IMG_8969Well we can hardly believe a year has gone by since the last Summer School, but it has! This year we’ve moved from the University of Nottingham to Trent College. We wondered if those few extra miles out of Nottingham might put people off, but no! Bigger and hopefully even better than ever. A choir of 70+ and an orchestra of 80+ meeting together for three days of rehearsals, specialist workshops, Music in the Chapel concerts by visiting professionals, and the delegates’ showcase concert on Wednesday. With Trent College offering B&B, some folk have opted to stay over even though they live locally, making a mini holiday of it. Accommodation has also enabled others to come from further afield. There’s a cooked lunch for any who would like it and plenty of parking. We hear at least one person is staying not far away in a caravan. We’ll leave you to guess who…!

DSC05077The guest tutors today were choral specialists Blossom Street. Tomorrow there is a violinist, and on Wednesday two brass players. Blossom Street, a chamber choir, formed 10 years ago when the singers were still students. They are now a London based and much praised choir, usually of 8, but sometimes 16 or even only four, directed by one-time singing member, Hilary Campbell. Another member is local Ellie Martin, who conducts one of our Daytime Singers groups. Five members gave a lively workshop that proved entertaining and informative. It improved the choir’s sound by helping singers give a more nuanced performance. Hilary spent a few minutes talking about the importance of diction, that it is part of the music, and just as the choir blends the pitch and timbre of its notes, it needs to do the same with pronunciation, matching vowel and consonant sounds not only within a section, e.g. tenors, but between sections when singing the same words at the same time. It’s all in the listening, just as it is with the notes themselves. Blossom Street also had delegates singing rounds. Not, however, a round of the same tune, rather five different tunes and from memory! Three other members arrived in the late afternoon to bring the first day to a close with a beautiful concert, picking up this year’s Summer School theme of music from the Americas. We went home uplifted and relaxed. Their interpretation and rendition of Holst’s I love my love and Whitacre’s Sleep were sublime.

owen-cox (002)And for the others… there were rehearsals for the full orchestra, string orchestra and windband with a variety of tutors. More about those groups in the coming days. Two more Music in the Chapel Concerts, open to the public, take place tomorrow and Wednesday. Tuesday, 5.15pm, Owen Cox, violin, and Hilary Suckling, piano perform a programme that includes Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Elgar’s Sonata. Owen is a great favourite at the Summer School. As a boy he played in MfE’s Stringwise, he now teaches at Cheetham’s School of Music and performs around the world. You don’t want to miss it. Nor Wednesday’s concert by two superb brass players at lunchtime 1.30pm. Click here for details. 

Link to Blossom Street’s website – hear them on Radio 3 sometimes, CDs available.

Saturday 3rd February 2018, 7.30pm | Albert Hall

Angela Kay MBE | Artistic Director

Victoria Barlow | Guest Conductor, East of England Singers

Nottingham Festival Chorus, East of England Singers and Nottingham Concert Orchestra

What’s interesting about this concert:

  • The Nottingham Festival Chorus of 220 singers is likely be the largest choir to perform a choral work of Carmina Burana’s scale in Nottingham this year. Experiencing this music (often used in films and TV) from a seat in the audience is a thrilling and uplifting experience.
  • Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, peformed by the orchestra, and Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs, sung by the East of England Singers, are sensual works born of love: Wagner’s for his wife, Cosima, daughter of composer Franz Liszt, and Whitacre’s for his then girlfriend, now wife, the poet and soprano Hila Plitmann.
  • Carmina Burana, meaning Songs of Beuern, is the title of both the collected 13th century poems Carl Orff used as his text and of his composition. The choir sings words in Latin, Middle High German, Old Provencal and Old French. (We always provide translations in our programmes.) The themes of the poems are as familiar in the 21st century as they were when first written: the fickleness of fortune and wealth, the mystery of life, the joy of the return of Spring, and the pleasures and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust.
  • Singing in a choir and listening to classical music have been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing. During rehearsals our singers are learning useful Latin phrases from the poems, such as ‘In taberna quando sumas non curamus quid sit humus’, which means ‘When we are in the pub, we do not think how we will go to dust!’

Click here for further information and tickets.

benvenue-fortepiano-trio-mendelssohn-1338472770-article-0This is the splendid Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, known as Felix Mendlessohn to his friends. He is central to some of Music for Everyone’s autumn adult choral events.

On Saturday 1st October, Angela Kay will lead a choral workshop exploring the riches of Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah. There are only a few places left, so sign up soon if you’d like to come. We’re looking forward to seeing you there for a day of singing simply for the joy of it – no concert, no pressure.

The following Saturday, 8th October, the East of England Singers, also conducted by Angela, will give a concert in St Mary Magdalene Church, Hucknall. Their programme of religious choral music spans 400 years and will include string orchestral pieces by Mozart and Pärt.

Without Mendelssohn, whose piece Beatus Vir opens the concert, the choral music of J S Bach might have been lost for many more years, even for ever. It’s fitting then that the largest work in the concert will be Bach’s glorious motet, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (Sing to the Lord a new song). After the interval the programme travels through the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries with a vareity of well known and lesser known delightful motets. Something for everyone. Click here for tickets.

