What we did on 07.03.18

I reminded everyone about these resources for the current programme:



Stanford:  You need to download the file, and not all devices will allow you to do that…
Performance of the Handel:

We devoted this rehearsal to the music festival repertoire. I am delighted that 45 members are turning out to represent the choir on Saturday – thank you.

Tonight’s rehearsal covered the Magnificat and O Praise the Lord and both made huge progress – well done.


What we will do on 14.03.18

Bernard will be taking this rehearsal – many thanks in advance

Verdi – Work from p6 to p12, with language work as appropriate

HandelLet all the earth (p25)

VivaldiQui tollis (p35)


What we will do on 21.03.18

Verdi – P12 to the end then sing through

HandelBoundless realms (p38)

VivaldiEt in terra (p7)

Comments Off on What we did on 07.03.18

LEARNING SUPPORT for Handel, Verdi and Stanford

Stanford:  You need to download the file, and not all devices will allow you to do that…
Performance of the Handel:

Comments Off on LEARNING SUPPORT for Handel, Verdi and Stanford

What we did on 28.02.18

Thank you to everyone who made it to the rehearsal this week – challenging conditions, not least a chilly room, but we persevered!


Music Festival – Saturday 10th. Please be at the Town Hall by 4.00 and find a seat in the main hall. The class will be finished about 6.00. There are no facilities for warming up so please do some ‘sirening’ and vocal exercises on the way in the car! We will perform the Gloria exercise we have used as a warm up, Magnificat and O Praise the Lord. Please practise these as we only have a short time on them next week. Dress for this event is normal concert wear plus something red (scarf, jewellery, bow tie etc…). Thank you.


Verdi – We did a lot of careful work on the first six pages, paying attention to the notes rather than the words. The Italian will be easier to get our mouths around once we are confident with the music. Pater noster is not available in any of the learning resources, but helpful for getting the idea is this performance:


Handel O praise the Lord. More progress was made on the second half (from fig D p7).

Magnificat – We ran this at the end.

What we will do on 07.03.18

Verdi – Page 6 (bar 75) to the end. HAVE YOU NUMBERED YOUR BARS?

Vivaldi – Gratias (p17), Cum sancto (p42)

At 9.00 we will run the festival pieces with those who are singing.


Comments Off on What we did on 28.02.18

What we did on 21.02.18


  • Post-it note repertoire gathering exercise results shared – 145 pieces! – Thank you
  • 15 suggestions have been taken to plan provisional programmes to Christmas 2023! These will be announced after careful consideration by committee and directors.
  • Spring 2019 – Definitely THE AFRICAN SANCTUS by David Fanshawe!!
  • BLOXHAM SINGING DAY (March 18) – So far 10 members have signed up – thank you. Any more? Contact Alex Redpath ajr@bloxhamschool.com
  • Chipping Norton Music Festival: Saturday March 10
  • Our Singday on June 16 – 10.00-7.00 (inc performanc) – £20. Register and pay online (set up in progress)


Stanford Magnificat – We did a lot of thorough work on this once it had settled down and we got comfortable with the notes. Careful attention must be paid to:

  • Note endings – rhythmic and with clear consonants
  • Expressing the phrases musically – don’t be afraid to enjoy the Romanticism of the harmony even though this music is rather ‘functional’ being part of the Evening Canticles and part of a C of E Evensong service rather than concert/entertainment music
  • Be careful with vowel sounds – e.g. the words ‘me‘, ‘Name‘, ‘meek‘. listen and match

 Vivaldi Gratias (p17) – Careful work with the first 6 bars – tuning is crucial. Anything with a # sign by it needs care! These notes are either moving chromatically (by a semitone), or an unusually large whole tone and risk being flat. Listen and pay attention at these points. Basses – to confirm: The note on ‘tibi‘ in bar 3 should be an A (not A# as in some copies).

The Allegro section is straightforward and short. There is only one ‘tune’, which everyone sings, so they must match. Make the first 4 notes light and staccato – aim for the ‘glor-‘ syllable, crescendo a little through the quaver decoration, aiming for the final falling 3 notes. Start this mp, be expressive with the tune but keep to that overall dynamic. Crescendo in bars 16/17, then f from bar 18 to the end.

Handel opening chorus (p2) – On 07.02.18 we did a lot of work on this from section D (p7) and in my notes I carefully pointed out the subtle difference in the main melody lines (one is an arpeggio and the other is a scale). Worth reading again as there were still a lot of mistakes this week! Overall this was pretty good and just needs to become familiar so we can relax into it.

