Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 2nd November

Nothing quite like throwing ourselves into the month of November with an evening of Christmas carols! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. A lot of ‘extra bits’ this week, so I’ll keep this part short, but please keep reading until the end.

What we did on Wednesday 2nd November

We started with Coventry Carol immediately starting work on finding true character in the text and telling the story. Then we did Good King Wenceslas, focussing mainly on the final verse which is a little more fiddly than the others – just recap that at home to keep it fresh. In the bleak mid-winter followed, and we went through the verses we’ll all be doing, then the S/A verse and the T/B verse. We ended the first half with a sing-through of Ding dong! and looked especially at keeping it light, and how to create contrast amongst the verses.

After the break, we began with Past three a clock and started learning our notes, as well as learning to read verses which are separate to the music; this will become easier with time. Then, the ‘biggest’ one of this week: O come, O come, Emmanuel. Not only is this a geographical nightmare, it’s in ‘short score’ so we need to be certain which notes we’re singing and not get put off by other parts – it’s worth singing this one through with the Spotify playlist a few times! We then looked briefly at Silent Night, which we’ll do a lot more work on soon, but a good start to verse 1 & 3. Finally, we finished with Jingle Bells – again, geographically tricky (be ready to turn back to the start, and to the Coda), and we’ll break it down part by part to learn the fiddly inner parts.

What we will do on Wednesday 9th November

Sectionals this week! We’ll start upstairs together for a warm up and Past three a clock. Then Sops and Altos will stay upstairs with me, Tenors and Basses downstairs with Rowena, working on the Credo of the Corp. After the break we’ll do some sectionals on the first and last sections of the Fantasia on Christmas Carols. For the final 15 minutes or so, we’ll head back upstairs to sing the Kyrie of the Corp.

Marked Scores

As always, the marked score – it’ll be up on every post, it’s that important! I hope you’ve all put the markings in, as most of you have had your copies for 5 weeks now... 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.

Wednesday 30th November

As advanced warning – we’ll be having our rehearsal on Wed 30th Nov in St Mary’s Church, Chipping Norton (where the concert will be), due to a clash in the Methodist Church.

Remaining Rehearsals This Term

I was asked to remind everyone of our remaining rehearsals for the term:

Wednesday 9th, Wednesday 16th, Wednesday 23rd, Wednesday 30th.

Wednesday 7th, Wednesday 14th, Friday 16th, Saturday 17th.

Friday 16th & Saturday 17th December

The Friday rehearsal will be in the venue (St Mary’s Church, Chippy), and will be normal time; 19:30-21:30.

On Saturday, the rehearsal will also be at the venue, and will be 14:00-17:00, for a 19:30 concert (giving people plenty of time to go home, change, have dinner, relax and rest in between).

We’ll have the Parish Rooms on the day (which will be locked when unoccupied) so we can change and leave everything in there while we sing.

Concert dress: Always the topic we have the most questions for.
It’s either all black or dinner jackets. It’ll also be cold in the winter, so make sure you’re wearing layers, and aren’t showing too much skin. Please also wear things like black socks – it can be quite noticeable if you wear bright pink...

Section Reps

With all our new members this term, I thought it might be wise to introduce/remind everyone who your fabulous section reps are. On Wednesday, I’ll invite them to stand so you can see who they are.

Soprano: Rachel
Alto: Naomi
Tenor: Peter
Bass: Bill

Any feedback, questions, or comments, please feel free to talk to them, or of course email me or Eric directly – we’re always here to chat.

This Week’s listening

My free choice this week, no reason or motivation behind it other than I’ve been listening to it as I write these notes; Shostakovich’s incredible Symphony no. 10. This turbulent and tumultuous symphony is one of Shostakovich’s more well known symphonic works, but is still incredibly underrated.
It features Shostakovich’s infamous ‘DSCH motive’ – an musical cryptogram of his name, which spells out the notes D, E-flat, C, B natural in the German note-naming system (D, Es, C, H – pronounced as “De-Es-Ce-Ha”).
My favourite movement is the fiery and exciting Second Movement. In the book Testimony (the memoirs of Shostakovich) it says: I wrote it right after Stalin’s death and no one has yet guessed what the symphony is about. It’s about Stalin and the Stalin years. The second part, the scherzo, is a musical portrait of Stalin, roughly speaking.

You can listen to an explosive performance by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra HERE.

Sorry for the long one, thanks for reading!
See you on Wednesday 9th.
– Ben