn’t met for such a long time. Some of you had obviously kept your voices in trim pretty well. Well done.

God so loved the world: there was good attention to the dynamics and it kept pitch well. Keep energy and air flow to the ends of phrases. Don’t skip over little notes. We need to work on the vowel sound on “world”.

Sicut cervus: this highlighted the need to listen to others (a challenge with social distancing) as well as watching to keep together. The phrases need more shape.

The Rose: we onlly sight-read this; it went quite well. This week we will learn the second half.

Be thou my vision: I need to practise the piano part! Just a sing through, the second verse needs aome attention.

The Glory of Love: some great sounds. There needs to be a bit more sense of style and the ensemble on needs to be tighter.

See you all soon.

Back to Singing!

I am really looking forward to making music with some of you on Friday evening. Arrive from 7:30 to sing from 7:45 – 8:30.

The weather looks very uncertain; we will sing in the most sheltered place that we can with a roof and at least one solid side. Drive up to the farm buildings where someone will direct you where to park. Chairs will be provided but you might want to bring your own. Dress warm and bring a music stand if you want. There is a toilet for use in extremis only – it is down at the house and is “private”.

The following are expected:

Ellie, Cathy, Mary, Rhoda; Vicky, Marguerite; Renwick; John P, John H

(Please let me know if you change your mind)

We will sing the following music:

SheetNada te turbe
ESM 270Sicut cervus
SheetGod so loved the world
SheetHappy Eyes
SheetThe Rose
SheetBe thou my vision
SheetThe Glory of Love
Not necessarily in that order

For those of you who don’t know where you are going:

Woodborough Park, off Foxwood Lane, WOODBOROUGH, NG14 6ED

MAP

Let’s hope for good weather and that it all goes smoothly.

The Rose

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.

Full
Soprano
Alto
Tenor
Bass

Just thought I would forward this on to you should you be interested.
https://www.theselfisolationchoir.com/prince-philip

This is my Father’s World

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.

This week’s singing is This is my Father’s World.

Here is an information sheet, a performance and a rehearsal:


Have fun.

Gibraltar Point

Happy Easter

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!)

Here is the rehearsal video and an information sheet – in addition to your copy of God So Loved the World you will need a drinking vessel and a straw!

We will have another choir zoom meeting next Friday, 9th April when we might have further clarification about restarting. Rhoda will probably be in touch regarding the “entertainment”.

HAPPY EASTER TO YOU ALL.

Stabat Mater