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2022

1 March 2022
Song for Ukraine
21 February 2022
#22for22 Update
7 February 2022
The Armed Man

2021

16 December 2021
#22for22 is launched
4 December 2021
Christmas is Back! with a brassy bang!
6 November 2021
714 Days... Back in Concert
27 October 2021
660 Days... We're Back
4 October 2021
Annual General Meeting
1 August 2021
2021/22 Season Launched
7 June 2021
Expanding the Canon
18 May 2021
Live Singing started ... stopped
17 May 2021
Fridays and the Future
14 April 2021
Virtual Video
12 April 2021
Summer in the Alps
26 March 2021
Fridays at Four - Spring Done
9 March 2021
International Women's Day
22 February 2021
Cooking up a Feast
12 February 2021
Centenary Classics
11 January 2021
Classical Classics

2020

31 December 2020
Christmas Choral Alphabet
17 December 2020
Christmas Singing and Quiz
4 December 2020
Experts - Angel, Nun, and Priest
2 November 2020
Concerto for Ten
22 October 2020
Virtual AGM
14 September 2020
How can I keep from singing?
7 September 2020
An Angel, a Nun, and a Red Priest
29 August 2020
Choral Alphabet reaches 3000
27 July 2020
Virtual Quiz Time
1 July 2020
Our MD begins with RLSBC
8 June 2020
Howells in Lockdown
9 March 2020
Committee Changes
9 January 2020
New Appointment for our MD
6 January 2020
Choral Evensong in Oxford

2019

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2014

 

I was glad! A feast of Parry

Last night the choir were joined by members of the Huntingdonshire Philharmonic to perform a concert marking the centenary of the death of the great English composer, Sir C. Hubert H. Parry. Elgar remarked that Parry was the “finest English composer since Purcell” and HRH The Prince of Wales made a BBC television documentary on Parry’s music entitled “The Prince and the Composer”. The combined chorus of over 130 singers led the audience from Parry at his most grand - in the Coronation anthem I was glad and festal setting of Milton, Blest pair of sirens, through his organ and ‘community’ music - organ preludes, fantasias, and the Fantasia and Fugue in G, Dear Lord and Father of mankind and Jerusalem, to Parry at his most intimate and poignant - the Songs of Farewell.
 
The Sopranos and Altos have their
moment to shine
 
A little levity always assists with tuning

The first half of the concert includes all the accompanied and organ music, and Musical Director introduced the works from the podium, and we learned of the connection between Jerusalem and World War One, the campaign for Women’s voting rights, and the 2012 London Olympics, that Abide with me was Gandhi’s favourite hymn, and that Dear Lord and Father of mankind traces its heritage back to the Vedic religion, and its practice of imbibing the hallucinogenic substance Soma. The audience sang most lustily in the four hymns - Dear Lord and Father of mankind and Jerusalem by Parry, and two hymns not by Parry (Abide with me and O God, our help in ages past) which were immediately followed by organ works by Parry founded upon those melodies. The idea that music is for everyone, regardless of wealth or class, was perfectly illustrated in this concert, and we honoured Parry’s statement:

The mission of democracy is to convert the false estimate of art as an appanage of luxury.

One interesting feature of the first half was the adjustment of the Vivats in I was glad. In this coronation anthem, Parry incorporated what had been two separate features of coronations before the twentieth-century. The singing of entrance music at the arrival of the new monarch, and the shouting of acclamation from the galleries - Vivat Rex Eduardus in 1902. In the most recent coronation this had evolved into something much closer to singing, and the phrase Vivat Regina, Vivat Regina Elizabetha. Following the lead of John Rutter in his most recent edition of I was glad, the tradition of not singing this acclamation outside the context of the coronation was held, but the music continued, but with a substitute Latin text - Laudate Dominum, Laudate Dominum omnes gentes - O praise God all his peoples. This text perfectly suits the mood of the music at this point, and requires only one tiny rhythmic change to accommodate the proper accentuation of the words.

The climax of the Songs of Farewell
 
Not Vivat Regina but Laudate Dominum

The performance of Songs of Farewell (1913-15) in the second half of the concert was both the highlight and the lowlight of the concert. The choir performed magnificently in the increasingly complex unaccompanied textures of the work, but as night fell, it became clear that one section of the choir lighting had not been switched on! So as the music went from four to five to six to seven and, finally, to eight parts, the darkness descended on the back two rows of altos. They heroically sang on, and the music continued without any difficulty whatsoever - well done! This was a performance of enormous extremes - from the most hushed sound up to the deafening legions of angels evoked in At the round earth’s imagined corners. This work is the summation of Parry’s lifetime of experience as a choral composer, and his reaction not only to the closing years of his own life, but of the futility of the deaths of many of his students, who perished at the trenches whilst he was composing the work.

Listening to some Instructions from
Maestro
 
And did those feet in ancient time

A number of members of the Bach Choir are looking forward to singing the programme again with the Huntingdonshire Philharmonic Choir, who give their performance of the same programme this coming weekend. It is splendid to be able to share common ground in this way, and it gives us an opportunity to sing things more than once! Indeed, we will also be keeping Blest pair of sirens alive in a Choral Evensong for the Lord Lieutenant later this week, and a number of the Parry works will feature in our Tour to Bruges and Amsterdam in Spring 2019.

Blest Pair of Sirens
 
Last minute markings in Songs of Farewell