Greetings from The Man in the Front

How is everyone doing ‘out there’? I hope you’re keeping body and soul together and adjusting to the change of pace and (lack of) activities demanded of us at this awful time. I’m keeping busy, but it would be SO nice to leave the house and do something in addition to shopping, walking the dog and exercising! I have been cycling, and the kayak is out of storage ready to launch on the canal – I can’t really complain. I would look for teddy bears but there are none to be found in Cropredy, unlike Ascott and Stourton! To help Brian’s list of titles with ‘bear’ puns, I googled ‘best songs with bear in the title’. Out of 67, the most worthy was the recitative from the Messiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son” Really?! Still, a tenuous link for those of you learning Messiah for May, eh?

I am thinking of you all, particularly when Wednesday evenings hove into view and especially this week as it was to be our concert on Saturday 😔. I wonder how the Rossini would have gone? Brilliantly of course! We would have loved the quirkiness of the harmonium and marvelled at Anne Pages amazing playing. We would have given Stewart Taylor (piano) a hero’s welcome as he was The Man in the Front until 1997 and probably noticed, as he feared, that his DJ is now a bit on the tight side. We’d have been overwhelmed by the brilliant soloists – so good and so young! You would all have been wowed by your success and just how confident you felt compared with Belshazzar’ Feast, and definitely hungry for more. My prognostications lead me to suspect that post concert, apart from ‘congratulations’, I would be saying: The Kyrie opening really set the standard, with amazing dynamics, the cum sancto was great but not as taut as in the music festival and the Et vitam on page 150 just ripped along with a crazy ‘Amens’ at the end. The Agnus dei was to die for, so expressive, and pages 209/10 were definitely the gratification so long deferred from the beginning, well done.
Let’s keep this script for October, or whenever the concert happens. It will feel all the more exciting as our lives will have seemed so impoverished, and occupying a beautiful church with hundreds other people, some closer than 2m (keep selling those tix eh?!) will feel surreal.

I am delighted to hear that quite a few members are participating in some of the online singing opportunities, that’s great. I know a few are involved in The Messiah. Although it must feel odd to be singing on your own and not to hear the rest of the choir (some might think this a good thing!), it can be quite moving to know that you are connecting in a shared endeavour with others and part of something bigger. Keeping that spirit alive is so important; good luck to everyone involved. I have been dipping into Gareth Malone’s sessions – interesting. They may not challenge you in ways you are used to but The Quarantine Choir and the Sofa Singers might. One significant advantage of this online collective singing of course is that you develop a very different relationship with the The Man in the Front. Someone pointed out that they find one of the new conductors to be wonderful because “he never tells us off for not looking....and he never tells the basses off for getting behind” . Touché – let’s call that 15 all!

I’d like to leave you with this delightful Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.