Well, the concert on Tuesday 12 December certainly went well. A full house of over 90 had us scrambling to put extra seats out. And the music wasn’t half bad either, with the choir in good voice and Richard giving us a treat from the organ.
Were there aspects of our performance in which we could have done better? Oh, yes, as ever, and as ever that helps us collectively and individually to spot what we need to focus on before the next concert. And after all, we’ve got until Tuesday April 16 so we can’t plead lack of time!
We’ll be back in St Paul’s on 9 January at 7:30pm sharp for our first practice of the New Year. All welcome, so put into action that New Year resolution to finally join a choir and come and give it a whirl! You can contact us at email@example.com.
We’ve decided to save Haydn until March or April next year, although thanks to Cavendish Singers for being willing to lend us their copies of the scores. Must make sure to get them all back! As a result we’ve added Berlioz’s Shepherd’s Farewell and Warlock’s Bethlehem Down to our programme.
And we’re looking forward very much to singing again with our soloists Lucy Farrimond, soprano, and Armand Rabot, baritone.
Here we go again. Rehearsals for our December concert start on 5 September at St Paul’s as usual. Our provisional programme includes:
- Hodie Christus natus est – Sweenlick
- Virga Jesse – Bruckner
- Te Deum – Haydn
- In terra pax – Finzi
- Now may we singen – McDowall
- Lully, Lulla, Lullay – Stopford
- Glow – Whitacre
Our December concert featured Vaughan Williams ‘Fantasia on Christmas Carols, and Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. As planned, four shorter pieces completed the programme: The Snow by Elgar, O Radiant Dawn by Macmillan, In Dulci Jubilo by Pearsall, and O Magnum Mysterium, by Lauridsen. We decided that Finzi’s In Terra Pax would be a step too far, beautiful though it is.
Incidentally, we learnt from this concert, and our previous one in June 2022, that not having an interval and instead inviting people to join us for a drink and chat afterwards works very well, making for an even more sociable evening.
So, our focus now turns to Fauré’s much-loved Requiem (see our Next Performance page). We’ll be adding a few other items to it as well.
In the end our concert was in June 2022 rather than April but it was well worth waiting for and well-received. Our next one will be on Tuesday 6 December , with rehearsals starting at St Pauls on Tuesday 6 September. We haven’t decided the programme yet, but it will feature 20th century music with a festive dusting of earlier pieces. We’ll be rehearsing:
- Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Vaughan Williams
- In Terra Pax, Finzi
- Ceremony of Carols, Britten
And we’ll include a few shorter pieces that we’ve sung before:
- The Snow, Elgar
- O Radiant Dawn, Macmillan
- In Dulci Jubilo, Pearsall
- O Magnum Mysterium, Lauridsen
So, a variety of beautiful choral music to enjoy learning, rehearsing and performing.
At our recent AGM we decided to stage a concert in April. We hope that’ll mark a return to our usual three concerts a year. Like exams, concerts really concentrate the mind!
We also agreed on membership Subscriptions. It costs about £5,500 a year to cover fees for our Musical Director and our Accompanist, and for hiring the church.
Otherwise, since September between 12 and 20 of us have turned up in person for rehearsals, with about eight people Zooming in. We’ve been getting to know pieces by composers from several countries and a broad timespan:
- O Radiant Dawn, James MacMillan, Scotland (composed 2007)
- The Deer’s Cry, Arvo Pärt, Estonia (also 2007)
- Ching-A-Ring Chaw Aaron Copland, USA (1954)
- Gloria, Francis Poulenc, France (1961)
- The Snow, Edward Elgar, England (1894)
All of them except Gloria are short, so we’ve enjoyed swapping between them. We’re preparing the Gloria for the April concert, perhaps pairing it with Vivaldi’s very well-known Gloria, as we did in 2015! Once again it’ll be G.L.O.R.I.A. all the way!
And we’re back. In fact, we never went away, just retreated to Zoom. But for the last two weeks we’ve had rehearsals in person at St Paul’s with some members continuing to take part via Zoom.
We apply the Covid-secure procedures that we’ve all become familiar with. We encourage members to take lateral flow tests before they come to rehearsals – if they test negative that is! You can find our guidance and risk assessment here.
