Conductor’s Notes – Wednesday 4th October

Good morning everyone, I hope you’re all well and have had a lovely start to the week. As I said in my last Notes, I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, but with just over a month to go I’d like to offer a friendly reminder to not let-up and keep practicing at home! It’s going to be such a stunning concert!

What We Did – Wednesday 4th October

We began by looking at the end of the final movement of the Bernstein, making sure we were happy with the notes, and then working on the blend and musicality of that delicate and serene ending. We then confirmed notes in bars 49-54, especially thinking about supporting the large leaps in each voice part. After this we put it all in context from bar 45 to the end.
Then we looked a little at the opening movement, beginning at the 7/4 – we sang through all the way to bar 65. Some good things here, and in general the uptake of each new part is good, though we could of course spend more time on it. I worked a little with the tenors and basses at bars 33, really trying to spit out the text and the rhythms.

After the break we looked at the last movement of The Armed Man. Once we’d done a smidgen of music theory to help us understand the notation of 12/8 time (a dotted minim only lasting 2 whole beats, or half-a-bar) we secured Letter E and made sure the rhythms were accurate by slowing it down and speaking our parts; same thing at bar 84 and 85.
To end the rehearsal we looked at the opening movement of the Jenkins, checking that we are happy with the notes as the parts become more complicated in the harmony, and then ensuring the ending is accurate – the repeat bars are observed, the rhythm change on page 14 is noted, and the end is short and loud but not forced.

To catch up: If you missed this rehearsal, you can catch up by ensuring you’re happy with the notes in the sections above, and practice the points above about rhythms and notes.

What We’ll Do – Wednesday 11th October

7 rehearsals to go, including this one and the Friday rehearsal – as I said at the start, keep up this excellent momentum!

We’ll start with Angry Flames from The Armed Man, before splitting into sectionals to work on the Bernstein – T/B will begin with Ro, working on the opening to the last movement and then the opening to the first movement, and S/A will work with me on the first and second movements.
After the break, I’d like to look at the 2nd movement of the Bernstein with T/B, while Ro works with S/A on letter K of the last movement of the Armed Man. We’ll come back together to sing the last movement of the Bernstein, all of the way through, having covered it all!

A heads up – next week (the 18th October) I’d like to run the Chichester Psalms so we know, at this stage, what it’s like to get from one end to the other.

Marked Scores

ALTOS – This is for you. I’d like to add you in to a couple of bars with the tenors, just to help out with the balance. We’re lucky to have strong tenors, but we’re still a little low on numbers so I’m hoping this will help out and support our tenor friends. We’ll go through this on Wednesday, but if you get a chance to put it in before the rehearsal that would be great!

Learning Aids

As I try to do for each term, I’ve provided some learning aids for our programme this term. You can hear the full playlist on Spotify HERE.

As both the Bernstein and Jenkins are still in copyright, practice files are hard to come by free of charge. However, there are the ever-delightfully tinny Choralia links below:
Chichester Psalms
The Armed Man

I believe John Fletcher has rehearsal files for both works on his site, but those are both subscription-only.

We’ll be doing a lot of pronunciation work on the Chichester Psalms over the next couple of months as it’s in Hebrew. Please don’t let this scare you, it’s not too difficult. If you want to get ahead of the game, there are a few pronunciation guides on YouTube, including THIS.
There are even a few helpful recordings such as THIS, for the 3rd movement, where the parts are sung individually.

There’ll be lots of help for this term, but do feel free to do your own exploration of these pieces.


Our poster is available now, and looks incredible – huge thanks to Brian for his spectacular work on it!

It’s going to be such an amazing concert, so please spread the poster far and wide!!

This Week’s listening

This week I wanted to share with you some of Bernstein’s work as a conductor, not just as a composer. The listening this week is arguably his most famous bit of conducting work – the finale of Mahler’s monumental Symphony no. 2 – ‘Resurrection’. It’s just utterly stunning, and you can see just how much Bernstein simply embodies the music. I think it perfectly resonates with a quote of his: “If I don’t become Brahms or Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky when I’m conducting their works, then it won’t be a great performance.”

Enjoy the finale from Mahler’s 2nd Symphony HERE.

See you all on Wednesday 11th!