What we will do on 28.02.18

Handel: O praise (p2) and Your voices raise (p45) in sectionals

Verdi: Pages 1-4 (recap), pages 5/6, page 7 (bar 92) – 9

Stanford: Finish the Magnificat

Comments Off on What we did on 21.02.18

What we did on 07.02.18

BLOXHAM Come along and sing:

Vivaldi Gloria  Sunday March 18 (10-4) Bloxham School Recital Room

Tuesday 20 (5.30-6.30)  with  Concert (7.30) St Mary’s Church Bloxham

TO REGISTER Please email Director of Music Alex Redpath at ajr@bloxhamschool.com

Thank you to Susannah for supplying an excellent pronunciation guide for the Verdi Italian and for helping us sound native! We sang pages 1-4 and made a good start.

Have a listen/look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUUqDQw0gw8

Sung in a splendid Italian church this is conducted by my first head of department! The pace is good, it stays in tune and even ends a tad sharp – some achievement!

HOMEWORK – Please add bar numbers to your score – number the 1st bar of each system (block of staves). There are a total of 174!

Handel: O praise the Lord from fig D (p7). Make sure you know confidently the difference between the main theme (Sops at D) and the descending scale passage (e.g. tenor entry just after this) – they begin the same but aren’t! Sops – breathe in your long passage bottom of p8 in the following places – p9 first quaver, bar 3 first quaver.

Ye boundless realms of joy – There are 4 components to this movement:

  1. The opening theme (altos Ye…..fame)
  2. Short rising passage (exalt exalt, developed into exalt your Maker’s fame)
  3. Hymn-like phrase – His praise your song employ – chordal and everyone moves together
  4. New ‘climbing’ theme (up to the ‘starry frame’) in tenors p41 fig C

It is useful to identify each of these to differentiate the way they are sung and to give the movement some contrast. Basses be careful – your line leaps around a lot, particularly at cadences, so practise for accuracy. Sopranos – entry in bar 4 has an E natural. This catches you out because the music lands on F major but hasn’t actually modulated (there is no E nat or cadence into F)- your entry confirms the key (Lecturette on Key modulations is available on request!!). Altos – tricky little passage on the page turn 43-44, look out.


What we will do on 21.02.18

Stanford – Magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Verdi – Pages 1-4 (recap), pages 5/6, page 7 (bar 92) – 9

Vivaldi – Gratias (p17)

Thank you.

Comments Off on What we did on 07.02.18

What we did on 31.01.18

Are you dehydrated?

It is recommended that we drink at least 2 litres of water a day to stay sufficiently hydrated. This is particularly important for singers! The vocal cords need to be adequately moist to work efficiently, so always drink a lot on Wednesdays before 3.00pm!

We did our post-it note exercise to gather future repertoire ideas from choir members – this went well, thank you for participating. It was done with such humour and commitment and I am looking forward to sharing the results with you. The process now is that I will compile the list with notes about resources required to perform each work, discuss with the committee to get an idea of possible future programmes, then share the results with everyone. This will be in early March at the latest.

Bernard and I presented a short illustrated lecturette on the subject of the Hemiola (which, by the way, is not a kind of milk pudding). It was received well and everyone was very attentive and now understands what it is, and how to spot one! The definition for those who were not present, or have forgotten is: ‘A musical figure in which two groups of three beats are replaced by three groups of two beats’. It is a Greek term and represents the ratio of 1.5:1 – so now you know.

To music…..

We sang Vivaldi Domine fili and identified the hemiolas – this movement is beginning to sound like it should, as we have tackled it in a variety of ways.

Handel With cheerful notes…We practised slowly the quaver passages (‘let all inspired…’), put in breaths and worked out how to get notes for entries where there is a challenge – basses page 31 bottom line, follow the tenors in the bar before. Tenors page 33 bottom line first bar – sing ‘mirth’ lightly so it doesn’t stick out. Sopranos be careful of the following notes: page 31 5th bar last beat E flat; page 32 3rd bar starts with an A flat and bottom line be careful of the intervals.

Verdi: We looked at three passages which are the same to exp0lore the harmony and get used to the chromatic way the melody lines move – Page 5 to top of page 6, page 7 bottom and page 9 last bar.

We are singing in Italian, which has its roots in Latin so we are familiar with some words and the vowels sounds required, but there are sounds not so familiar to us and Susannah has kindly agreed to be our vocal coach.

