Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 15th February

What a good rehearsal we had, especially with the new piano in the hall, yay! We’ve now seen, in detail, every single bar of the piece, so well done on that achievement; now begins the really hard work...

What we did on Wednesday 15th February

We began by singing through the opening of Movement III Herr, lehre doch mich which went well and you remembered a lot of what we did – it’ll need a little bit of refining though. Well read through from Letter E; you engaged with the shapes of the phrases well, but please have a look at the notes at home. At Letter F we needed to bring out the main melody, first seen in the Basses. Well done on the Ich hoffe auf dichs at 164 – there was a lot of beautiful singing here, we just need to nail down the notes. We then had a very valiant attempt at singing through the fugue, and we did get all the way through it. Again, notes-wise, we’ll look at this, and do some ensemble work on it, but I’d be so grateful if you could look at this section.

After the break we split off for sectionals to rehearse the Movement VI (Denn wir haben hie) fugue, beginning at bar 208. In the same way we learnt the fugue in the 3rd movement, we looked at the subject and then the counter-subject. In our sectionals we sang through as much as possible, stopping to work on tricky corners and to find where to bring out the melody. Enjoy page 77, it’s my favourite part of the fugue. We then came back together to finish off the rehearsal with a Tutti, singing through this Fugue. Very well done!

What we will do on Wednesday 1st March

A REMINDER: there is NO rehearsal on the 22nd February!

On the 1st March (goodness me!) we’ll begin with Letter C in Movement II Denn Alles Fleisch, before working on Bar 206 onwards (Die Erloeseten) – this is all in preparation for the Chipping Norton Music Festival on Saturday 11th March. We’ll then look at the Movement VI Fugue (bar 208) in a full tutti, so please come with these notes prepared!

After the break we’ll split off into sectionals to refresh the Movement III Fugue (page 38, bar 173), before coming back together to work on it.

We’re now in the hardest part of the rehearsals – really detailed refinement of the music, so make sure you come with notes and text as prepared as you are able to!

Important Dates This Term

As I mentioned on Wednesday, here are the important dates, times and locations you need to know for the rest of the term. We still have regular Wednesday rehearsals, obviously.

Saturday 11th March: Chipping Norton Music Festival
– Location: Chipping Norton Town Hall
– ‘Class’ time: 14:15 (performing second, around 14:25)
– Meet at: 13:45 downstairs in the Town Hall
– Dress: All Black
– Other information: We’ll be singing Movement II of the Brahms (Denn Alles Fleisch) – do support the other choirs.

Friday 24th March: Rehearsal in venue
– Location: St Mary’s Church, Banbury
– Times: 19:30-21:30

Sunday 26th March: Concert Day
– Location: St Mary’s Church, Banbury
– Set-up time: 13:00 – as many people to help set up both choir and orchestra as possible please
– Rehearsal: 14:30-17:30, but hopefully finishing earlier, around 17:00
– Concert arrival: Back at the church at 19:10 – dressing rooms provided (I believe)
– Concert: 19:30 concert (no interval), finishing around 21:00
– Dress: Concert dress – either all black or dinner jacket – more details soon

Marked Scores

As you’ve got a whole week off now, that’s plenty of time to make sure these markings are all in! It’s so important to know the details of the music, especially where to breathe and where we’re putting consonants. If you see your neighbour without these markings in, give them a gentle nudge...

Recommended Recordings

There are many fabulous recordings of this piece, including this one by the late great Bernard Haitink.

However, we’re doing an incredible version for chamber orchestra, with our friends from the Adderbury Ensemble. In this chamber arrangement, the arranger (Joachim Linckelmann) keeps all of the wonderful colours and atmospheres of the original orchestration, but reduces the orchestra to a manageable size. This is my recommended recording, and you can listen HERE.

Learning Resources

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there to assist you in your learning – please take the time to listen to the learning tracks, and to digest this piece properly; it’s tricky, and you’ll need to be on it.

Pronunciation Guide
We’ll be doing lots of work on the German pronunciation, and will be getting some coaching through the rehearsals too. However, you can make a good head-start on it by listening to this Pronunciation Guide.

Chord Perfect
These learning tracks are great as they are real singers amplified for the respective voice parts! It may help you to have real singers leading your learning, and it’s free! Just be aware that the ‘wobble’ on each voice can be quite pronounced (great for Brahms, but can lead to slightly flat singing if you slow it down).
Bass 1
Bass 2

John Fletcher Music
Another great aid in learning, particularly as you can isolate your part or have all parts together. The sound is clear and easy to pick up, but it doesn’t do text. Check it out here.

The most flexible option here as you can speed it up/slow it down, get certain voices to become more prominent, and it has a click track to help you keep in time. However, it’s the most rudimentary sound of the lot, so try not to sound too ‘computer-like’. Have a look.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you find these don’t help then feel free to do your own digging. The most important thing is that you engage with this, and put the time in at home to learn it. We all saw the difference it made over 3 days for the Christmas concert... imagine how incredible you’ll sound if you start now!

Discovering Music – Brahms Requiem

I came across a wonderful documentary about the influences of the Requiem, as part of the BBC’s Discovering Music programme. It’s very interesting, and well worth a listen! You can hear it HERE.

Poster and Tickets

Below is the wonderful poster Brian has produced, so start sharing it far and wide. You can also get your tickets HERE.

CRAG Concert

Many thanks to Fran for sharing another CRAG concert – it’s at 3pm on Sunday 5th March. Do go and support this wonderful concert series.

This Week’s listening

A piece I’ve been listening to, as we approach Passiontide, and one every year I yearn to sing: Antonio Lotti’s heart-breaking Crucifixus. The opening is absolutely stunning, riddle with suspensions, each part continues from the last until the music reaches a ‘grounding point’ where all parts sing in homophony. Then the ‘two choirs’ sing against each other, and the piece comes to a scrunchy climax before petering out to a forlorn ending. Taken from part of the Creed text, it’s most fitting as we look towards Passiontide as it speaks of Jesus’s sacrifice. You can listen HERE.

Have a lovely break and see you on Wednesday 1st March.
– Ben