If you love to sing, Music for Everyone has plenty of choirs for you to join:

Daytime Voices are singing groups based in 5 locations: Southwell, West Bridgford, Wollaton, Sherwood and (new for 2016/17) Ollerton. Although they started this week, you’d still be welcome to join. Click here for info etc.

On Tuesday lunchtimes the Nottingham Lunchtime Choir meets at the Royal Concert Hall for a burst of singing fun. The music ranges from folk and pop to blues and classical.  The rehearsal is short enough to fit into a lunch break for those who work. It doesn’t matter at all if you can’t read music. There will be an exciting opportunity in December to sing in a short concert before the Halle Orchestra’s Christmas Concert. More here.

The East of England Singers (EOES) is an auditioned chamber choir and open to new members. Singers need to have good sight reading ability and time to commit to a busy concert schedule of both EOES concerts and Music for Everyone choral events, where they often form the semi-chorus. The ability to make tea is an advantage.

 

cropped-logo_darkblue_green-copy.jpgIf you were wealthy enough to ‘own’ an instrumental ensemble, what would you choose? A string quartet or a jazz trio? How about a wind band or an early music group? My choice would be a brass quintet. As a teenage trumpeter, I loved playing in an unconducted small ensemble and dreamt of being the first (and only, ever) female member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble.

W A Mozart, 1770, by Dalla Rosa

Wind ensembles, known as Harmonie, were very popular among the rich and royal of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s time (Mozart, 1756-1791). Emperor Franz Joseph II had such a group. Prince Liechtenstein asked Mozart to both find him a group of wind and brass musicians and to compose new pieces for them to play. The groups performed at social occasions, indoor and outdoor, and sometimes played for more formal events. The music for such ensembles, known as harmoniemusik, was meant to entertain, it was often light in nature and unmemorable. The serenade was a popular musical form. Mozart elevated it into compositions that have endured. A minor key was an unusual choice and suggests K388 was written for a more formal or civic occasion.

The third programme item in the East of England Singers’ concert on Saturday 17 October, St John’s Church, Carrington, Nottingham, 7.30pm will be Mozart’s Serenade in C Minor for Wind Octet, K388, played by the New Classical Wind Ensemble. It is scored for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons.

So why Mozart the Recycler? Some years later, Mozart would transcribe the work for string quintet, keeping the same key signature, C minor.

Click here for the full concert programme and tickets.

Here is the second movement of Mozart’s Serenade in C minor, K388

If you receive the blog post by email, you might have to click through to the website to listen to the music.

cropped-logo_darkblue_green-copy.jpgSo said Igor Stravinsky.

If you hear the name Igor Stravinsky (1882-19710), what music comes to mind? Perhaps it is his ballet music, The Rite of Spring, Petrushka, or The Firebird Suite. But there are symphonies, operas, concerti, choral music and much more.

As we can hear in the opening of the Rite of Spring, his music can be melodious

and excitingly rhythmic (a little further into the Rite of Spring)

 

Some of these styles are to be found in Stravinsky’s Mass for Chorus and Wind Orchestra. This will be the second work in the East of England Singers’ IgorStravinsky680pxconcert, Saturday 17 October, St John’s Church, Carrington, Nottingham, 7.30pm.

Stravinsky was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. He drifted away but returned to faith later, though by then he no longer lived in Russia. Instruments were never used in his church, so he turned to the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church and composed a Mass setting. This was deeply personal to Stravinsky, something he felt compelled to compose from his own faith, his own soul. There is something both haunting and striking about the music, music Stravinsky determined would not be overly emotional. To him, it was the words that mattered above all else. It was first performed at La Scala, Milan, in 1948 and is a challenging and exciting sing, rhythmic, at time dissonant yet with echoes of plainsong.

Click here for the full concert programme and tickets.

More about Stravinsky.

 

cropped-logo_darkblue_green-copy.jpgThe East of England Singers concert this coming Saturday – St John’s Church, Carrington, Saturday 17 October, 7.30pm – will open with music by Henry Purcell. Purcell, 1659-1695, was a prolific composer of instrumental and choral music and opera. His style would come to be termed English Baroque, and is captured in the statue of him erected in Victoria Street, London, to mark the 300th anniversary of his death. Glen Williams’ sculpture is titled The Flowering of English Baroque.

6954282734_a4a8e25029_cPurcell was the organist at Westminster Abbey at the time of the death of Queen Mary II in 1694. Although the Queen had requested that there be no state occasion upon her death, the outpouring of national grief led to a state funeral that cost, in the value of the time, £100,000. It took place on 5 March 1695. Purcell was responsible for the music. Scholarship now shows that although some of the music used during the service was by Purcell himself, much was by Morley and others. It is known that Purcell’s third version of Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts, and his March and Canzona, were used during the service. His two other funeral sentences, which will also be sung during the concert, come from c1682, before Mary came to the throne. They were perhaps written for the funeral service of a friend. The third version of Thou knowest, Lord, has been used at many subsequent royal funerals, including that of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

The March, Canzona, and three funeral sentences selected for the concert will give a sense of the solemnity and stateliness of Queen Mary’s funeral. The music is utterly beautiful.

Here is an extract sung by The Sixteen. Click here to see the full concert programme and to buy tickets.