What we will do on 07.02.18

Handel – O praise the Lord – whole movement (this is going into the festival) and Boundless realms (p38)

Verdi – Pages 1-4

Vivaldi – Gratias agimus tibi (p17)

HALF TERM BREAK – There is no rehearsal on 14.02.18




Comments Off on What we did on 31.01.18

What we did on 24.01.18

Chipping Norton Music Festival – Choral Class – Saturday March 10 in the afternoon (time tbc)

We will sing Stanford: Magnificat and Handel: O Praise the Lord (1st chorus)

Bloxham Come and Sing Vivaldi Gloria – Sunday 18 March; concert on Tuesday 20

A good rehearsal – we sang the following:

Vivaldi opening Gloria – Focused on how to make the word ‘Gloria’ really crisp. The tongue is vital here! Back of the tongue for the G but move through the L rapidly to the or then it will have the required energy. Breathe in the following places after singing ‘Gloria’ – bars 29, 30, 31,  38, 51 (after ‘excelsis’) otherwise not at all in the middle of phrases. Listen carefully to tuning in bars 41-48.

Domine fili – We spent a little time on this just to keep it fresh and will spend more time on it next week. Main points – bars 79-90, altos bounce your line with a smile, emulating a happy 5 yr old child skipping through the long grass on a summer’s day; sopranos stay in the background on your sustained descending steps, maintaining a bright ‘eh’ vowel on ‘Jesu’.

Stanford Magnificat – Bernard moved to the organ giving us the splendid opportunity to sing this with gusto. We spent a little while working on soprano vowel blend and tone in bars 56-60 for the ‘solo’ passage. Important to keep a slightly open mouth shape so it has tone, and use the tongue (again!) to sculpt the consonants – this sounded well! Same with T & B bars 62-66 and tutti bars 68-73. This section is legato – the vowel sounds are more noticeable so blending is important.

Handel Let all the earth (p25) – This was a read-through in preparation for more work next week. Deft tongue and lip work required for the faster quaver passages!

Verdi Pater noster – We read through this for the first time – very good effort.


What we will do in 31.01.18

Repertoire gathering exercise with post-it notes – come with your ideas or just your favourite pieces which you think the choir should/could perform…..

Vivaldi Domine fili (p22), Handel Let all the earth (p25), O praise the Lord (p25 from fig D)

Verdi – Specifically bars 58-65, 92-103, 120-130. These passage are all the same or very similar and will prove useful ‘anchor points’ or safe harbours on the perilous journey through chromatic rough water.

Also – anticipate the mini illustrated ‘lecturette’ on The Hemiola and its place in our lives.

Thank you, Peter

Comments Off on What we did on 24.01.18

What we did on 17.01.18

Thank you again to everybody who negotiated the change of venue – apologies for the short notice.

Next week (24th) is in the Methodist Chapel, then hopefully back in school after that……

We had an excellent rehearsal in the Church Parish Rooms and many people commented on what a fine venue it is for our practice!

Handel O praise the Lord (opening chorus): Good progress here. We established some basic ‘rules’ to be applied:

  • All endings to be full length unless you are singing immediately after – e.g. p/4 basses 3 bars after fig. B and sopranos p/6 at fig. C
  • Opening phrase (and when it reappears) – bold singing, separating each note to make the statement ‘imperative’ rather than a ‘suggestion’!
  • …and magnify… (starting at 7 after fig. A) – make this lighter, with no breath or break on the runs for ‘magnify’
  • Let all the servants… (fig. D) legato. We did not work in this section much and will return to it on 31.01.18

Vivaldi Et in terra pax

  • We had a thorough work out of the LATIN VOWELS (Pure and with no English diphthongs!). There are only 5 sounds – Eh,  Ee, Ah, O, and Ooh – mouths should stay in the same shape as much as possible apart from ‘ooh’ when the lips come forward. REALLY important that these are consistently applied otherwise we don’t sound like a choir!
  • Consonants – Letter ‘t’ should not be anglicised and ‘splashy’ or ‘wet’ – aim for a ‘dry’ sound half way between a ‘t’ and a ‘d’. Consonants should always be strong but get off them and onto the vowel asap – don’t linger! E.g. bonae voluntatis – there is a different vowel sound after each consonant so the mouth (and the tongue) has to move somewhere 🙂
  • The singing must always be gentle but sustained with a quiet intensity, growing and decaying through the phrases – heading for the word ‘pax’ each time

We experimented with a crescendo and diminuendo from bar 76 (tenor entry) to the end with no direction from me; each voice part decided where they think the climax of their lines is and headed for it. It was pretty much unanimous and the effect was magical. Vivaldi has done the work for us, we just need to be aware, listen and approach it musically and it works!

Tuning was not brilliant but this will come when we have mastered the style and identified what the obstacles are and how to overcome them.

