Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 1st November

Good morning friends, I hope you all had lovely weekends and enjoyed the fireworks. I’m hoping most of you will have got a notification letting you know that these notes are up, so if you’re reading this and didn’t get notified, make sure you sign up!

We’re almost there now, thank you for all your hard work. Keep practicing at home, it’s going to be a very special concert indeed!

What We Did – Wednesday 1st November

  • We started with an in-detail look at the “Christe” section of the Kyrie, ensuring our notes were correct, and that we were getting the feel for the polyphonic writing. Make sure all the entries are clear and come through the texture.
  • We then ran the first half of the Armed Man, from the beginning until Angry Flames.
  • Working backwards we looked at Charge, getting the right affect of the scream at the end. We also worked on the rhythm, so that it was nicely in time and not slowing down (as it did before) or rushing (as it did by the end).
    • Sops 2 and Altos, work extra hard on the text to help Sop 1s in the stratospheric sections.
  • We made sure the sound was rich and powerful with a real heat behind it in Hymn Before Action, and checked that first chord was correct.
  • In the Sanctus we worked on the rhythms, making sure it’s a full crotchet at the start, and a quaver in the Basses at Letter B. Also make the ‘S’ sounds as light and as short as possible.
    • TO CLARIFY: The opening of the Sanctus is 4 bars long, and then you come in. It’s a misprint in my copy!
  • We did a tiny bit of note checking in the opening movement.
  • We ended the rehearsal by top-and-tailing the Bernstein, including:
    • Movement 2, Bar 60 into the Tenor/Bass section, working on the rhythms and text.
    • Movement 2, Bar 80 needs to be more animalistic and aggressive – go for it Basses!
    • We did more work on the join between bars 99-103 in Movement 2.
    • We did the end of Movement 1, checking notes and words slowly.
    • We rehearsed some of the overlaps between parts in the main section of the 1st Movement.

To catch up: If you missed this rehearsal, please sing through the first half of the Armed Man and practice those sections in the Bernstein listed above.

What We’ll Do – Wednesday 8th and 15th November

It’s that point in the term, we’re really spot-checking all those tricky bits now, especially in finding our notes. Following last week’s run of the first half, the bits in the Armed Man and all the work we’ve done on the Bernstein I’d still like to do the following tutti in the Armed Man:

  • 1. The Armed Man – Opening, Letter C, Letter E, Letter G.
  • 3. Kyrie – Letter D.
  • 5. Sanctus – Opening, Letter B, Letter C (especially bar 30), Letter D.
  • 6. Hymn Before Action – Opening & Letter D.
  • 8. Angry Flames – All entries.
  • 9. Torches – Letter B.
  • 10. Agnus Dei – Opening & Letter A.
  • 12. Benedictus – Letter C & Letter D.
  • 13. Better is Peace – Letter C, Letters F & G (especially bars 84 & 99), Letter J, Letter K.

In sectionals I’d like to do:

  • 3. Kyrie – Letter F.
  • 4. Save Me From Bloody Men.

On the Bernstein, in tutti we’ll do:

  • Movement 1 – Opening, Bars 22-32, Bars 66-85, Bars 99-end.
  • Movement 2 – Bars 102-119.
  • Movement 3 – Bars 28-37, Bar 60-End.

In sectionals we’ll do:

  • Movement 1 – Bars 14-22, Bars 32-43, Bars 44-50.
  • Movement 2 – Bars 64-119 (TB), Bars 102-119 (SA).
  • Movement 3 – Bars 20-27 (TB).

We’ll spread this out over the final 2 Wednesday rehearsals.

Final Rehearsals and Concert Details

In order for me to get a grip on the choir we’ll have for the day, could I kindly ask that if you’re not singing in the concert you don’t attend rehearsals from now on. I’m very sorry about this, but it’s important for me to know.

As well as Wednesday 8th and 15th, we’ve also got our pre-concert rehearsal on Friday 17th, in St Mary’s Banbury. Please arrive for 7pm to get seated, and we’ll end at normal time of 9:30pm. Below is a rough seating plan for the day... I would find it helpful if you can start organising yourselves in this order now. A massive thanks to David Salter and his team who help set out chairs at the start of each rehearsal!

On the concert day, we’ll be rehearsing from 2pm – please be ready and seated for this time. It’ll allow us to do a bit of warming up and rehearsing the acapella sections before the orchestra joins us at 2:30pm. We’ll rehearse until 5pm, and then I’ll do a bit of work with the orchestra until 5:30pm.

Back ready to go for the concert by 7:10pm, and try to give yourselves a bit of ‘warming up’ time, as the Bernstein is first!

The concert dress is all black or black-tie (Black dinner jacket and trousers, black bowtie, white shirt).

Marked Scores & Learning Guides

To find the resources for this term, please go back to previous posts.


Final push to share the poster. At the time of writing we’ve only sold 20 tickets... we deserve a massive audience for this, so encourage your friends and families to come!

The link to tickets is HERE.

Christmas Lights Switch On

As I mentioned last week, we’ve been invited to sing at the switch on of the Chippy Christmas Lights. For this we’ll be singing some traditional carols and some modern favourites. I’m trying to find versions of music that are fairly easy, but due to the tight turn around and limitation of the day itself, I’m asking for a smaller choir of strong singers (comfortable singing in a section of fewer people, and happier with reading sheet music) to represent the Choral Society at this event.

Rehearsals will be after our regular rehearsals on Wednesday 15th and 22nd November (21:30-22:15), and we’ll be singing at the event from 17:40-18:30. I suggest we meet around 17:15, in order to get ourselves sorted and comfortable.

I’ve had a few people sign up, but we particularly need tenors and basses. I’m hoping to have a choir of 6,5,4,5 if possible.

Check out the poster Tania at the Town Hall has sent!

Other Events

Two events coming up this month, over the same weekend.
1) Another of my choirs, the OUP Choir, have their concert on Saturday 25th November. It’s really exciting for us as we’ll be joined by the Oxford Sinfonia, who’ll also be playing Copland’s amazing Appalachian Spring. Please do come and support us.
2) That same weekend, Eric is hosting the annual arts and crafts weekend, supported by some amazing artists. Do try and go to this, as the artists there contribute a small amount to the choir each year, so in return we need to support them!

This Week’s listening

Two short things for you this week – the first is the epic new trailer for the film Maestro, starring Bradley Cooper as Bernstein. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this film, especially as my friend Doug (the bass in our barbershop quartet) is in it, singing the background piece... the finale of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. Check out the trailer HERE.

I also wanted to share a completely unrelated piece; an absolutely joyous bit of Monteverdi – Zefiro Torna. No reason other than it’s a fantastic piece... Enjoy it HERE.

Thanks all, see you on the 8th November.