We are looking forward to welcoming friends new and old to the Spring Term of our 2023/24 season which starts on Wednesday 10th January 2024, when we will be rehearsing two works, Beethoven’s Mass in C (op.86) and Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion – links are provided for those wishing to familiarise themselves with the music.

Rehearsals

We will start rehearsals in the Music Lecture Theatre at UCS on Wednesday 10 January and we are planning a ten week term concluding with a concert on Saturday 23 March 2024. We will have a break for half-term 14 February – a detailed rehearsal schedule will be provided before term starts.

Don’t worry if you miss the occasional rehearsal or join the term a bit late – you can always use the learning resources described on our website to catch up.

The first two weeks’ rehearsals will be taster sessions for those who would like to try out so, if you have friends and family who would like to have a go at choral singing, please ask them to come along. And, if you have friends in the choir who have not been attending recently, please encourage them to re-join too.

If you are on our mailing list, you should already have received an email with an invitation to register for the term – if you cannot find it, please check your spam folder.

If you are not on our mailing list and would like to sing with us, please contact us via this website.

Subscriptions

The subscription for this term is £90 (of which the tuition element, for those who have kindly signed up to allow us to claim Gift Aid, is £15).  If you would like to sign up for Gift Aid, which allows the choir to recover 25 per cent of your subscription at no cost to you, please let us know when rehearsals start.  Termly membership fees are not due at this point – a separate email will be sent to you with payment details after the trial two-weeks if you decide to sign up.

Scores

After the first two weeks when music will be provided, you will need your own scores.  Simon has selected the following editions:

Beethoven – Barenreiter

Mendelssohn. – Carus Verlag.  These scores are in German and Latin – we will be singing in Latin.

Other editions are available but please note there may be differences in the arrangement, bar numbers etc. The links provided here are to Presto Music, but you should also be able to source scores from Amazon or local music shops such as Dot’s in Camden Town. Used copies may also be available from, for example, AbeBooks.

There are a small number of changes needed to the Novello and Barenreiter editions. Simon and Ed will explain these in rehearsals but they are also summarised in this document:

Barenreiter Novello comparison

Rehearsal Schedule

The rehearsal schedule for the term can be found here.

Warm-up exercises

All our rehearsals start with warm-up vocal exercises.  Simon has prepared videos to help those who are less familiar with the exercises:

Simon’s regular warm up exercises

If you want to keep your voice going between rehearsals, these are the tools to use.

Recordings

Simon has suggested the following recordings – neither of them goes too slow!  Both are available on Youtube, Spotify, Amazon and other streaming platforms.

Mendelssohn – Frieder Bernius and Die Deutsche Kammerphiharmonie Bremen –

Beethoven – John Eliot Gardiner with the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantiqe

Learning aids

Many of the learning sites provide aids to help you learn your part.  We find the following to be particularly useful:

  • Cyberbass – a wide range of major works, including both the Beethoven but not the Mendelssohn.  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.  This is a very flexible tool, but you cannot download the 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.  The advantage of John Fletcher’s site is that you can download the recordings to use offline.  He has both of this term’s music on his site.
  • 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.  They have both works we are doing this term.
  • Some choir members find Choralia to be a useful source of learning aids. Choralia have aids for both pieces.
  • Youtube have a recording of Lauda Sion and the Beethoven with the scores following the music (and in the case of the Beethoven this is arranged by voice part.

In-person and online rehearsals

We have been rehearsing in the Music Lecture Room (MLT) and M7 since November 2021 and have been able to achieve good levels of ventilation. Depending on outside temperatures, it canget a bit chilly, but these are the best conditions we believe we can achieve in terms of infection management (other than singing outdoors!)

So going forward, here are a few reminders about rehearsal etiquette to reduce infection risk:

  1. We are continuing with live rehearsals, combined with Zoom rehearsals (hybrid model). We are regularly reviewing the situation for any signs of increased infection rates and are ready to take action as necessary.
  2. Please only attend live rehearsals if you are fully vaccinated. We ask that if you have any signs whatsoever which could indicate infection (with or without a positive test) you STAY AWAY from live rehearsal and attend by Zoom.

With these regulations in place, we feel confident to continue choir rehearsals, always mindful of the evolving situation and ready to react if necessary.

How does Hampstead Chorus Online work?

There will be plenty of help on hand but most members have found it quite straightforward:

  • download ‘Zoom’ to your computer in advance of the session – it’s free video conferencing software
  • each week you are sent a link via email from Hampstead Chorus, which you use to join that week’s Zoom session from 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start.
  • a point worth emphasising is that, when you sing in Zoom sessions the only person who can hear you is yourself.
  • 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.

It would be very helpful to let us know before the rehearsal if you intend to attend online.

Further information on setting up Zoom and what to expect can be found here.