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Conductor's Notes - Tuesday 31st January

What a productive rehearsal on Tuesday! Thank you all so much for your hard work and focus so far, particularly with the Mäntyjärvi - we've made a great start.

What we did on Tuesday 31st January

We started by working on the 1st movement of the Stanford (Sailing at Dawn), locking in the notes and ensuring the ensemble is steady throughout. While the first two verses are the same, be careful at the bottom of page 7, where the rhythm changes slightly; and the same goes for the final "Lead the line" before the end, with its longer "Lead"s.

We then looked at page 12 of the Mäntyjärvi, identifying and then singing an octatonic scale. We then layered these up on each other to create the dissonant sounds of the descending diminished chords. The same goes for bar 50 on page 16 - this time, ascending octatonic scales, building ascending diminished chords. We then learnt the rhythm at bar 51 onwards, feeling the difference between the triplet time (15/8) and duple time (5/4), and creating the violent sound Mäntyjärvi asks for.

After the break we learnt the Soprano rhythm at bar 36, and the Alto rhythm at bar 39, starting off by filling the gaps with "shh" to help us get the text in the right place. Then we looked at the (again) octatonic section at bar 42, feeling the 'swinging' rhythm. We then put together that entire section, from bar 36, all the way to bar 95, getting an overview of that section.

We finished with the opening of the Sumsion, doing some good work on blend, ensemble, and performance of the first sections. The first phrase isn't broken; the quaver rest is just a lift in the text. The top of page 4 is smooth and doesn't bloom on each note. The motion of the music constantly pushes forwards on page 6 and 7, especially led by the Basses with their dotted "stormy wind". Everything builds to page 8, second system, staying strong through to "deep".

Excellent work!

What we'll do on Tuesday 7th January

We'll start with where we got to last week in the Sumsion, page 9. After this we'll work on pages 6-13 of the Mäntyjärvi, joining the two sections and solidifying the ostinato-based section. The final thing we'll do is to work on Movement 2 of the Stanford (The Song of the Sou' Wester), so do take a look at that.

Marked Scores

Attached are the marked scores for the whole concert, including hopefully helpful hints for finding your starting notes in the Stanford. We're now at the stage of the term where I expect the markings to be in the first half, and by next week to be in the second half. Thank you for putting them in!

newChoir ‘23 Spring - Full
Download PDF • 79.94MB

Spotify Playlist

As with every term, you can find most of the music on Spotify (or YouTube). Here's the Spotify Link.

The Vivian is available HERE.

The Arbo is available HERE.

Mäntyjärvi Learning Resources

Nick Watkins, member of Chipping Norton Choral Society, North Cotswold Chamber Choir, and friend of newCHOIR, put together some learning tracks for Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae when NC3 did it last year. He's very kindly allowed me to share them with you. Below is the link to a folder of each part, highlighting your notes, beginning on page 6.

It'll be incredibly useful going forward in learning the piece, particularly as we can focus in rehearsals on putting it together, rather than 'note-bashing'!

In this updated folder, Brian has also put them into MP3 format too, so everyone should be able to access them. Check them out HERE.

Solo Auditions

There are 3 big solos in this concert - one opens the programme, and then two are in the Mäntyjärvi. So, if you're interested in these, please do let me know, and we'll do auditions on Tuesday 7th and 14th February. We're looking for:

1 Soprano (folky solo in the Mäntyjärvi)

1 Tenor/Baritone ('newsreader' solo in the Mäntyjärvi)

1 Bass/Baritone (opening of the Vivian)

Suggested Listening

A couple of days ago, I saw a new publication from OUP, for which a friend conducted the recording of the accompanying album. It's a book of choral music by black composers; I can't pick a specific piece from the album, so I suggest you check them all out HERE.

Have a great weekend and see you on the 7th.

- Ben

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