Posts Tagged ‘choral music’

The Queen of Heaven

April 20, 2013
The Sixteen - Croydon Minster

The Sixteen – Croydon Minster

Croydon is pretty dire, therefore I went via Guildford for lunch at the Guildford Institute, then on to Croydon.

On coming off the station, a huge tower block. What I assume to be the UK headquarters of the evil Nestlé Empire, whose boss thinks NGOs that advocate water for people as a human right are extremest organisations and peddles infant formula milk in the Third World

Walking through Croydon is dire. It is as though one has been transposed against ones will to the Third World. I walked down a side street where a market was packing up for the day. The smell was as though I was in the Third World.

I was on my way to Croydon Minster where The Sixteen were to play, part of their Choral Pilgrimage 2013.

I had intended to arrive at seven o’clock if not before to get a decent seat. But thanks to the appalling service at an American Diner I did not arrive until 7-15, to find the place was packed. But I was in luck, I managed to bag a half decent seat.

I picked up a couple of CDs with the music for the tour, which Harry Christophers kindly signed. As thanks I gave him The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of The Pilgrimage, and last year was published a special collectors edition. Last year saw the 25th anniversary for The Sixteen of their choral pilgrimage. This year sees the 25th anniversary of The Alchemist, and to mark the occasion, a special collectors edition has been published.

The start of the concert with Palestrina was very clever and very effective. Part of the group at the front, followed by others singing as they walked to the front from the choir stalls. Very moving and brought tears to the eyes.

Miserere by Allegri was something of a disappointment. The group splits in two. Voices from a balcony, would have been great, but buried in the choirs stalls, obstructed by the mass of the building does not work. It may have worked for those on one side of the church who maybe had line of sight, but it certainly did not work for those sitting on the other side of the church. It probably sounded perfect from where Harry Christopher was conducting.

Music by MacMillan was one big mistake. Even stood on its own, it would have been flat, lacking in soul, but back to back with Palestrina and Allegri, was going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Finishing with MacMillan was an even bigger mistake. It was to end on a low not a high. At times harsh, a noise, but just plain ugly. It made no use of the acoustics of the building.

This is like The Proms including rap.

After the concert had finished, a prayer card writ, a candle lit, for my lovely friend Annie who is not well.

Walking through Croydon at night is not a pleasant experience. I hate to think what it is like late at night.

A train to Gatwick, then a train from Gatwick. A long walk home.

On the train from Gatwick, entertained by a couple of teenage girls who decided to dance for me.

Haydn’s Creation

July 15, 2012
Haydn's Creation

Haydn’s Creation

Last week I was in Alton for the Alton Food Festival, I saw around the town posters for Haydn’s Creation in Farnham for the following week.

Hence a wander around Farnham during the afternoon, then a taxi to St Thomas-on-the-Bourne, as I had no idea where it was. A pity not in St Andrew’s in the town centre.

I arrived about half an hour before the concert was due to start, which was good timing as I was able to pick up my ticket and grab a good seat.

I was right at the front, probably too near I thought, but it turned out I was in the right location.

It cannot be often one is literally at the feet of the performers for a performance of Haydn’s Creation. I had full 180 degrees, from the soloists one side, through the singers, to percussion and bass on the other side. Right in front of me was the director.

The singers were The Holybourne Singers, the players The Haydn Ensemble, directed by Rebekah Abbott.

It is not often you see a female director (a first for me) and she doubled up as soprano.

I have a yardstick. They are called The Sixteen. They are in a league of their own, the gold standard.

The concert was excellent. I could not believe how good The Holybourne Singers were. They were only formed two years ago, this was only their third public performance. Whether this was some innate talent or Rebekah Abbot knocking them into shape I do not know.

Rebekah conducted the first half, then opened the second half singing, then leapt back onto the podium to conduct.

Rebekah a delight to listen to as a soprano.

The concert was recorded. I have been to too may concert where it is not recorded, then think what a pity.

I have asked Rebekah to upload the concert to bandcamp. I was not familiar with the file format she was using. I said convert to FLAC, upload as FLAC, bandcamp will handle any file conversion for download. [see mp3 v FLAC]

The cover of the programme ideal (with a bit of editing) as album cover. Make download free, but with pay-what-you-like, with the funds raised going to the same good causes as the concert. The concert programme available to download as pdf file.

If they wish to be on a record label (a twiiter account is more useful than a record label) then sign up to Any And All Records, then can get a bit of publicity, now signed to a record label. The very act of being on bandcamp another excuse for a bit of publicity. Make effective use of the internet.

A blog is also a must. If they had a blog could have written about their flashmobs, this concert, their rehearsals.

On bandcamp, single click, and can be shared. With the e-mail list and the people who attended, many people will be sharing with their friends, more money raised.

An excellent example of slow music, community supported music.

The singers were a local community choir, everyone gave their time free including the players. Big support from the local community. Fund raising for the local community.

There was also a very good age range. Not the usual over sixty and count on one hand those in their twenties. Behind me a very attractive 15-year-old girl with her grandmother. Beside me two attractive girls in their twenties from Finland, in front of me two boys probably five or six.

This was in part because they were all there because they knew the people playing (I was asked more than once who I knew) but I hope also there because they loved the music not because they had to be, because if the latter they will grow up hating the music.

The whole event was very informal, with Rebekah chatting to the audience from the podium.

But that is how community supported music should be. If not, music will not survive.

Checking out their facebook page I noticed flashmobs in Farnham! Excellent!

Talking to one of the Finnish girls she told me she liked Paulo Coelho (she had read The Alchemist in Swedish). To her pleasant surprise and delight I gave her a copy of The Alchemist.

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809), a prolific Austrian composer, often seen as the composer who introduced the classical symphony. He was a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

The Creation is an oratorio written by Haydn between 1796 and 1798. The Creation tells the story of the creation drawing on Genesis and Paradise Lost.

Shooting Star Chase is a children’s hospice in Farnham, the cause for which funds raised by the concert.

Abbott O’Gorman Piano Duo lunchtime recital at Guildford United Reform Church 1300 Wednesday 18 July 2012.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Sunday 15 July 2012).

The Sixteen Asia-Pacific Tour

April 21, 2012

Harry Christophers (founder and director of The Sixteen) talking ahead of The Sixteen’s Asia-Pacific tour that took place earlier this year. The tour took in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington, sadly not Japan.

The Sixteen are now embarking on their Choral Pilgrimage 2012, which takes them to cathedrals and churches in England.

The Sixteen are a small early music choral group founded by Harry Christopher with associated orchestra.