To make up lost time from yesterday's cancelled rehearsal we will start this Saturday at 13:45 for 14:00. If singers can't make it until 15:00, don't be put off - just turn up and join in! 10th Floor 55 Broadway.
NEXT REHEARSAL WILL NOW BE ON SATURDAY!
After some amusing action-packed warm-ups Merel started us off with Up Good Christen Folk then went onto Lullay my Liking and The Shepherds’ Farewell, ending the first half with Hark the Herald.
AmyBeth took over and we then went through I heard the Bells and she confirmed composer instructions which really adds to the piece and did herself out of her initial solo by gifting it to the choir! We finished on Mary’s Magnificat, which is sounding really lovely.
If you didn’t make it to the rehearsal please mark up your score and check for part specific instructions with someone from your own part.
Up Good Christen Folk and Listen:
- emphasise the ‘d’s on the ding dong (esp Sops)
- remember at end to go back and do the ding-dong refrain to finish the piece.
- sops watch the undexpected rhythm on last couple of bars of third and fifth line
- anyone who can roll ‘r’s please do so and emphasise (to cover for those who can’t)
Lullay my Liking:
- bases v2 is written in treble clef, transpose down an octave
The Shepherds’ farewell:
- Good ‘sh’ on shepherds
- Respect dynamics, esp the last verse
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
- Initial solo to be done by all - everyone must learn this so it can be sung as one voice and watch Merel
- Soloist to sing sop part on Verse 4; sops to sing altos and rejoin sop line on chorus
- In all cases where there is ‘a chant sublime’ should be changed (at composer’s instruction) to ‘a chant SO sublime’
- bars 51-53, 112-114 and 132-134 replace tied note with quaver rest to create a break after ‘day’, ‘voice’ and ‘chime’ (composer’s instruction)
- ensure you sing only forte on the chorus on p7 so we can blow people away with ff on the chorus on p9 when it is a capella. Diminuendo from ‘ a voice’ at bar 132 to achieve mf by bar 136 then follow dynamic instructions.
- Third system first page, no break between ‘wakeful’ and ‘ever’
- Fourth system at end, no break between ‘her’ and ‘King’
In the Bleak Midwinter (we didn’t go over this)
- Tenors to do the solo
7S, 3A, 3T, 2B attended
A reminder that whilst we have the printed booklets we all need to own or have hire or library copies of the relevant Carols for Choir Books (1, 2 and 3) to comply with copyright law. It's not necessary to carry them with you!
We had a really productive rehearsal on Tuesday with 7S, 6A, 4T and 3B turning up at Stratford on a chilly November evening. We concentrated on Mary’s Magnificat, the Berlioz Shepherds’ Farewell (with its tricky alto part), and ‘I heard the Bells’, written for the choir in 2015 by Joanna Gill. And we had a quick look at O come all ye faithful, with descant. So that’s two rehearsals under our belts but can singers please use the rehearsal MP3s and practise their parts before the next rehearsals on Saturday and Tuesday next? There are one or two subscriptions outstanding so please remit these to me, with a copy of the form (it’s on the new members’ page of this website). And, yes, my memory did not fail me - Berlioz was married to Harriet Smithson, a Shakespearean actress and soprano from Ennis in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Maybe that’s why he gave the altos such a hard time.
Well, my dear fellow singers, I don’t want to worry any of you but we have only a few weeks left now before our showcase at St Martin-in-the Fields, and this means we have a limited number of rehearsal slots left, with our next one being on 19 November. To aid our practice time at home our MP3 wizard has been busy weaving his magic and has produced loads of MP3s for you to download and sing along to - and more are in preparation.
On the subject of rehearsals we have a limited number left to perfect our sound and diction so please can I ask that we all make the best possible use of the rehearsal time, can I please put in one plea and ask you - when the MD is practising with another part or is playing through the piece please can we not talk whilst this is happening as it distracts those whose line it is being played/ rehearsed. Instead please can we just follow our own parts and see where we fit in with the others.
I know that a lot of us know the music, especially the congregational carols, however, there are members of the choir who don’t, so we need to help by letting them learn them. That said choir practices should be fun and hard work and I’m not saying there shouldn’t be questions, discussion and a bit of humour etc and I know that quite often we are discussing our part and where we maybe not getting it quite right but we need to let Merel and AmyBeth do their job and get us to be the brilliant choir we are.
