While the prospect of mass vaccination offers some prospect of a return to rehearsals in person perhaps in the Autumn, we are proposing to continue for the time being to continue with on-line rehearsals on Zoom.  Those who have participated over the last year will know that it has been a very positive experience.  Many of us have found it to be a welcome opportunity to see familiar faces. It’s not quite like singing together but it’s a good alternative. Those of you on our mailing list should have received an email with details of how to sign up.  If you are new to the choir or do not receive the email, please contact us.

Handel’s Israel in Egypt

Encouraged by the successful experience of rehearsing a piece like the Mozart with a large element of double chorus, Simon has proposed that we have a slightly longer Summer Term and rehearse a piece we have not tried before, Handel’s Israel in Egypt.  This is a work that is often requested by choir members and Simon feels is one we could perform in, for instance, a Come and Sing format when circumstances permit.

This is quite a long piece and we will not be able to learn all the movements in rehearsals.  If you have the time and enthusiasm to learn the other movements from the learning aids, we will play the entire piece in our final concert.

Don’t worry if you miss the odd rehearsal or join the term a few weeks late. You can always use the learning resources and there will be ample time to catch up later.

Rehearsal Schedule

Term will start on 14 April 2021 culminating with a sing through on 23 June (no rehearsal on 2 June 2021 for half-term.) Membership for the term is £20 to be paid by bank transfer.

The full rehearsal schedule is can be downloaded here:

Summer Choir Rehearsal Schedule 2020-21 final


You will need your own score.  There are several versions but we will be using the Novello Edition.  This should be readily available on-line from Presto Classical or Amazon and from music shops such as Dots in Kentish Town.  You should also be able to find secondhand copies via Abebooks or Ebay.  You may also be able to borrow from a friend if you do not want to buy your own.   Normal on-line learning sources are also available, such as Cyberbass.


The BBC Record Review Podcast discusses a number of the excellent recordings available and how styles of performing Handel have changed over the years.  They recommend the Taverner Choir recording (conductor Andrew Parrott) which is available on Spotify and Youtube and this is the recording we will be using for rehearsals and the final concert.  It is a lovely clear recording but you need to bear in mind that it is at Baroque pitch (about a semi-tone lower than modern concert pitch).  This means that you will not be able to use a piano to play along with recordings.  The advantage is that it doesn’t feel quite as high when singing.

Learning aids

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.

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 7.30pm start
  • sessions are an hour long and will be led by Simon Walton with assistance from Heather Tomala
  • sessions are typically a warm up, some rehearsal time in parts (you will be introduced to ‘break out rooms’!), a sing-through probably with a recording and finish with time for feedback and a catch up
  • a point worth emphasising is that, when you sing in Zoom sessions the only person who can hear you is yourself.

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.

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