Our Autumn 2020 term will be online rehearsals of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. We look forward to welcoming old friends and new.

The committee has been monitoring government COVID-19 guidance issued to choirs and has reached the conclusion that it is not sensible for us to try to restart normal rehearsals.  Our Zoom rehearsals over the summer term were popular with members.  They provided some of the social and musical benefits we normally enjoy from rehearsals, so we are going to continue online for this term.

We will be working on Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana for a 10 week term starting on 23 September 2020 (no rehearsal on 28 October 2020).  Membership for the term will be £20 to be paid by bank transfer.  You will receive a weekly email with a link to the Zoom rehearsals, which will be run by Simon Walton and Heather Tomala, with additional technical support from Max Loble.

Each rehearsal will start with some vocal warm up exercises, followed by sectional break out rooms (see below) and finishing with us all singing along to a recording.  Please make sure you are on mute during rehearsals so that others cannot hear you and so that you don’t interfere with the sound from Simon and/or Heather.

If you are already on our mailing list, you should have already received an email with further details.  If you are not on our mailing list but would like to join us, please contact us.  If you would like to try out online rehearsals please let us know you would like to join us as this makes the session easier to administer.

Of course, we will continue to monitor the guidance with the hope of finding a way to perform Carmina Burana at the end of term or subsequently.


You will need to acquire your own score – the only publisher is Schott and it is available from Amazon or from music shops such as Dots.  Unfortunately, newer and older copies have different page numbers for each movement but there are rehearsal numbers which are consistent between the two versions, so don’t worry about which one you buy.


If you want to practice by singing along with a recording, Simon recommends the performance by Seiji Ozawa, which he says is very impressive (it is all very good but the soloists are also great: Kathleen Battle, Thomas Allen and the tenor Frank Lopardo is astonishing).  There are also several recordings by him on Spotify – but with different soloists.

During rehearsals, we will be using a 1960s recording conducted by Eugen Jochum. Because it is an old recording, the quality of the recording is not brilliant but the choir and the words are easier to hear than on many other recordings.  Even more importantly, Orff was at this performance and said it was exactly as he imagined the piece should be done.

As both recordings are on Youtube, don’t forget you can vary the playback speed by selecting the settings/cog icon at the bottom right of the playing window.  This can be a big help when practising, especially for a piece like Carmina Burana with lots of words.

Rehearsal timetable

You can find full details of the rehearsal timetable, including the movements being done each week on this document:

Autumn Choir Rehearsal Schedule 2020 Carl Orff – Carmina Burana

Breakout rooms

During the rehearsal, we will be splitting into Zoom breakout rooms for sectional learning sessions. Those who have signed up and paid will automatically be assigned to the relevant room.  If you would like to try out a session, please let us know so that you can be put in the right room.

When the rooms are allocated, all you have to do accept the move to the room and it should happen automatically, if a bit slowly!  Similarly at the end of the breakout session, all you have to do is accept the move back to the main room.

If there are two of you in the same location, unless you are the same voice part, you may wish to sign in from two devices so that you are put in the right breakout room.  If you are sitting near each other, please ensure both devices are kept on mute otherwise there will be a horrible feedback noise.

Learning aids

As Carmina Burana is a popular work, many of the learning sites provide aids to help you learn your part.  We find the following to be particularly useful:

  • Cyberbass – has a wide range of major works.  You can listen to individual voice parts or all voice parts, you can select a short passage to listen to over and over again, or you can speed up and slow down recordings.
  • John F’s Rehearsal Files – John Fletcher has an extraordinary range of music on his site, with individual files for each voice part or for all parts together. You need to set up a membership – this is free for out of copyright music.  There is a paid for option if you want to access copyrighted music – there are various options, but the individual rate for one year is £10.
  • Saffron Choral Prompt – you can order CDs at a modest price from saffronchoralprompt.co.uk 01799 586269.  You tell them the name of our choir (for a discount); which piece of music and name of publisher; your voice part.  You will receive a useful (though not beautiful) recording of a voice singing your exact line with a piano accompaniment playing the other parts.  This is clearly most useful for large scale works.
  • There are also several learning aids on Youtube.