Author Archives: Peter Hunt

Warming up and voice training

Work your way through this short video to develop your technique and sound….

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What we will do on Wednesday 12.12.18

7.30 – Sing through the Elgar and return to cover joins and corners

Sections to look at in advance: Pages 20/21,  25/26 transition,  32-36,  42-45, 56-58

8.30 – Sing through RVW and return to cover any sections. Joins and changes of tempo are less of an issue in Dona nobis pacem, it’s mainly about getting the right tone and atmosphere

Sections to look at in advance: Pages 17/18,  26-28,  40-43

Please warm up on the way to rehearsal – sirening, deep breaths/hissing, ‘me-mo-mum’ arpeggios!


What we will do on Thursday 13.12.18 in St Mary’s Banbury

Once seating is sorted we will repeat the above – singing through and returning to cover requirements (which should be fewer!).

This rehearsal is likely to end at 9.30 as usual.

Thank you all – please look at what you personally need to – good luck.

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Parking advice for St Mary’s Banbury

These instructions were sent to the orchestra for Saturday 15th parking:

Assuming that you are coming to Banbury from the Chipping Norton direction – you will be entering Banbury via the A361. This is also called the Bloxham Road. This leads straight into Banbury, until eventually it reaches a T-junction controlled by traffic lights, where you should turn LEFT (continuing on the A361, now called South Bar Street). The church is across the roundabout at Banbury Cross, on the right. Post code OX16 0AA on SatNav is close to the venue. For parking, continue past the church and turn right – see ‘Long term parking’ below.

Long-term parking: Having turned at the major traffic lights you are in Castle Street and there are 3 options:

* Shortly on the right is the site of the multi-storey car park, now reduced to ground level only

* Continue straight on to a new multi-storey (Castleside) – enter at the mini roundabout

* Turn left at this mini roundabout into Cherwell Street, follow the road round to the next roundabout and turn right

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What we did on 21.11.18


  • There are 3 more Wednesday rehearsals only! The extra one on Thursday 12th in the church is to get used to a different acoustic and find our seats
  • Chastleton House Carols: Rehearsal on Monday next (26th), 7.30-9.00 in the Music Room. Singing on Sunday 2 Dec, meeting at 10.00 to get organised and warm up; ‘performing’ from 11.00-12.30. Final arrangements will be confirmed at the rehearsal. Thank you signing up – It’s not too late!
  • Concert day: We will meet in St Mary’s Banbury for 2.00 start and finish at 5.00 (Orchestra runs from 2.30-5.30)


Vaughan Williams – we nailed pages 22-28 and pages 12-16

Elgar – Pages 32-40


What we will do on 28.11.18

RVW: Pages 48-53, then 30-39. Sing through of the whole piece after the break!


What we will do on 05.12.18

Elgar: Pages 42-45, then page 78-end. Sing through of the whole piece after the break!


What we will do on 12.12.18

Troubleshooting as required!

Many thanks for your hard work – keep practising…..

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What we did on 14.11.18

Welcome to James Speakman as accompanist – great to have you on board and good luck!

Notices: Chastleton House carols confirmed as Sunday 2 December. Meet at 10.00;  singing from 11.00 for an hour or so. Detailed arrangements to follow.  Rehearsal for this on Monday 26 November in the Methodist Church 7.30.

We did thorough work on the RVW pages 40-46, then the end pages 67/8 and pages 22-28. We also ran through beat drums again (pages 6-20) which was pretty good but pages 12-15 need work.

We sang through Elgar pages 22-28 ready for next week.

INTERESTING TV PROGRAMME on BBC 2 last Saturday at 9.00 called: Holst & Vaughan Williams: Making music English.  Although rather ‘glossy’ in its presentation it demonstrates clearly what the inspirations were for these composers and is very interesting – might inspire you to explore more of their music! This link will take you to the BBC site and if not already signed up for iplayer you may have to register, but that’s not bad thing!

What we will do on 21.11.18

RVW: Pages 12-15, 22-28 and sing through 48-53

Elgar: Pages 32-40, 42-45

Over the following two weeks we will sing through longer chunks of each work to get continuity, stopping to0 admire the view as required!



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What we did on 07.11.18

Thank you for a shorter rehearsal and the AGM which was very business-like and positive. The choir is in good shape, high membership, good income, lots of friendly support and energy and a very exciting four-year programme.


  • Final concert rehearsals – in addition to Wednesday 12 December, there is an extra one on Thursday 13 in St Mary’s Church, Banbury at 7.30.
  • On concert day – Saturday 15 – we rehearse with the orchestra from 2.00 – 5.00
  • Christmas – We are not participating in the Town Carols (too near the concert ahead of a busy week). Chastleton House has invited a group to sing for them in the morning on Sunday 2 December. We will collect names over the next two weeks. There will be a rehearsal for this on MONDAY 26 November in the Methodist Church – programme will consist of some trad carols and simple arrangements we can get together quickly (same pieces as for the ‘snowed off’ event last year)
  • Next term – We are preparing the African Sanctus by David Fanshawe. This is an interesting, rather quirky but seminal piece of 20th cent choral music, an early attempt at ‘fusion’ – mixing extracts of recorded music from Africa with composed ‘western choral style’. It predates the explosion of ‘Roots music’ – the shared interest and familiarity with indigenous world music and ‘crossover’ styles which mix it together. Below are links to a rather wooden performance from Poland which clearly shows what the set up is and how the choir sings with the recordings and the 1975 BBC documentary about the making of the piece – the quality is very poor but it gives some insight to David Fanshawe’s mission. There are a few decent CDs of the piece too.

