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Conductor's Notes - Tuesday 11th October

Another brilliant rehearsal, covering a lot of music and continuing our early emphasis on ensemble work. We've now seen everything (apart from O Come, All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald, and White Christmas, which I've promised not to do until November), so it's time to begin some detailed rehearsals on this all.

My emphasis for this concert season is to continue the amazing work we did last time, especially in terms of our ensemble and performance. In order to do this I need you to come as prepared as possible to rehearsals; specifically, learning the notes - we are Oxford's best amateur chamber choir, after all!

What we did on Tuesday 11th October

After a healthy warm up, we sang through A Spotless Rose and immediately started working on its fluidity and speech-like feel, along with how the Baritone soloist will fit in. Following this we looked at Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, and The Three Kings, before splitting the break so I could work with the upper and lower voices separately; we did some excellent work on tuning those sections, so let's keep reminding ourselves of that. After the break we read through Advent Moon (McDowall) and See Amid the Winter's Snow (McGlade). Both of these pieces provide different challenges - the McDowall's harmonies are sometimes unexpected, and transition fairly abruptly... something to look out for when learning the notes at home. We worked on bars 40-47 in detail, noting how the voices are paired and how the voices compliment each other. The McGlade will need lots of energy and a good portrayal of the different characters - something we did a little work on. We ended with the Vaughan Williams, looking at the first section, doing it to 'do' to ensure everything lined up and the parts flowed into each other.

What we'll do on Tuesday 18th October

A shorter 'rehearsal' this week, as the AGM will take place around 8:30pm.

So, we'll begin with Here is the Little Door, recap the start of the Vaughan Williams, and then finish with Verses 4 & 5 of See Amid the Winter's Snow.

Marked Scores

As always, here are the Marked Scores for the term. It makes all the difference to rehearsal time, flow and energy when we already know when to take a breath together, put a consonant in the right place, or when the tempo changes.

It takes me many, many hours to mark it all up once I've decided what I'd like to do; for you all it should take a matter of minutes to mark your own part.

I'd be so grateful if you could put these all into your parts as soon as possible, at the latest by our first rehearsal back after half-term. Sit down with a G&T, stick on the playlist, and shove the markings in. Thank you!

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Spotify Playlist

To help with familiarity of the music this term, I've created the Spotify Playlist with recommended recordings, which you can ACCESS HERE. It's free to sign up, so I hope it helps.

Suggested Listening

This week's suggested listening is a bit of Vaughan Williams (how could it not be when it was his birthday on the 12th?!) - his Symphony No. 4 in F Minor. For those of you who think all of Vaughan Williams's music sounds the same... think again. I shan't give the game away, but this is arguably one of his most turbulent and dissonant works. Unlike his first three symphonies, it was not given a title, with Vaughan Williams stating that it was to be understood as pure music, without any incidental or external inspiration. I absolutely love this symphony, and encourage all of you to listen through to it.

Thanks everyone, and see you on the 18th.

- Ben

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