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
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


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.


Just thought I would forward this on to you should you be interested.

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”.


Stabat Mater

The night was mighty dark

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.

Shine On – Full
Soprano 1
Soprano 2
Bass 1
Bass 2

We think of David this week as he has his operation.

Expand the Range

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.

You will need this sheet of Range Exercises.

Here is the Technical Work video ; the rehearsal of And the Glory of the Lord. and the performance by Brussels Choral.

Here is the score of And the Glory of the Lord and the audio tracks:


Looking forward to seeing you on Friday and listening to the Inheritance Tracks.

The trumpet sounds

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 Morning that 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.

Here is the rehearsal video.


We’ve got each others arms

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.

I suggest that you review the Sound Technical Work video, especially if you have forgotten the WITCHYOPERANAUT before you start. During the rehearsal I refer to certain brass playing/jazz techniques in relation to the first four bars of page 6;  these two short videos explain bowler hat and fall off. The Glory of Love rehearsal video.

One of the benefits of the current situation is that we can address things like this that we wouldn’t generally have time for.

Have fun.