We’ve started back with the beautiful harmonies of Radiant Dawn by MacMillan and of The Snow by Elgar, and the tongue-twisting torture of Ching-a-ring Chaw by Copland. Now we’ve got a couple of weeks under our belts, Clara, our Musical Director, is going to come up with some ideas for what we should move on to.
We’re very grateful to our interim Musical Director, James Gillett, for keeping us up to the mark while we recruit a permanent director. And all the more so because he’s clearly got more than one string to his bow. On Friday 6 March he’ll conduct the Michael Haydn Orchestra in a concert entitled Jupiter 1788: Mozart in Vienna on the Brink of the Turkish War. Tickets are available on-line at www.m-hadyn.com.
First things first, though. Tonight James will guide us through several movements of the Rachmaninoff Vespers. We’ll also revise a couple of movements from the Mozart Vespers. So, we’ll certainly make full use of our extended rehearsal time.
The last two of our musical director auditions last night. Now there’ll be time for choir members to pitch in with their views before the selection panel finally decide.
Half term break next week, but we’ll extend rehearsals after that by half an hour to 9:30pm so that we can get to grips with the Rachmaninoff. There’ll be (only?) seven rehearsals left before the concert, but the scale and language of the Rachmaninoff, and the time we’ve spent on the Mozart during the auditions, demand extra rehearsal time from now on.
It’s a good job we’ve a Russian speaker in the choir! Looks like it’s going to be quite a challenge as it is, even though running through movements 1 and 6 last night gave us confidence that we’ll be up to it with a heap more coaching and our usual application.
24 January 2020
Well, 14 people applied to be our Musical Director! And it was such a strong field that our selection panel has shortlisted seven of them.
Each shortlisted applicants is auditioning by rehearsing sections of Mozart’s Solemn Vespers with us for about 45 minutes, as well as being interviewed by the panel. The first auditions were on 21 January, with further ones on 28 January and 4 February. The panel will invite Members of the choir to indicate their preferences. It will take these into account when it makes its decision, which it hopes to do by the end of February.
So, exciting times for us, with a new musical director in the offing. But more immediately, after the last audition we’ll move on to start rehearsing the Rachmaninov Vespers – in Russian, of course.
16 December 2019
We’re grateful for appreciative comments from the audience at our concert last Tuesday, which more than repaid all our work in rehearsal. As did the fact that almost 120 people braved exceptionally foul weather to come and hear us. Such an attendance enthused all of the musicians who took part. It also helped to keep our finances healthy to the tune of over £1000 which covered most of the costs of the concert.
And finally for 2019, Matthew Quinn’s parting message left us all with a warm glow:
What an emotional day the concert was for me and how fabulous it’s been to work with the choir even just for a short time. I really did thoroughly enjoy coming to each and every rehearsal, and found the choir to be one of the warmest and most welcoming I’ve ever had the pleasure to conduct. The choir and committee have made this term remarkably easy in the face of a lot of personal change for me. I was absolutely humbled by the amount of people who made a point of coming up to me after the concert and thanking me for this term. It really did make such an impression on me and it’s always extremely gratifying as a conductor to find that you’ve made even a little bit of difference. So thank you so much for the most delightful term. I hope this isn’t the end of our relationship and that our paths will cross again.
And thanks again from the whole choir, Matthew.
5 December 2019
We ran through the whole of the Durufle and Bach in our final rehearsal a couple of deays ago. It showed us that all our hard work has paid off and reinforced our confidence ahead of the concert. All that remains now is the final tune up with the soloists and ensemble immediately beforehand – and all of us remembering to bring the drinks and snacks that we’ll offer the audience at the interval.
Meanwhile, we’ve started getting applications for the role of musical director. In the New Year the committee will draw up a shortlist. That’ll keep’em busy on top of rehearsals from 7 January for the Mozart and Rachmaninov for our spring concert.
18 November 2019
In August our musical director, Matthew, got a job as an Assistant Content Producer with the BBC in his home city of Belfast. He’s commuted from Belfast to take Tuesday rehearsals this term, but it’s proved difficult. We’re grateful to him for giving it a go – and to James Gillett for standing in on several occasions. James has kindly agreed to stand in until we find a permanent replacement to start in May 2020. Details are here: Musical Director needed
We know you can’t keep a good ‘un down, as Matthew has shown. Even so, we’d like someone who’ll be able to commit to at least two years with us. And meanwhile, .
