Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 16th November

Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend so far. I’m really pleased with the progress so far with this term, but we’re now at the stage of ramping it up to ensure we get to the finish line. This means a bit of personal practice and constant familiarisation with the music, especially by listening to it.

What we did on Wednesday 16th November

We started by looking at letter Aa in the Fantasia on Christmas Carols, clarifying all the details in the unison sections, and then working on the ‘bell-like’ motifs of letter Dd. Then we tidied up the end, which ended up sounding beautiful – remember this and keep it like that! Then we worked backwards and went from letter H, with the Tenors and Basses needing a reminder to be energetic as they enter, encouraging everyone to join in. There was good work done on page 11 to keep the music smooth and flowing. After this, we went back to the beginning to put together our hard work from the sectionals the previous week. Very well done with this, as it’s really hard. We’ll do a smidgen more work on this, especially in order to listen to each other and ensure the ensemble is really good.

After the break we worked on the Credo from the Corp. Excellent work on putting it all together from the sectionals week. Having touched up a few notes in entries (such as the bottom of page 15), we did some good detailed work on these changing sections. It’s really important that we keep listening to the recordings of the Corp so it doesn’t come as a shock when we sing/hear music we recognise as we jump between sections. We did some excellent work on the diction on pages 19 & 20. And finally, to end the rehearsal, we worked on page 23, the “Amen”s. Keep it lively, flowing and excited, and it’ll be a spectacular end to the movement. The next step to this is to help it flow a bit more, which will come with practice.

What we will do on Wednesday 23rd November

A bit more work on the opening of the Fantasia on Christmas Carols, really ensuring there’s a good sense of ensemble. Then we’ll have a short refresher of the Sanctus in the Corp (please go and listen to this to remind yourself of how the harmony sounds), and finish the first hour with 10 minutes on Jingle Bells.
In the second half of the evening we’ll be having our AGM.

Marked Scores

As I reiterated on Wednesday... Please take the time to put the markings in. As always, the marked score – it’ll be up on every post, it’s that important! Make sure you’re not the person who breathes (or puts a consonant) in the wrong place!

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...

RFMS Archives – Music from 100 Carols for Choirs
Susannah very kindly shared with me this website which has all of the guide tracks on for everything in 100 Carols for Choirs! Again, rough and ready, but hopefully it’ll help with the learning of notes!


As you’ll have seen last week, we have posters and fliers available! Take these and disperse them everywhere! Also, share the one below on social media and online.
Charlotte has also set up the Facebook event, so share that too if you’re on Facebook.

Other Forthcoming Events

Firstly, Arts and Crafts in the Barn. As I said when I shared this before, this is a great opportunity to support local artists, and in turn they support us, so do go along this weekend to check it out.
Secondly, a shameless bit of self promotion – if you’re not already going to the Banbury Symphony Orchestra concert (see previous Conductor’s Notes) – the OUP Choir I conduct are doing not only the Fauré Requiem but Vaughan Williams’s brilliant Five Mystical Songs, as part of his 150th celebrations. It would be lovely to see a few friendly faces in the audience.

This Week’s listening

I first came across this work a few months ago on the radio, when it was first released and as of earlier this week, it has won an Ivors Composers Award. It’s an incredibly moving and inspirational piece by composer Hannah Conway called Paul. As Hannah’s website says: “Paul was written by composer Hannah Conway and writer Hazel Gould after many hours of interviews and collaborative conversation with Paul Jameson who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017. The piece invites audiences to understand what ‘voice’ means to Paul as he loses his speech. Paul is a ‘dual aria’ a piece for one character (Paul), though sung by two performers: Paul Jameson (the real voice) and baritone Roderick Williams (Paul’s imagined voice).”
I listened to this on my way to Chippy on the In Tune programme on Radio 3, where you can hear Hannah discuss the work at 1:12:40. Alternatively, you can just listen to the piece HERE.

See you on Wednesday 23rd.
– Ben