Rehearsal: RVW pages 54 to 67

What we will do on 14.11.18

We must press on through a lot more to get it covered, so ambitiously we will attempt the following – any prep you can do will help a lot.

RVW: Pages 40-46; pages 67 & 68; pages 22 – 28; sing through pages 30-39 (for the following week)

Elgar: Sing through pages 32-40 and 42-45 (for following week)

African Sanctus links

Whole performance – Music starts at 7′ 30″!:

BBC 1975 Omnibus TV documentary. dreadful quality (bootleg recording probably) but shows how Fanshawe collected his material and inspiration. If you get as far as his comments about English traditional music (i.e. we’re losing it and no one knows any) – is he right?!



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What we did on 31.10.18

Thanks to Chris Brown for playing, and to Brian for the wonderful posters and bookmarks!

This was a tough rehearsal with a lot of ‘fracking for notes’ and not as rewarding as we would have liked, I’m sure. VERY necessary and useful however and covered the following:

Elgar: Pages 18-31. Look out for the frequent changes in tempo and character, and extreme dynamics!

RVW: Pages 17 & 18 – tricky, particularly page 18. We sang through the whole section from page 6-20 following last week’s detailed exploration. The wheels didn’t come off but it had lost its energy so just needs singing many more times.

We ended the evening by singing pages 60/1 to get used to the big tune which dominates this last section.

What we will do on 07.11.18

Work from 7.30 – 8.40, followed by AGM from 8.50-9.30

Music: I have done a careful ‘audit’ of the first half term’s achievements and we are generally more familiar with a lot more of the Elgar and less so the RVW.

This week we will nail RVW pages 54-66 (some of which we have worked on) and pages 40-46 (first seen in the auditions) and NO ELGAR!

Many thanks, Peter


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What we did on 24.10.18

We worked really hard on the RVW movt 2 from pages 11 to 20 to join up with pages 6-11 that James had started a few weeks back (we did not quite get figs 7-8 done). The key to success in this movement is to make everything very short with strong consonants – beaT beaT drumZ, BLow  etc and on page 7 – forSS. Breathing: p8 – not after ‘church’; p9 – not after ‘peace’ but yes after ‘field’. BIG voiced ‘N’ on ‘grain’ P 13, T&B, quick one after ‘day’.

Then we did a remarkable thing – managed to sing through great chunks of the Elgar – Pages 42 to 73. Check this out to see how confident you are! Then we looked again at pages 5 to 17, taking p9 onwards at quite a lick – this is now sounding quite strong.

Well done everyone on a very successful half term, lots of musical progress and a new accompanist in place. Thank you for all your hard work.

What we will do on 31.10.18

Welcome James Speakman to the piano…

Elgar: Pages 18-31

RVW: Pages 6-20 (briefly to consolidate this week); pages 54-61

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What we did on 17.10.18

Welcome to Terry McNamara who accompanied us for the evening, nice to welcome him back.

We did excellent work on Elgar pages 68- 73, then joined it up from page 60. It was beginning to sound much more confident, and the words clearer. Placing the end of the notes – whether with a consonant or not – is noticeably weaker than other aspects, so please think carefully about this. They always end on a beat, so should be easy to place. When a note is tied to a quaver, we are nearly always placing the end where the quaver is (so cross it out and imagine it’s a rest, like most endings!) The exceptions to this rule will be noted as we proceed. Everyone note crotchet rest on p67 at fig 77 out of ‘ye‘ (inc sop 2); no breath after dreaming‘, but there is a breath after the ‘dreaming‘ in the bottom line.

We did not get onto Elgar pages 26-31 (which Matthew did in auditions) so we need to catch up…..

RVW: Good work on Beat drums p6-11 – full of energy, well done.

What we will do on 24.10.18 IN THE METHODIST CHURCH

Bernard’s last rehearsal 🙁

Note – slightly altered from rehearsal schedule published a few weeks ago.

RVW: Pages 11-20, then add to pages 6-10 to complete the whole movement

Elgar: Pages 26-31; run what we did last week p60-73

Thank you

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What we did on 10.10.18

We held the second round of accompanist auditions – thank you all very much for making this process work so well. There were four strong candidates, giving us a difficult decision to make. The result will be announced shortly.

I am grateful to the candidates for their thoroughly professional approach to this, and for their engaging rehearsal work with the choir which was also helpful in preparing our programme! I would like to wish them all the best of luck for the future.

What we will do on 17.10.18

Back to normal, we will work on the following:

  • Elgar – Pages 18-31 and 68-73
  • RVW – Pages 6-20

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