Samson Movements

This may not be the final list, but the current list of chorus movements from Samson that we’re working on is:

p.8 Awake the trumpet’s lofty sound
p.52 Then round about the starry throne
p.110 Fix’d in his everlasting seat
p.124 With thunder armed
p.136 To fame immortal go
p.143 Great Dagon has subdued our foe
p.153 Hear us, our God
p.163 Glorious hero
p.173 Let their celestial concerts all unite

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What we did on 15.03.17

We sang through and worked on all of the Tippett Spirituals. They are really taking shape. Important that everyone knows where the repeats are and what happens about endings – the geography of the music!

We also tackled Porgy and Bess and worked a little on Michael Row the boast ashore and checked out the solos.

I was disappointed with how little progress some of the music in this rehearsal had made since we last looked at it, suggesting that not everybody notes carefully what they have to remember and learn. Please bring a pencil and be sure to take on board what I advise/request/demand so that the learning moves forward more rapidly. Appreciated – remember you are doing this for the team!

Soloists: I can confirm the following:

Tippett Spirituals – Rachel (S) and Will Stevens (T); Alto and Bass taken by two members of 8 in a Bar; Will Haddon – Go down Moses

Don’t you let nobody turn you round – Kipper Chipperfield and Will Stevens

Go tell it on the mountain – The entire Alto section!

What you will do on 22.03.17 with Bernard:

Tippett – Go down Moses and Deep River

Give me strength

Let it shine

Little lamb

…and on 29.03.17 (with all solos)

Let us break bread together

Don’t you let nobody turn you round

Go tell it on the mountain

Porgy and Bess

…and on 05.04.17 with me

Sing through everything!

Thank you


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Programme for the concert – not necessarily in this order:

Nanuma; Michael Row the boat ashore (from memory)

Porgy and Bess choral selection

Let it shine

5 Spirituals (Tippett)

Blue Mountain River

Swing low sweet chariot

Give me strength

From the Book of Spirituals:

Go tell it on the mountain; Don’t you let nobody turn you round; Little Lamb; Let us break bread together

PLUS: Solo items and guest appearance by 8 in a bar!

Pieces to be rehearsed this week:

Porgy & Bess; Little lamb; Give me strength and attempt all Tippetts!


What we did on 01.03.17

We did good work on Go down Moses and Deep River and put Give me strength together and worked on some detail.

Thank you to the people who have volunteered for solos. Next week is the last chance to raise your hand – I will gave everyone something to do and will confirm on the 15th.

The singers performing at the festival then tightened up the programme. They went on to give an excellent performance on Saturday in the Town Hall to a packed audience of the other choirs. It was an entertaining afternoon with great and varied singing and some very astute and supportive comments from  Ben Costello the adjudicator.

We got a Distinction and comments that were merited – I will share them with you next Wednesday. I was pleased that the choir was balanced and gave very confident performances, marred only by the unusual acoustic which makes it difficult to hear other singers! Consequently everyone sang more cautiously in the loud sections that they needed to – we can work on this. Thank you to everyone who came to sing and well done, we performed musically and stylishly and I am proud of you all!

What we will do on 08.03.17

NEW: Little innocent lamb – OBS page 70

Tippett: By and by – Alto 1 – please sing with the Sop 2 at the start of the middle section (page 15) for 2 bars, and the same passage on page 16.  Deep River.

Let it shine

Sing through: Go tell it on the mountain, and Don’t you let.

If time we will whizz through Porgy & Bess

What we will do on 15.03.17

Sort the solos.

Porgy & Bess; Little lamb; Give me strength and attempt all Tippetts!

Very many thanks everyone.

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What we will do on 01.03.17

Apologies for the lateness of this posting…..

Music Festival confirmation: On Saturday March 4 we are required at the Town Hall at 2.45 for the Choirs Class at 3.00. Please wear Concert dress. We are singing Blue Mountain river, Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen and Swing low sweet chariot. We will use folders (provided). We should finish about 5.30.

At the rehearsal on Wednesday we will do the following:

7.30 – Go down Moses and Deep river (Tippett) and Give me strength (blue books).

8.45 (after the break) Festival singers only; to polish the programme and sort standing positions.

Thank you, Peter

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What we did on 08.02.17

This was a very productive rehearsal and instead of sectionals we worked together exploring a lot of new notes!

We worked slowly through Porgy & Bess so it is pretty well known now and we are beginning to add some musical elements. Changing character for each of the medley songs extracts is the most important performance challenge.

By and by (from Tippett Spirituals) – Although short, there is a lot of detail in this arrangement. The initial letter ‘B’ needs to be strong; don’t bump the word ‘lay’ just because it is the highest note in the phrase – aim for the word ‘heavy’ so the line is smoother. The little interjections (part 2 in each voice) need to be very rhythmic – breathe in time and let them bounce. 2nd sops and 2nd tenors need to be nimble in bar 41. In the middle section – 2nd sops have a tricky line – just learn it! Well done – there was good progress with this.

