Finding our (choral) feet

This week, the second week of rehearsals with the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs, has seen a real development since last week’s tentative feet-finding first sessions.

Chamber Choir is still ploughing through its repertoire for the Crypt concert in March – we’ve a weekend workshop this Saturday as well, at the end of which we’ll pretty much have sung through nearly all the pieces in the programme. I’m expecting us all to feel slightly more relaxed after Saturday – a few movements from the Brahms’ Sieben Lieder aside, we will now start returning to repertoire we’ve already seen, which will (I hope) start to make the pieces feel more familiar – instead of being confronted each week by new pieces.

And the Cecilian Choir is really starting to develop a terrific sound; we revisited the Hassler ‘Kyrie’ and moved then into the ‘Gloria,’ before departing Germanic Renaissance for the contemporary shores of Ola Gjeilo’s Ubi Caritas and then back to Germany for Rheinberger’s richly-sonorous Abendlied. As the Choir revisits passages we have previously seen, it starts to grow in confidence, and there’s the potential for a lovely ensemble sound to emerge as we become more confident in singing. As we work to develop the three-dimsensionality of the pieces by bringing out the dynamic contrasts and, in the Hassler, the individual subjects as they enter, the choral sound is really beginning to blossom.

Whilst at the start of the week, the upper-voice incarnation of the Cecilian Choir (we’re still working on a name…) met for the first time to explore music by Hildegard of Bingen and send some medieval monophony soaring around the concert-hall. We’ll be experimenting with performing it with and without a drone accompaniment, and establish the wonderful flexibility of the lines as we become more familiar with Hildegard’s colourful melismatic writing.

Exciting to be here as it starts to unfold…


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