Monthly Archives: May 2015

English Choral Music

Well, though I say so myself, last night’s concert was a huge success!

Venturing into the realms of English Choral Music was something of an experiment, and although I grew up singing Howells and Wesley on a weekly basis, I realise that this repertoire is not ‘mainstream’ repertoire like Mozart or Vivaldi. I suspect that not many had encountered Howells’ music before, and it has take time to get used to the idiom; and the notes aren’t all that easy either. I have been so impressed with the choir’s staying power.

The commitment to the performance last night was amazing, and the sound of the full choir, particularly in the Howells, Balfour-Gardiner and Parry, really was thrilling. Well blended, vibrant and committed. Who could ask for more?

And so to the Tippett Spirituals. The challenges here have been very different. This is the first unaccompanied music which we have performed – no organ or orchestra to hide behind! However well rehearsed you are, if confidence is lacking things can change very quickly, which is what happened in rehearsal yesterday afternoon! Fortunately it was a momentary dip, and by concert time (and with a little added adrenelin) normal service was resumed. Our school Chamber Choir, inspired by the rousing Howells Te Deum, were on top form, and I think in turn inspired the choral society to go for it.

The whole programme also demonstrated perfectly what church music is about; in short, it raises the words to another level.

  • If ye love me, keep my commandments
  • Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee
  • Set me as a seal upon thine heart
  • Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are mine.

All of these Biblical truths are imprinted not only in our minds, but in our ears as well, because the strains of this beautiful music arrives in our ears with the words fully attached.