Pre-Start Conductor’s Notes

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all well and have had a lovely Easter break? I was hoping to get these notes out to you sooner but end-of-term-itis, a busy Easter, and a much needed break meant I never got round to writing these, so thank you for your patience.

Below is feedback for the Spring concert, information about next term, some exciting events coming up, and plenty more! Thank you for reading these notes, and I look forward to seeing you all on Wednesday 17th for our first rehearsal back!

Concert Feedback

Well, what can I say about that concert other than “Wow!” – it was amazing! A huge well done to you all for pulling it out the bag. From the beginning I’d been saying ‘I’ll all come together with the band on the day’, and I was right! You all absolutely nailed it!

The Shearing was great fun, and an excellent way to start the concert. It all felt relaxed and joyful, but committed and exciting at the same time. The first two movements in particular I thought were brilliantly sung, and the balance between parts was spot on; the text was really clear too, in the T/B section of Live with me, and the soprano solis in When daffodils. It was a lover was full of life and just a pleasure to romp through with you all – I could feel the audience’s smiles through the back of my head! Who is Silvia was just stunning! So beautifully sung with a real sense of line and phrasing. It was genuinely incredibly moving to conduct such a lush sound coming from 80 people, all committed to making the best quality sound possible. The ensemble was great, and really paid off doing all that work in rehearsals. Fie on sinful fantasy was short and sweet, but incredibly accurate! Thank you to Callum for his excellent glissando in this one, haha! And finally Hey, ho, the wind and the rain wrapped the Shearing up brilliantly, and everyone’s bright faces at the end perfectly encapsulated the piece. It would be impossible for me to talk about the Shearing and not mention Rowena, who’s accompanying in the concert, and through term, was impeccable! We’re so lucky to have you Ro, and it was a pleasure to perform the Shearing with you in-concert! Thank you for all your hard work in rehearsals and sectionals – we’d be lost without you!

A massive thank you also to Karen and her quartet for playing so wonderfully in the concert! What a joy it was to hear you in your element in that set you played! Most of the choir will know Karen in her capacity as an alto in the choir, but how incredible it was to hear you ‘do your day job’ and play for us! Thank you also for fixing such a good band – the solos were so much fun to watch, and everyone accompanied the choir so respectfully, supporting us throughout the Todd expertly!

The highlight of the evening was, naturally, the Todd! You absolutely smashed it!! So much energy. So much focus. And all the hard work you put in over the term paid off immeasurably in the final performance. I thought the opening of the Kyrie set the mood for the work, feeling confident and committed. The energy continued to build in the movement, and although there were a couple of less-confident moments, you captured the style of the movement perfectly. The Gloria was on the whole absolutely excellent, and each of the sections were handled brilliantly. I particularly enjoyed the 5/8 section which had an awesome lilt and felt playful yet grounded at the same time. The Credo was a lot of fun and we really gave it our all in that heavy bluesy style. The softer bits too were very well sung – looking back on it we could have maybe made it a bit quieter, but that’s something to work on for next time. All the fast stuff felt, on the whole, secure, so well done for this! My word, the Sanctus was beautiful! Sops and altos in particular, well done for the opening, it was so lovely! I want to commend you in particular for your direction in this movement; it felt like there was a great structure to it, and took us on a well-rounded journey. Then the Benedictus was, of course, amazing fun. From the off you could tell it had a fun and somewhat cheeky mood, so thank you basses for getting us going with that! With each entry it got more and more raucous, and the audience could feel that electric energy! All the key changes worked perfectly, and the “Hosanna”s had a really exciting buzz to them, leading to an epic climax at the end. And finally the Agnus Dei – this movement always felt ‘lacking in direction’ to me, and to those I spoke to about it. However, with the band, and the energy you all brought, it really came alive and made sense! What an amazing way to end the concert. I must apologise to those who have said they felt that the final fast section was quick... it was... I just got way too excited because it sounded so amazing!

And a final huge congratulations to Becca Wilkins who sang so brilliantly in the Mass. So many people have commented on how great it was to have Becca with us, all of which I’ve passed on to her. She’s so grateful for the love and support, and if you’d like to stay in touch with what she’s up to, sign up to her mailing list HERE.

A massive thank you to all the Committee and helpers who work so hard to make these events work. Without the dedicated team of people who run the concerts and help with the logistics of everything, we really couldn’t do any of this. We have such an amazing team of people who work behind the scenes, so next time you see one of them doing their hard work, please thank them!

Another great concert everyone, here’s to the next!

Summer Term

We begin rehearsing for our summer term this week, and I can’t wait to introduce you to some fun and exciting music. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and as you’ll see from the music we’ll be trying some new things.

Rehearsals begin on Wednesday 17th April.
We’ll take a break for half term on Wednesday 29th May.
We’ve got the Friday evening rehearsal in the church on Friday 14th June.
The concert is on Saturday 15th June in St Mary’s Church, Chipping Norton. The rehearsal on the day will be 2pm-5pm.
This concert is like the previous summer ones with me, so bring a picnic for the churchyard, and expect lots of Pimms!

We’ve got another performance opportunity on Sunday 30th June as part of the Chipping Norton Festival. The performance will begin at 13:45, and will be a chance for our new Cotswold Youth Choir to join us. Please save this date in the diary!

As part of the summer term, I’m looking for a small semi-chorus to sing one of our pieces, Robert Parson’s Ave Maria. If you’d be interested in this, please let me know. You’ve got until the 3rd rehearsal to let me know (1st May).

Marked Scores

On Wednesday you’ll get a booklet with the music in, as well as Elgar’s From the Bavarian Highlands. Both are available here, so please do put the markings in the Elgar once you’ve got it (I’ve already done the booklet for you).

Just a quick note on the marked scores – if you have a hire copy, please try to only put essential markings into your copies. we had a very quick turnaround for the Todd scores, and had an amazing team of people rubbing out all 70 copies... and it took the best part of a day between 10 of us. I’ve tried to help with this in my markings, putting ‘essentials’ in red, and ‘desirables’ in blue. Thank you for putting the markings in, it really does help with rehearsals.

Cotswold Youth Choir

This week we also begin rehearsals with the Cotswold Youth Choir! It would be great to get as many young people along as possible, so please do share the poster far and wide it’s not too late to sign up!

Future Events

Some excellent events coming up, so do check them out below.

There are also 2 more amazing opportunities I’ve been asked to share:

The Music Summer School and Festival

Dartington Trust’s ChoralFest

This Week’s listening

I wanted to share with you a lovely piece from the concert I’m doing with newCHOIR this term – it’s a setting of the Magnificat by Durante, formerly attributed to Pergolesi. An excellent work filled with joy, slush, and Baroque goodness.

Listen HERE.

See you all on Wednesday to get started with our summer term!