Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 28th September

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all looking forward to the weekend. I’ll start these notes off by saying another MASSIVE thank you to Rowena for stepping in to lead the first half of the rehearsal as I was stuck in traffic – 0.7 miles in 25 minutes... such fun! When I walked into the back of the rehearsal I just beamed as it sounded so great!

What we did on Wednesday 28th September

We did some great work on Movement 4 – it was so much fun being to explore the full range of expression with the text and musical ideas.

We started off with Movement 1, and got all the way through, with a little bit of note-bashing on the final section. I was told it went very well.

Then you learnt the 5th Movement, during which I arrived and managed to catch the end – it sounded great. I love the simplicity of that movement as the choir sits underneath the soloist singing a chorale-like melody. And the end, which we worked on, was just sublime.

After the break we had a look at the fugue section in the 3rd Movement (from page 38) – well done on picking this up; fugues are hard, and this is one of the hardest. I hope you’ll all remember the ‘subject’ and ‘counter-subject’ that we spoke about... it begins with the tenors, and everyone sang it through brilliantly.

Finally, to close off our ‘Brahms month’ we sang through the whole of the 2nd Movement. I still think this is my favourite, and I hope to perform this one at the Chipping Norton Music Festival next year, as it’s the perfect length and demonstrates so many impressive bits of singing!

What a joy it’s been to start on such an incredible piece with you all. Please do keep looking at the Brahms Requiem in anticipation of January, as you all know how hard it is now, and how much work we’ll need to do on it.

What we will do on Wednesday 5th October

October already... goodness me! We’re putting the Brahms to bed until the new year, and starting to look at our Christmas programme.

We’ll just be looking through the Corp A Christmas Mass and Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Christmas Carols this week, so if you’d like to do so, give those a listen in preparation, as well as looking at the marked score below.

Susannah will be in the church from around 7pm handing out music, so please do make sure you arrive in plenty of time to collect your copies.

Marked Scores

Below are the marked scores for Corp’s A Christmas Mass and Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols. Over the next few weeks I suggest sitting down with a glass of wine/gin/hot chocolate (your drink of choice) and putting these markings into your parts. The guide at the beginning should help you understand what each marking means. With everyone doing these markings – such as putting a breath in the right place – it saves us so much precious rehearsal time as I don’t need to stop to tell you what to do.

It took me many hours to put them all in, so I’d really appreciate it if you just find 30 minutes to mark up your own part... it really makes all the difference!

Marked scores for all of the pieces in ‘100 Carols for Choirs’ will follow.

Do give these a look as a heads-up before next week, and a listen down below.

Playlist for Christmas

HERE is the Spotify playlist for the Christmas programme. It’s designed to help you become more familiar with the programme, and to help you learn the music over the term; I often listen to these playlists in the car as I drive to and from Oxford!

If you’re new to Spotify, you can sign up really easily for a FREE(!) account, and listen to the playlist.

This Week’s listening

A very different musical musing, as I never normally share piano works.
As some of you may know, one of my other musical passions is orchestration – transforming a piece from one instrumentation into another. For example, the Verdi Stabat Mater we did in Spring I had orchestrated for our chamber orchestra, sizing it down from the huge symphony orchestra for which it was originally written. I’m currently working on Rachmaninoff’s 10 Preludes, Op. 23 – my favourite being Number 5. You can listen HERE.

See you on Wednesday.
– Ben