Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 12th October

Oh dear! This week has completely run away with me and I can’t believe it’s only one more sleep until we sing together again! Huge apologies for the delay in getting these notes to you all. I’ll keep it short this week, so you can all glance over it before tomorrow.

What we did on Wednesday 12th October

Due to it being Vaughan Williams’s 150th anniversary, we began with the homophonic section after letter E, making sure we were all thinking and listening together, keeping the energy alive, and telling the story. Then we looked at the more florid sections in this opening section, doing them to ‘do’ so we could line it up perfectly. It was great to start understanding how the parts were integrated with each other, and how the music was passed between each section of the choir.

After the break we worked backwards through the Corp, starting with the Agnus Dei. It’s always amusing seeing how long it takes people to realise which Christmas carol they’re singing! Remember to keep it light from bar 73 onwards.
Then we sang the Benedictus on page 27, and the final “Osanna” – again, light and bouncy!
We ended the rehearsal by singing from bar 47 in the Sanctus, doing a good deal of work on the pass-over of melody between the voices (similar to the Vaughan Williams), as well as the joy needed for the “Osanna” on page 27.

What we will do on Wednesday 19th October

This week we’ll begin with the Gloria from the Corp, and work well on getting the notes and sections together. We’ll then look at the opening of the Sanctus, understanding its strange harmonic progressions, and joining it up with what we did last week. We’ll end with the Vaughan Williams, rehearsing the ending from letter W.

Marked Scores

Here are all of the Marked Scores you’ll need for this term. Over the next few weeks I suggest sitting down with a glass of wine/gin/hot chocolate (your drink of choice) and putting these markings into your parts. The guide at the beginning should help you understand what each marking means. With everyone doing these markings – such as putting a breath in the right place – it saves us so much precious rehearsal time as I don’t need to stop to tell you what to do.

It took me many hours to put them all in, so I’d really appreciate it if you just find 30 minutes to mark up your own part... it really makes all the difference.
I’d be very grateful if they could be in by the time we come back from half-term in 4 weeks (this is my nice way of saying “I expect these to be in by then, please!” – haha!)

Playlist for Christmas

The Spotify playlist is designed to help you become more familiar with the programme, and to help you learn the music over the term. You can listen to it HERE.

If you’re new to Spotify, you can sign up really easily for a FREE(!) account, and listen to the playlist.

Learning Resources

As well as the Spotify Playlist above, there are a couple of helpful learning resources for our two main works in the programme:

John Fletcher Music A Christmas Mass
This is a paid-for site, but certainly a useful one, and one of the only places you can find rehearsal tracks for the Corp. Worth investing in if you know you might need the help with note-learning outside of rehearsals.

Choralia – Fantasia on Christmas Carols
It’s very, very rough and ready, but it might help in learning the notes... take it with a pinch of salt...

This Week’s listening

Due to it being Vaughan Williams’s 150th anniversary, a couple of pieces, depending on how much time you have.

Firstly, for those who have 40 minutes spare: Symphony no. 6 in E minor. A dark, tumultuous work, that’s about as far from what one might consider Vaughan Williams’s ‘traditional style’. You can read about it here, too.

For those with only 4 minutes: Silent Noon from The House of Life. While this beautiful song is fairly well known, the whole song cycle is not. You can read about it here.

See you on Wednesday.
– Ben