Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 18th October

Good afternoon friends, I hope you’ve all had a good week and are looking forward to wet October weekend. Just a quick one from me this week, as we’ll be sharing some announcements on Wednesday (and in the following Conductor’s Notes), so that’ll be the big one.

Thanks so much to Rowena for starting the warm up on Wednesday, and for your patience as I fought the weather and traffic to make it back. If you want to read more about the NYC Fellowship (the auditions and interviews I was helping with, and the programme I was lucky enough to have a place on in 2021) you can find out here.

What We Did – Wednesday 18th October

On Wednesday it was exactly 1 month until the concert.

We began by looking at the Letter K of Better is Peace from The Armed Man. we made sure the melodic line was smooth, and that all of the interesting and flowing inner parts were elegant and expressive. There were a couple of notes to tidy up, so please make sure you come with these perfected for the next time we look at it.

After this we ran the Bernstein. So many excellent things in this, so very well done with that all, and also congratulations for getting from one end to the other; it’s a very challenging work! The most helpful thing I can say at this stage is to keep familiarising yourselves with the text. I think the notes, on the whole, are pretty confident, we just need to know what’s coming and prepare for it, and that’s mainly to do with the text.

After the break we looked at the hand over of parts between the tenors and basses in the first movement. Make sure these are really confident, especially as it’s at the start of the concert! We also built up the power of bars 32 to 40, especially helping with the breaths. This explosion of power was also worked on in bars 66 to 85. Then, in the second movement we did a little bit of work on the sop/alto sections, especially on the tuning (be very careful of this)! Tenors and basses, we covered some of the text, slowly, in your section, and practiced the joins into bar 80 and between bars 99 to 102.

We ended with some good work on the Agnus Dei and the Benedictus. We thought about the onset of the sound of the word “Benedictus”, and then the beautiful flowing and connected line through the phrase. Sops, remember you continue the melody when you join the altos, so try and get the energy spinning before hand. The “Hosanna” must be nicely prepared, so use the breath to help find the space and support for that fanfare. The Agnus Dei was excellent, and sops you found a really warm and expressive sound. Try to feel more of the overlap of parts at the bottom of page 78 and beyond.

To catch up: If you missed this rehearsal, please sing through the Bernstein at home so you get a feel for what it’s like to do the whole thing. Please also look at the following movements in The Armed Man: 10. Agnus Dei, 12. Benedictus, and from Letter K in 13. Better is Peace.

What We’ll Do – Wednesday 25th October

We’ll begin with work on Angry Flames from The Armed Man. Then I’d like to run the latter half of the piece, from Angry Flames to the end of the piece. We’ll do a bit of work on those movements before taking a break.

After the break I’d like to split into sectionals for some very specific work:

Tenors and Basses (Bernstein ony)
Movement 1, bars 9-22
Movement 1, bars 46-47
Movement 2, bars 80-92 (if there’s time)
Movement 2, bars 99-102

Sopranos and Altos
Bernstein Movement 1, bars 22-28
Bernstein Movement 1, bars 40-46
Bernstein Movement 2, bars 102-119
Jenkins, Movement 7, Letter C

Marked Scores

Please scroll back to previous Conductor’s Notes for the marked scores. I’m trusting you’ve all got the markings in by now, and will be very sad if you don’t!

Learning Aids (Updated)

Spotify playlist is HERE.

Choralia links are:
Chichester Psalms
The Armed Man

CyberBass has the Bernstein on it, so you may find it useful HERE.

Please do put in the time to familiarise yourselves with the words. You can use THIS YouTube link as a good starting point.
THIS is another helpful recording of the 3rd movement, where the parts are sung individually.


The poster is below for you to share, and do make sure you take physical copies and plaster them round the local area.

The link to the tickets is also live now, so do share that and encourage a huge audience for this one; it’s going to be so special! The link is HERE.

Other Events

Two events to promote this week, check out the posters below. The first is NC3 with their new conductor’s inaugural concert, this Saturday (21st October) at St Mary’s Church Chipping Norton, 7:30pm. The second is the next CRAG concert, on Sunday 5th November at 3pm.

This Week’s listening

It’s fascinating listening to other composers’ settings of the same texts that we’re singing. I first sang this piece at university, and then programmed it with newCHOIR in my very first concert with them. The whole work is called The Passing of the Year, by Jonathan Dove, but I’d like to share with you the last movement: Ring out, wild bells. This sets some of the same text we sing in the last movement of the Jenkins – “Ring out the thousand wars of old” and “Ring happy bells across the snow”. Certainly a very different, yet equally exciting, take on the text.
You can listen to the fabulous Voces8 recording with Jonathan Dove himself playing HERE.

See you all on Wednesday 25th!