We sang through Let it shine and covered a few notes – more work to come. We ended by sight reading Give me strength (Songstream page 23).

I announced that we have 37 signers signed up for the Music Festival 13 sops, 12 alto, 6 tenor, 6 bass – that’s a good balance, thank you. More basses would be useful if you are still available on March 4th. We don’t know if the class will be afternoon or evening until the number of entries is confirmed. I suspect it will be afternoon.

Also – three people have offered to sing solos – more welcome.

What you need to do for 22.02.17 is to look over everything we have covered so far and be confident with your part.

Among the pieces to be rehearsed will be Steal Away, Let it shine & Give me strength.

Very many thanks everyone – good work. Enjoy a week off!

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What we did on 01.02.17


  1. Please sign up to confirm if you are available for the Music Festival on March 4, late afternoon, and confirmation that you can make the concert on April 9.
  2. Swing low sweet chariot: There is a school performance of this on youtube:

Useful for practising. Note that each of the verses is taken by men, altos, sopranos, as set out in the score (why didn’t I think of that?!). The ending is cunning too – to avoid clapping, they shout “carry me home“. Smart.

I gave a ‘shout out’ (i.e. – asked for a response!) for soloists for the next concert. I have listed below what is available now (others might emerge), all manageable by members of the choir, and it would be nice to have a collection of singers. Have a look and see if you fancy a go….

Tippet spirituals: Steal Away – page 2/3, soprano & tenor (middle section). Nobody knows – page 5, soprano & tenor. Go down Moses – pages 8 & 12, soprano; pages 9-11, bass. By and by – Soprano throughout. Deep River – throughout, SATB – some of it doubling the chorus.

The following are short manageable verses and would suit the ‘not sure but I’d quite like a go’ types!

Go tell it on the mountain (OBS p177) – Tenor (up to 3 – a verse each if required!)

Don’t you let nobody turn you round  (OBS p187/188, soprano; p190/191, tenor)

Others probably to follow…..

We rehearsed the following pieces last week: Nobody knows (recap), and By and by from the Tippett. Sang through Go tell it on the mountain to keep it fresh. All sounded very respectable. We made some more progress with Blue Mountain River and Swing low for the festival. Worked on some harmony detail for the final section of P & B.

What we will do on 08.02.17

Sectionals: P&B; By and by and Steal away

Let it shine – working together to get it started (sectionals to follow)

Sing through Give me strength from Songstream.

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What we did on 25.01.17

We nearly stuck to the schedule!

Porgy and Bess was almost completed and now needs singing a lot for familiarity and final note-checking. We started Go tell it on the mountain (OBS page 177) – excellent progress; well done T & B in particular! Nobody knows – again T & B sounded super on the tune and the whole thing came together well.

Chipping Norton Music Festival – Choirs Class on Saturday March 4th  Afternoon/evening (depending on size of class): We have entered this class and will be performing:

Blue Mountain River – Nobody knows (Tippett) – Swing low sheet chariot

I requested that everyone makes a priority of this if they are available so we field a large and strong choir, and to indicate your availability on the registers over the next couple of weeks – thank you.

What we will do on 01.02.17

Seating: Please make sure you sit close to other voices on your part – I’ll check this before we start.

Tippett – Nobody Knows; By an’ by

Let it shine (sectionals)

Blue Mountain and Swing low

Sing thru Porgy & Bess

Thank you.

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What we did on 18.01.17


Great rehearsal everyone, thank you. We welcomed Peter, a new bass.

Before the details, have a look at this link – it’s the new page on the Oxford University Press Facebook Page about Community Singing and features the video from our Singing Day in April 2016:

Do you have what it takes to lead a community choir?

We covered the following:

Swing low sweet chariot and Blue Mountain River from Songstream, Summertime (from Porgy & Bess), Tippett Deep River and read through Let it shine.

We started by singing Michael row the boat ashore, improvising harmonies for the ‘Hallelujah’; and we moved about! I would like to feature this song in the concert, from memory, and with harmony. The song originates from the slaves who sailed from St Helena Island in the Atlantic to the Southern American mainland, dreaming of a ‘land of milk and honey’. They had been freed by the British Naval Station Court, specially set up on the island in 1840 in an effort to suppress the slave trade from West Africa.

We discussed how we are going to approach the language and dialect as we sing. We are basically singing English but generally with relaxed consonants, and the vowels in connective words (the, and, to etc) less distinct, particularly on quick notes.   Please read the Note on dialect on page xvii of the Book of Spirituals which explains it quite clearly. The best guide is not to think about the actual words but rather what you are singing about, and feel the spirit!

What we will do on 25.01.17


Porgy & Bess

Let it Shine

Songstream: How can I keep from singing

Tippett: By an’ by

Thank you – Peter





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