At last newChoir Oxford are back together again, singing in times of Covid, thanks to the high motivation and hard work of all our committee members – we are lucky to have you! 

It’s a new term and one that could not be missed despite Covid, with the inspirational leadership of our conductor and director Janet Lincé – who has so expertly led this developing choir since its inception in 2012 – being celebrated, as she heads half way across the world to share her skills in the Southern hemisphere. Some might say she is simply trying to avoid Covid but we know better!

Our loss is certainly New Zealand’s gain but what fun to have 8 weeks to celebrate what has been an amazing partnership.

Two weeks ago we none of us knew what to expect – we gathered nervously in a dark, damp, autumnal carpark trying to figure out who was actually in our socially distanced group of six at our new and airier venue that is Holy Rood Catholic Church.

Our group structure is an interesting challenge – we keep social distance and have mixed voices in each group. Certainly means one has to learn one’s part – no hiding this term! 

As I’m a second soprano – there are not many of us – a fellow second soprano who is on the opposite side of the room and I have decided we would need semaphore to communicate with one another standing about 100 m apart. And as for being near our accompanist, the social distancing means we need binoculars to see him. In terms of hearing others, initially I could only hear the very good tenor behind me but I felt we could hear each other en masse better the second week.

The great thing is we can all see Janet, who conducts clearly, so professionally and encouragingly, taking all these difficulties in her stride. She has coped with the challenges and somehow or other, with her usual aplomb, after a tentative start, has succeeded in generating a reasonable rendition of our new music in a very short space of time.

It has been a pleasure recognising familiar faces we have not seen for 6 months. 

Covid has made me realise how much one gains from choir, not simply the inspiring music but the joy of being a cog in a well-oiled wheel and working as a team. Not only have I missed the music but prior to Covid I completely underestimated the 

value in social terms of singing together, simply making weekly eye contact with that familiar alto across the room. . . And the words – how I’ve missed the words! Particularly if one has a stressful job, as many of us do, the unexpected therapy of chanting beautiful English poetry and familiar ecclesiastical verses as part of your normal week is a great bonus. I get it now, Janet, and fully comprehend that words are an enormous part of singing!

It is a real pleasure being back and – masks or no masks – you only realise what you have missed and why when it’s been taken away. How lucky we are to have a great committee who made it possible to return to the magic that is newChoir ­– perhaps a little bit of fairy dust scattered in these painful times.

Looking forward to a happy term.

Judy Graham

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Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Written by one of our choir members...

What I have learnt this term: • Some outstanding, spiritually moving music. • How to put my music in my folder without it falling out. • Camaraderie! • There were not too many pieces after all! • Some lovely solo voices in the choir – inspiring for the less courageous. • Having an audience of a few family and friends makes it all the more fun. • Pay your fees before the concert! (sorry) • I can actually sing an A! • In Oxford when it rains, it rains – our concerts are becoming renowned for extremes of

weather. • Words and music can embrace. • The privilege of singing in such a beautiful chapel is inspirational. • The young professionals are on their way! • There’s a shared joy in amalgamating parts to form a whole. • Hard work is repaid in seeing Janet radiant and happy – a true professional, she

envisages our potential long before we know it ourselves! • Look forward to our workshop.

Do join us on 25 January 2020 for our workshop 'Breathe the melody', led by Janet Lincé. To register your place, please use the link below:

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Updated: Dec 7, 2019

There’s no shortage of joy in this programme – given its title, we’d be short-changing our fans if there were. But you needn’t look far to find more meditative beauty and, here and there, passages of sublime harmony, even verging on melancholy.

Sublime certainly applies to Purcell’s Te Deum laudamus, with its frequent spine-tingling harmonies. The women’s voices soaring and interweaving in the solo passages are a special highlight. Purcell brings the piece to a poignant close with a hopeful “Let me never, never be confounded.”

We then leap forward a couple of centuries to Stanford’s beautiful, concise Three Motets, among the finest examples of his mastery of choral writing.

There follows a complete change of style with Simon Johnson’s Gloria. Premièred in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in 2014, it features a seven-four time signature and a vigorous fugue. A fun challenge for all singers.

After the interval comes a trio of Tudor anthems – Tallis’s If ye love me, Gibbons’ This is the record of John, and Byrd’s Sing joyfully– each a masterpiece of its kind.

And the finale is another trio of works – this time, spirituals. Gwyneth Walker’s original interpretation of the great classic Steal Away is particularly moving.

See you Saturday 23 November in Exeter College chapel at 1930

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