Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 15th March

Brilliant work this week, we managed to get through a lot, consolidating lots of hard sections, and refining plenty of points from last week’s run-through. I also offer my huge congratulations for Saturday’s performance! I was incredibly pleased with how it went, especially considering we were so many in such a tight space, and had barely any warm up...

Lots of important things in these notes, including details for the concert, and dates for next term.

What we did on Wednesday 15th March

We looked at Movement 1 Letter B, making sure the notes at the entry were correct but spent most of our focus on the change in character to the bouncy and lively “werden mit Freuden” – Sopranos are our pivot point to making that sprightly, and tenors infuse the energy (same thing at the top of page 7). After this we checked the notes at Letter C, basses in particular in finding that A natural – think a nice, bright, happy major third there! Finally, before Letter F, Sopranos don’t be put off by the C in the accompaniment and secure that nice strong D to kick us off. Everyone else follow with twice as much energy to keep the sound alive.

Then we started on Movement 3, ‘rolling’ the H in “Herr”, which gives us a lovely atmosphere. Keep everything absolutely metronomic, which will provide that harrowing character we need here! We then did lots of good work on the fugue (bar 173), including bringing out the entries in each voice part, keeping the counter-subject alive (crescendo through the long notes), and started pointing out the ‘duet voices’; these include: T/B bar 180, T/B bar 188, T/B bar 191/2, and then all four parts in 196 and 198. Tenors, punch out the rhythm at Letter G and bar 186 when it’s on the beat!

We finished the first half of the rehearsal by starting the 4th movement, getting back into that gentle mindset. Careful with the entries at Letter A – Tenors, you made this sound absolutely beautiful, just please think about the blend in the whole section; Basses, try to remember the starting note, and keep it in the same ‘upper’ position as the top D. We then practiced Letter B a Capella, which was very good practice to listen out, and to stay strong with the harmonic progressions.

After the break we did some fantastic sectional work on bar 82 of Movement 6, confirming notes, and making sure the timbre was really pure (not forced) but still powerful. Just remember to think about the end of words, particularly final consonants such as unverweslich! Good note confirmation in the fugue at 208 too – I can tell that people have been working really hard on this at home, solidifying their notes. With just over a week to go, you all need to feel confident being shepherds, not sheep! We came back together to put it all together, paying particular attention to entrances of parts, and not rushing the counter-subject in the fugue. We finished by doing some quality work on my favourite section, top of page 77 – giving it the “Preis und Ehre” it deserves (praise and honour).

Very well done, we’re now in the final push, so keep going with the learning, it’s going to be such a special night!

Please note where we’ll be sitting and standing:
Make sure these are marked in your copies.

Sit – before the start of the piece once you’re on stage.
Stand on my cue – for the opening.
Sit on my cue – at the end of Movement 2.
Stand – in bar 122 of Movement 3 (I won’t show you this, make sure it’s in your copy!).
Sit on my cue – at the end of Movement 4.
Stand on my cue – at the end of Movement 5.

Remember, when singing seated, sit well so you can still produce a great sound, particularly the beautiful choral lines in movement 5.

What we will do on Wednesday 22nd March

You’ll be led by the incredible Janet Lincé (my former conducting teacher) – she’s incredibly precise and thorough, so sing well for her, and make sure you’ve practiced it... I know you’ll all be on your best behaviour, haha!

You’ll start with Letter E in Movement 3, working on the lyrical lines, and then the precise entries at Letter F. Please also check your entries at the bottom of page 37 (bar 164), as these were a little rough in the run. After this you’ll look at the punchy entrances of bar 123 in Movement 4, ensuring the entry notes are clean.

After the break Janet will rehearse Movement 5, focusing on the entrances, especially around bar 34 and 43, and then the ending. This wasn’t bad in the run, just needed more confidence. To finish, you’ll go through Movement 6 Letter E to the start of the fugue in bar 208, and if there’s time look at Letter L to the end in the fugue.

Please note, you will be in the Methodist Church on Wednesday 22nd March!

Chipping Norton Music Festival

A huge well done for this, I was so proud to be directing you all. I’ll share the feedback sheet at the end of the term, but for now reflect on what went well, what needs work from you personally, and focus on the concert.

Marked Scores

I think I might have a crying fit if these aren’t in by now... take the time to put everything in and not let the team down!

BBC Singers

As you will all probably know by now, and as I mentioned in the rehearsal, the appalling decision to axe our only full-time professional choir (along with cutting the English-based BBC orchestras) has hit the musical world horribly. It’s absolutely offensive to our cultural presence, viewed so highly across the globe, and will have such a serious knock-on effect in inspiring the next generation of professional musicians, whom we should be encouraging so strongly.

You can support the BBC Singers in a number of ways, but the most important one is to sign this petition HERE.

If you still don’t quite get what the fuss is about, listen to their live performance of the Brahms Requiem; enjoy it, learn from it, and imagine our country without that professional ensemble... it’s unthinkable! Check out the recording HERE.

Learning Resources

As well as the resources we’ve been using (found in previous posts), David Fitt (bass) has very kindly produced this guide to help with some of the pronunciation. Please look over it and use it as it’s great!

Poster and Tickets

Below is the wonderful poster Brian has produced: I hope you’ve been sharing it far and wide.
You can also get your tickets HERE.

Summer Dates

As the end of this term fast approaches, please put in your diary the dates for next term.

Summer concert – “Summer is icumen in” – madrigals, part-songs, and folk-songs

Rehearsals: Wednesdays 19th April – 14th June.
Half term: Wednesday 31st May.
Friday rehearsal: Friday 16th June.
Concert: Saturday 17th June.
Concert venue: St Mary’s Church, Chipping Norton.

Mozart Requiem – Sing Day for Shauni

Rehearsals: Wednesdays 21st June – 5th July.
Sing Day: Sunday 9th July.
Sing Day venue: Chipping Norton Town Hall & St Mary’s Church, Chipping Norton.

Have a great rehearsal with Janet on the 22nd March.
– Ben