Domine fili: We sang through this to scat syllables and enjoyed sounding like wannabe Swingle Singers. The sound had a great energy and will get us to the appropriate ‘groove’ before we add the words – more work on this next week when we need to sort out some awkward key changes. There was also an examination of bars 35-37 and why this cadence (ending or close of the phrase) is called a HEMIOLA. This discussion continued until about 11.30 in The Chequers….. Bernard and I might demonstrate this musically next week….


Saturday 10 March pm– Music Festival Choral Class. We will be entering and will sing some items from the current programme.

Sunday 18 March 10.00-4.00 – Bloxham ‘Come along and sing’ featuring the Vivaldi, to be held at Bloxham School. I would like us to support this and in return singers from the school will attend our Singday in June. If interested please email Director of Music Alex Redpath at ajr@bloxhamschool.com

Tuesday 20 March 5.30 dress rehearsal; 7.30 Gala concert including the Vivaldi, in St Mary’s Church Bloxham

Saturday 16 June 10.00-4.00Chipping Norton Singday featuring Bob Chilcott’s The Voyage, Vivaldi Gloria and other pieces. Concert at 5.30 in St Mary’s Church CN. This is a joint venture with North Cotswold Chamber Choir, Bloxham School and students from King Edward VI School, Stratford.

CNCS will have three rehearsals for this after the May 12 Concert in Witney – dates to be confirmed


What we will do on 24.01.18

Sing the Verdi if the copies have arrived

Vivaldi opening movement and Domine Fili again and Domine Deus

Handel Let all the earth

Comments Off on What we did on 17.01.18


It was wonderful to see so many at this term’s first rehearsal on 10.01.18 – thank you everyone for turning up at the Methodist Chapel and apologies for the late change. I would like to welcome the new members that have joined us – may your experience with us be happy and fruitful – thank you for travelling with CNCS – the choir of choice!

We sang through everything to get a flavour of the challenges ahead – well done. Compared with the Bach, this programme has contrasting musical styles and flavours (Baroque and late Romantic) with shorter movements and more text. This gives us the opportunity to focus on some choral singing not offered by the Bach – i.e. more chamber-like, greater range of expression and dynamics. Prepare to be more flexible! We also have the chance to make more of our warm up time to concentrate on vocal technique and learning by ear 🙂

Essential for rehearsals please:

  • Prompt start at 7.30. Registers will be passed amongst the choir during the session to avoid a queue and delays at the start
  • Bring 3 pencils – One for you, one for your neighbour on either side – and USE AT LEAST ONE OF THEM!
  • Practise between rehearsals, particularly as we hope to perform some movements without copies. Recommended online sites are choraline.com and cyberbass.com and both have rehearsal tracks for the Vivaldi, but not the other pieces 🙁 Other sites are probably available and if you discover one, please share it (them)
  • Listening to decent recordings is very helpful for learning and Amazon has plenty of CDs to offer:
  • HANDEL – Select ‘Chandos Anthems’ rather than O praise the Lord, but make sure the recording features ours as there are 12 of them! If you like the larger choral sound go for any David Willcocks recording; if you like a crisper and more chamber quality (preferred) then Harry Christophers and The 16 are for you. The first few items on Amazon under ‘Chandos Anthems’ list recordings of each.
  • VIVALDI –  There are plenty available and it’s a choice of what you would like it paired with on the CD, and perhaps some of the soloists, or conductor are familiar to you. This is not Radio 3 ‘Building a library’ so I can’t recommend specifically, but John Elliot Gardiner does a brilliant job and this CD is partnered with Handel’s Dixit Dominus which should be in anyone’s library! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vivaldi-Gloria-Handel-Dixit-Dominus/dp/B000050IU0/ref=sr_1_5?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1515762686&sr=1-5&keywords=vivaldi+gloria+cd
  • VERDI – Much less choice here so further research required, but this looks an interesting collection: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Various-Vater-Unser-Pater-Noster/dp/B0047A7WVE/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1515763302&sr=1-1&keywords=verdi+pater+noster
  • STANFORD – Look carefully for this as he wrote several Magnificat/Nunc dimitis settings so make sure you get on in C (and no other key!)

What we will do on 17.01.18

Handel – First chorus O praise the Lord

Vivaldi – Et in terra pax

Sing through Vivaldi Domine fili


Music for the new term

Rehearsals start on 09.01.18


Vivaldi – Gloria

Handel – Chandos Anthem no. 9 – O Praise the Lord with one consent

Verdi – Pater Noster

Stanford – Magnificat and Nunc dimitis in C

Concert: St Mary’s Church, Witney on May 12th

Comments Off on Music for the new term