Meanwhile, with Matthew we’re heading into final rehearsals for our concert on 10 December, enjoying the contrast between Bach and Durufle. Here’s the Poster. The singing must go on!
And you can get tickets here: Tickets
15 October 2019
We come together to enjoy singing and to entertain our audiences. But alongside such things that we want to do there are some that we have to do, like hold annual general meetings. These give all members of the choir chance to find out about its operation and finances, and its plans and ambitions.
This year’s was no exception. About half of the choir turned up half an hour early before rehearsal on 8 October to hear the good news. Our membership and audience numbers, and our finances are all healthy. So, it’s back to the singing and practising to ensure another successful year.
1 October 2019
As summer memories and shorts fade, we’re back at it revving up for our Christmas concert. A couple more new members, in addition to several who joined earlier in the year, has given us a timely boost – – but we’ve always got room for more.
We’re now getting used to Matthew’s style as our new musical director. He’s carrying on the cheerful serious intent which characterised Aidan’s approach previously. It’s just up to us as a choir to keep on matching so that our rehearsals carry on being productive and enjoyable. After all, a productive choir is a happy choir, and a happy choir is a productive choir!
26 June 2019
Musical Director bows out on upbeat
Last night was Aidan Bradley’s final concert with us as Musical Director, although we may well call on him to play the French horn again we now he’s shown us how good he is. In an impromptu speech before a rousing performance of Zadok the Priest, Aidan thanked the choir for having been such a “blast”, praised its ambition and willingness to tackle challenging works Bach’s Mass in B minor. Paul Bradbury, the chair of the choir, thanked Aidan for how far he had brought the choir in his six years with it, and for making rehearsals so pleasant as well as so productive.
As for the concert itself, an audience of over 80 enjoyed it throughout. Particular thanks are due to David Cane, baritone, who raced from Evensong at Manchester Cathedral to cover for mezzo soprano Mia Serracino-Inglott whom illness had prevented from performing.
So, now all that remains of our 2018-19 season is a choir garden party on Sunday, and another chance to reflect on Aidan’s contribution as well as to anticipate the arrival in September of our new musical director, Matthew Quinn.
20 June 2019
We’re in the final straight now for this summer’s concert so it’s just as well that we’ve got the hang (mostly) of the harmonies and tempos in the Stravinsky. Listening to it a few more times should sort that out. Meanwhile, the Handel comes more easily, perhaps because some of it is familiar to several members of the choir, and we’re putting the finishing touches to the Mahler to wring every emotion out of it.
3 June 2019
After the half term break we’re returning to rehearsal on Tuesday 4 with renewed relish, not least because it’s now only three weeks to the concert.
In addition, this will be Aidan Bradley’s last concert with us as musical director. We’re set on giving him one last high point to remember along with all the others.
Matthew Quinn will join us as musical director from September. Several members of the choir have had singing lessons with Matthew since he took a couple of rehearsals last autumn when Aidan was away. To help him get to know the choir further, and to offer choir members chance to shape programmes, we’ll be finding out choir members musical preferences and aspirations, and their ideas for improving the musical and social experience of being in the Philharmonic.
17 April 2019
The Mozart Requiem went nearly as well as we’d hoped, and as ever we’ll sort out the few bits where it didn’t next time.
An audience of over 130 people helped to produce an exhilarating evening of music – and covered costs for the evening, including for the excellent soloists and instrumentalists who more than justified their fees.
We were delighted to be able to give £150 to the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of Muriel Clarke, a founder member who died recently.
27 March 2019
The choir has decided to give all contributions for refreshments at the Spring concert to the Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of Muriel Clarke, a founder member of the choir who died recently. Donations at her funeral went to the Association in memory of her father, Reginald, as she had requested. So, the choir feels that this is a fitting way to honour her memory and her contribution to the choir’s development.
Meanwhile, we are honing our performance for the concert. Last night specialist coaching by a staff member from the Collee of Music renewed our confidence in negotiating the French of Vieille Prière Bouddhique by Lili Boulanger – and revealed some vowel sounds we didn’t know existed.
7 March 2019
As we head into the final rehearsals for our Spring Concert on 9 April, we are excited that a dozen new members have joined us since the New Year. The latest recruit turned up last night, a very welcome additional bass. After joining us through the rehearsal, Andrew left with a CD of the bass part that another new member offered him.