One last thing, I know that we can't always get to rehearsals on time owing to work, train services, caring duties or for a myriad of other reasons, but please do come along and when you arrive if we are singing please just wait till the choir stops and then pop into your place; this helps to minimise disruption. Also if you know you're going to miss a rehearsal please can you get a colleague to work with you and advise you of any instructions that our MDs have given and mark your music accordingly. Speaking of music, please please do remember to bring your music with you as spares aren’t always available.
As Michael signs off his emails 'We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams' - that’s us, looking forward to our next rehearsal on Tuesday 19 November at 17:45 for 18:00 at out Stratford home.
My dear fellow singers, it seems that we have been singing a lot together this last week and it's always a pleasure to be with you. May I just say that I believe we really did exceptionally well at Southwark Cathedral on Wednesday; there were a couple of hiccups but that’s life - we received some lovely feedback both from the organisers and also the congregation. Well done all.
Now to Christmas and the music we have to learn. This Saturday we started the Christmas rehearsals with both AmyBeth and Merel leading us. This was a three hour rehearsal with AmyBeth running the first half where we worked on Once in Royal and In the Bleak Mid Winter, looking hard at the musical shape of the verses and more importantly the diction of the words, AmyBeth says that as most of us know the carols she can spend time getting the choir sounding clear and solid on these, which will make a difference in St Martin's and St Mary's. We also looked at the choir-only piece 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' which was written for the choir to perform in 2015 by Joanna Gill, a friend of AmyBeth's.
In the second half, Merel started with O come all ye faithful, again working on the words and the descant verse, then went onto the choir-only piece Mary's Magnificat - a soft and gentle piece that we will sing at the opening of the service. As this was the first time for all of the choir with one or maybe two exceptions, I felt that the choir sang it with feeling and joy, perhaps with a bit of trepidation but it's going to be great.
Ralph and Michael are working hard to get the MP3’s onto the web page (some will be posted in the next few minutes) so please do look out for these and other information about the choir on the web site. Michael is gathering lots of material about Southwark but needs a couple of hours to marshal them into order and format them and those hours may not be available until Thursday, he says. It's the kind of morning job when webmasters are rumoured to be fresh as a daisy! And also Fiona and Sam are working on some extra Christmas gigs.
And good luck to Catherine as she starts her phased return to work.
Well, our performance at Southwark was widely applauded and thanks have come from so many directions. I'll try to post pictures and comments on the website shortly. Particular thanks go to John and Catherine for all their organising activity and Merel for getting the choir up to Cathedral standards and conducting us on the day. Our singers - including our guests - all deserve thanks too and will be spreading the word about our wonderful choir.
Meanwhile here is our Christmas rehearsal schedule, showing which of AmyBeth or Merel will be leading in each case. You should all have your music already - if not chairman Bob (who is still the Librarian!) has a copy for you.
Saturday 9 November 1345 for 1400-1700 4th Floor Office Space, 55 Broadway AB/M
Tuesday 19 November 1745 for 1800-2000 10th floor auditorium, Endeavour Square, Stratford M
Saturday 23 November 1345 for 1400-1700 10th floor, 55 Broadway AB/M
Tuesday 26 November 1745 for 1800-2000 Holden Room 5th floor, 55 Broadway AB
Saturday 30 November 1445 for 1500-1700 10th floor, 55 Broadway M
Tuesday 3 December 1745 for 1800-2000 10th floor, 55 Broadway M
Saturday 7 December 1445 for 1500-1700 10th floor, 55 Broadway AB
Wednesday 11 December 1545 for 1600-1730 St Martin-in-the-Fields AB
Wednesday 11 December 1900-2030 St Martin-in-the-Fields Service AB
Monday 16 December 1200-1300 Carols at Palestra TBC
Tuesday 17 December 1745 for 1800-2000 If Required 10th floor, 55 Broadway M
Thursday 19 December 1045 for 1100-1200 St Mary’s Eversholt Street M
Thursday 19 December 1230-1330 St Mary’s Eversholt Street Service M
There may be a couple of station events - watch this space