Underway

And so this year’s Chamber Choir has met for the first time; after weeks of preparation and two days’s worth of auditions, finally comes the time actually to get to grips with the repertoire, not to mention getting to know the group.

Camille Saint-Saens: 1835-1921

For a group finding its feet for the first time, our first rehearsal was somedeal astonishing; having chosen the first few pieces with which to begin, we ended up rehearsing five works in total, rather than just the three I’d selected (so much for breaking the group in gently!). Our first musical steps were into Handel’s Hear Thou My Weeping, in an arrangement for four-part choir by Desmond Ratcliffe, a setting of the Ave Verum Corpus by Saint-SaĆ«ns (rather than its more famous incarnation from Mozart), and a look at two sections of the piece written by Yours Truly for the December concert.

The Handel in particular came off the page rather well, and the choir readily picked up the mood of the piece. The piece is a four-part setting of the aria ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Rinaldo, usually sung as a solo, but realised here for SATB in a manner sympathetic to the original, and the group got the hang of it well. There’s already a sense amongst some of the group that it may become the choir’s calling-card piece this year…

And not content with those, we also looked at one of a series of four Forgotten Children’s Songs, which I’ve written for choir and percussion for the February Crypt concert, and a setting of Cantate Domino by Pitoni, a lively piece which will open the same concert in an uplifting and a decisive fashion.

This year’s student conductor, Emma, led the group in some lively physical and vocal warm-up exercises to get the rehearsal underway; she will be leading the choir in rehearsing one of her chosen pieces next time.

There’s a good feeling amongst the members already, for all that it’s very early days; some of the members are returning from last year, whilst roughly half of the group is new. The speed with which the choir picked up the pieces bodes well; we are up against it this year, with a major concert in December, together with the fact that the Crypt concert falls a week earlier than it did last year, so we will lose valuable rehearsal time. But it feels like it could be a very good year…

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