I hope you enjoyed last night as much as I did.
I have been particularly looking forward to this programme. Haydn’s Nelson Mass is just terrific fun to sing, and fizzes along like an excellent bottle of champagne for the audience. When I was looking for pieces to go with the three trumpets in the Haydn, I then devised the first half. I love the drama and the sense of occasion of the Purcell and Gabrieli’s In ecclesiis is a seminal work. I liked the idea of making use of the gallery, bringing a little of St. Mark’s Venice to Hampstead.
Despite the logistical difficulties of having groups of people quite far from each other (and me!) I thought it all went very well. When I walked back in the rehearsal the balance was really excellent, and apart from the brass getting a little carried away in a small part of the Gabrieli, it was better in the concert (to be fair to them it is very hard and quite high in parts).
I thought the choir sang really well in the Purcell, with the drama and gravitas set by the brass and drum. It is great for us to sing in English at times, and the diction was terrific, partly because it was all so well in time, including the affected commas. It was really nice also to have the choir sing on its own in Thou Knowest Lord and I hope that impressed your friends who came to hear you. If I am to be honest, Hear My Prayer had a little hiccough, as I am sure you noticed. The 2nd trumpet didn’t come in at the start, but the altos started terrifically nonetheless. I was really impressed with how well you all carried on!! Remember Not Lord saw us all back on track.
I hope you enjoyed hearing the soloists show their early music credentials in the Gabrieli. Also for the instrumentalists, there are some very quick flourishes in this style, not easy to get together over a distance – how they managed in the vast bathroom acoustic of St. Mark’s I have no idea. As you know, I often like my music quite quick, and rarely see the point of a dour Alleluia. I thought our interspersions of the triple time Alleluia danced along joyously moving in the final simple time acclamation with spirit. I hope you enjoyed the colour brought about with the combination of brass, organ and soloists with you throughout. There was some absolutely amazing playing in the instrumentalists. It was a pretty substantial blow for the trumpets particularly, the Purcell and Gabrieli require serious chops (as they say in the business), and their quality of sound, intonation and dexterous playing was seriously impressive.
I think we could all let our hair down a bit in the Haydn. I know Becky, the soprano soloist, loves having a chance to show off her fabulous runs, so it was lovely to hear her effortless fireworks in the Kyrie, rather than having me doing it in the rehearsals. Carris, Adam and Olly were also wonderful to work with, singing beautifully together (unrehearsed of course) and in their solo opportunities to shine. I know from comments I get from you that you think we are very lucky with the quality of soloists we get generally, and for me, last night was no exception. They told me after the concert that they really enjoyed themselves and loved the programme and the music making we achieved. One more little hiccough near the end did nothing to spoil my enjoyment, and we got a chance to nail it the second time round – the reason one little thing like that doesn’t spoil it for me, is that I know how much you care, and how much you put into it, on the night and before. Thank you.
A huge thank you also to everyone who helped make last night, and the whole term, possible. We are now a really slick organisation with a larger number of volunteers sharing the load. From the people on the committee through the concert team, programme team, refreshments, including anyone who has volunteered to make the tea and coffee on a Wednesday night – it wouldn’t happen otherwise!
Please do join us for next term beginning on 8th May – it promises to be a really fun sing. More than that, Bernstein is an extremely clever composer, so the music is much more than simply entertaining. The after-concert summer party is also a big part of the communal aspect of the choir, giving us much more time to chat to everyone, always starting with a compliment for the excellent food that they will have brought!