A Happy New Year to all our members and supporters. There was a committee meeting yesterday (minutes will appear on the website soon) and we have confirmed the appointment of Merel van der Knoop as Music Director to follow AmyBeth Beel who did such a good job for us in that position from 2014-2019. Good luck and thanks to AmyBeth and welcome to Merel who we have been working with over recent years.
More news of future events, workshops and rehearsals will follow shortly.
I have heard good reports from this lunchtime’s event at the TfL faith group event and I’m sorry I had to miss it but my voice is not yet up to singing yet.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 17th December, Merel is holding a rehearsal at 55 Broadway ahead of the RailStaff carol service on Thursday. Please arrive at 17:45 so she can start promptly at 18:00.
Wednesday. We are busking at Westminster Station 17:30 – 18:45 - please see Sam’s earlier email.
Thursday. Please be at St Mary’s Church Eversholt Street near Euston Station by 10:30. The service starts at 12:30 and there is a chance to get refreshments afterwards if you are able to stay. Uniform is the usual all black with red scarf or tie and your music in your folders.
Have a good week and I look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday and Thursday
Well done to everyone who sang at the Christmas Celebration this lunchtime, hosted by the TfL Christian Network. I thought there was a good balance of SATB and my personal fave was Silent Night. 🎶🎵🎶 We certainly had an appreciative audience who gave us a round of applause after each carol!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼Xx
A special thanks to Fiona for arranging the Christmas Celebration Event. Thanks to Alex for conducting and Annette Kay for accompanying us and providing lovely background carols on the keyboard during lunch.👏👏👏👏
Well done all and my apologies for turning up late: you did sound good in the last carol and looked very professional whilst listening to the address and in the last carol. Thank you, Fiona for organising this event.
Another of our sopranos was missing - but she had a good excuse too - back to work for Maddy!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I say many thanks to each and every one of you for the wonderful music you produced this evening. I thought our sound as a choir was excellent as did the members of the congregation I spoke to after the service. Mike Brown was very complimentary as was the Reverend Catherine Duce, who said the repertoire was outstanding for a volunteer workplace choir, to which I have to agree: you really did do yourselves proud. One special thanks needs to go to Sam for really lifting the Shepherds' Farewell to another level; the steel pan will have to become a regular member of the choir.
Our success in no small part down to our wonderful choir directors. AmyBeth who over the last 5 years as MD has brought the choir along in leaps and bounds taking us from an average choir to a choir to be reckoned with, one which can sing in some of the most prestigious places in London. AmyBeth has taken our voices and trained us in the way so that now we can take a piece be it, The Shepherds' Farewell or Proud Mary, Waterloo Sunset or the introit of Faure's Requiem, and deliver it confidently, with feeling and musical understanding. It has been an amazing piece of teaching to get us that far: unfortunately she hasn’t yet been able to get us to watch her as often as she would want but you can't work miracles and we are working on this. AmyBeth - we will miss you as our MD but you did graciously introduce us to our next MD in Merel who I am sure will continue to build on all your hard work and achievements. Please do come back and sing with us as and when you're free to do so - we wold love to have you back with us.
So here’s to a great Christmas season with a few more events all as important and worthy as tonight’s. Where you are able please do come along and help us, especially at Westminster for busking and at Palestra for the faith group service on Monday week.
Once again many thanks and you really did do yourselves proud.
Just a short note ahead of the biggest and most important event of the year - the TfL Festival of Carols
Please arrive from 1530 so we can begin warming up at 1545 and start rehearsing at 1600 sharp. We will rehearse for an amount of time to be confirmed by the musical director on the day. Please do not leave your possessions in the main seats but in the pews to the side or any other areas as shown by committee members.
Please wear all black from head to toe. Please bring and wear your red scarf or red tie and please ensure you have ironed them. Please ensure you have all of your music and it is held in your choir folder. Anyone who does not conform to these instructions will not be allowed to sing (as per the instruction at last Saturday’s rehearsal) The uniform requirements remain the same for all events unless otherwise specified.
Once we have finished our rehearsal we will relocate to a room downstairs were we can leave you belongings. This room will be locked when empty. There is some time to have a snack before you need to return to the room fully ready to depart at 1850. Once we leave the room and enter the church stairs please remain silent as the noise echoes up the stairs into the church.
Pre paid Souvenir Programmes / Guest arrival
If you have pre purchased the souvenir programmes from Zena the please ensure your guests have them to gain entry otherwise they will be asked to buy another (with no refund!) If you were not at Saturday’s rehearsal then you can pick up any remaining programmes from Zena before or just after tomorrow’s rehearsal. Please ask your guests to arrive by 1855 as the doors will close at 1900. Please note the later they arrive the less choice of seats they will have. Also please ask them not to sit at the end of the pews by the middle aisle as this is where the invited speakers sit and they may be asked to move.
We will then perform until around 2005/ 2010. You must remain seated until directed to leave. This will be around 5 minutes after the clergy have departed. You are then free to mingle with your families etc but please remember to return to the room downstairs to collect your belongings.
After the concert
As stated above please remember to return to the room to collect your belongings. Then you are free to leave.
Here are the details which the organisers have sent to Fiona
11.30 – 12.00 – set up, buffet arrives, decorate, singers arrive and practice
12 to 12.15 – people arrive, buffet and (optional) singers sing in the background
12.15 – Welcome and official start
Carol - Once in royal David’s city
Bible reading – Isaiah 9:6-7, the prophet foretells the coming of Jesus
Carol – O Come All Ye Faithful
Bible reading – Luke 1:26-35, the birth of Jesus foretold
Performance piece by singers – Silent Night
Bible reading – Luke 2: 1-16, the birth of Jesus
12.45 to 1pm - talk by Kev Murdoch
Carol - Hark the herald angels sing
1pm official end
On Saturday we had a three hour rehearsal, attended by 6S 4A 5T and 6B - a terrific turnout! After an active warm up (great for our step count!) we started the rehearsal with A Great and Mighty Wonder the tune of which was familiar to some from another hymn or carol (can anyone remember which?). We then went onto Once in Royal David’s City, O Litttle Town of Bethlehem and It came upon the midnight clear where the sops (and friends) learned the decant which was new to us.
After a short break we looked at I heard the Bells on Christmas Day and Bob advised us of the word changes. We then rehearsed Mary’s Magnificat and ran through Lo he comes with clouds of glory.
NOTES FOR FUTURE REFERENCE
A Great and Mighty Wonder
- If you can roll your ‘r’s exaggerate this on ‘Repeat’ and ‘Glory’ in chorus in particular.
Once in Royal David’s City
- Ensure clear diction
- AmyBeth’s instructions on v2: emphasise ‘down’ and ‘heav’
- Carry over ‘heaven’ to ‘who’, breathe after God
- Break after ‘lowly’ and ‘earth’
- ‘holy’ sing as ‘holee’ not ‘holi’
O Little town of Bethlehem
- All verses in harmony
- v3 quiet
- respect the hold-overs shown in music and don’t breathe
It came upon the midnight clear
- Annotate your score with the revised words previously circulated
- respect the hold-overs shown in music (both printed and annotated)
- sops do please look at the descant as we haven’t sung this before
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
- see instructions from last week; in addition:
- verse 3: Basses and tenors to respect the ‘piano’ dynamic and also sing softer on ‘Ah’s so don’t drown out the melody and soloist.
- change all ‘men’ to ‘all’
- Respect the ‘commas’ and break in v2
- v3 no break between Jesus and softly
Lo he comes
- No additional instructions
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.