|Wishing all and lovely Christmas season and lets hope and look toward a better 2021.|
|YouTube Video URL:|
|Members will remember singing this at our Faure concert in November.... here a few of our singers got involved in a worldwide version with an ensemble under the fantastic name "Musique Sans Frontières" . Have a listen! Lovely sunflowers too....|
|YouTube Video URL:|
|For those who have tried out virtual singing in this lockdown period - and even if you haven't this will make you laugh - the brilliant "Birth of the Virtual Choir". Well done Julie Stanley and St. Giles Festival Choir! and thanks to John for sending us the link.... :-)|
|YouTube Video URL:|
|We need to speak out and strongly support our cause if we are to get back to singing as we knew it and loved it.... The Guardian has published a letter from Bob Chilcott, John Rutter, Harry Christophers and other leading lights of singing:- here is a quote from the letter:|
"We need the government to show how we can restart singing together on an equal footing with opening theme parks, shopping and kicking a football around. It is imperative that we find a way for choirs in this country to resume as soon and as safely as we can.
Singing in a choir is not only about communality, social cohesion and harmony; for many it is an essential source of emotional wellbeing and positive mental health. Moreover it is a powerful expression of our culture and humanity, and it cannot be allowed to fade away."
Those responsible for managing churches, village halls and similar spaces are unlikely to act without government approval / guidance so it's up to all of us to speak out for our singing! Our own leading light Musical Director has set the ball rolling by writing to his MP John Penrose.
Let's all tell our MPs how we feel about this and get choral singing firmly on their agenda!
Please share and encourage all the singers you know
Email sent to John Penrose MP for Weston-super-Mare:
In the latest international virtual choir collaboration of Faure’s "Cantique de Jean Racine" which several Weston choral members are involved with, our very own Maria Redman was the first alto to spot a discrepancy between the rehearsal track and the score… just shows what a talented lot we are in Weston! Here is what the Musical Director (Jeff Ward), said to all the choristers:
Thanks to the excellent hearing of one of our members, an error in the ALTO MP3 backing track has been found in bars 73 and 74.
We have fixed the mistake now so please can you download the corrected MP3 before you start.
Apologies for any confusion!
All the best
|The wonderful "Like a Rainbow Shining" recording, in which some of our Weston Choral members sang along with Worle Chorale and Spanish / Portuguese choir members, was used during the opening ceremony at the online Model United Nations@ Newton International Academy conference which was live streamed over the weekend. Unfortunately the stream was not super quality so not really able to listen effectively here.... however it's great that we were a part of it! Well done all!|
In case you missed it... here is a link to Howard's interview on BBC Radio Bristol talking about "Like a Rainbow Shining"....
|You may have heard that my ensemble choir, Worle Chorale, were hosting a Spanish and Portuguese choir here in Weston during April this year. We were planning a couple of concerts and social events together. Obviously everything had to be cancelled, along with our own Weston Choral concert....much to everyone's disappointment. However, as many other choirs, we have tried to keep in touch via zoom. Every Friday two choirs from the UK, one from Spain and one from Portugal have been meeting virtually and having a chat and as far as we can, a sing! When I heard that Will Todd had composed an anthem called ‘Like a rainbow shining’, specially for this ‘lockdown’ period it seemed an ideal opportunity to have a go at this together... albeit from a distance. So each person, including some Weston Choral members, recorded their track and sent it to Ellie our sound mixer, who did a fantastic job producing this final version. The words and music are inspired and really are a message for our time.|
Howard sent the above message to Will Todd (composer of the piece) and received this response:
this is SO LOVELY
thank you guys
(Will Todd, Tyalgum Press and Will Todd Music)
|YouTube Video URL:|
|Ellie has done a fantastic job putting together this video of Haydn's "The Heavens are Telling". Well done to all the singers and big thanks to Howard and Ellie for organising everything....|
|YouTube Video URL:|
|Well sung all the intrepid WCS members who turned out for carol singing! I wonder... did Sainsburys actually notice we were there? No idea - didn't see any of their representatives.... Thanks though to the many lovely people putting coins in the Weston Hospicecare boxes which we eventually found via a pleasant security guard....|
Many thanks to those members who turned up for the Carol Singing at Sainsbury’s on Tuesday 17th December. It was a blast! Special mention to the men who gave a stirring rendition of the verse in Good King Wenceslas!
The interpretation of the "wind" deserves another thumbs up!
It will be interesting to know how much we raised for Weston Hospice Care.
When we know, we will let you know.
Bill and Kay.
|YouTube Video URL:|
|Hope you all enjoyed the experience - some of the feedback received is shown below...|
|Just to let you know that the premiere performance of Bob Chilcott's Christmas Oratorio (which Weston Choral will be singing for our Christmas 2020 concert), was recorded live by BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast on Thursday 19 December at 7.30 pm.|
|Please do have a listen to Ellie’s version of Les fleurs et les abres. I was asked, "Is this good enough for homework this week?" Accolade for the best reply please...|
|YouTube Video URL:|
|Maybe we can take a few tips and improve our accents for all the French pieces we are practicing at the moment.....?|
|YouTube Video URL:|
The anticipation, excitement and commitment certainly paid off with a concert , that I think, will be one of the Society’s finest.
Having the musicians there for the afternoon rehearsal just brought it all together. Hearing the double bass come in after the first fews bars in the opening Kyrie, made my tears run rendering me voiceless for a minute or so, as my late father was a great bass player, playing with the big dance bands plus other jazz groups. I could see him so clearly strumming and bowing away getting wrapped up in every note that was played. It was a very poignant moment for me.
Will was so easy to work with and very encouraging about the sound we were producing. Well, we certainly could not let him nor Howard down after all the work we had put in.
Performance here we come! Wasn’t it great ? You just know after the opening notes that all will be well and we took it to another level.
I think we were rather tentative for a while about the Songs of Peace buy maybe having Will there playing made us relax and get into the pieces. Even the D sharp was spot on !! All the parts were secure and you couldn’t help but be swept away with a glorious sound and feel for the music.
There was a real energy throughout the pieces of the Mass. I don’t know about you but when the opening bars begin and then it blasts into the double time, the adrenaline is swirling around and you become very focused for the start of the Kyrie.
We didn't appear to be phased either by the faster tempo in the Credo ! How good was that ? HEADS UP for the last chord.... and at the end, well how much longer were we going to hang onto that note ? For as long as Will Todd wanted to , is the simple answer!!
All soloists, musicians and performers were TERRIFIC making this a truly memorable evening.
As Will Todd said, singing is a wonderful thing to be involved with.
We are so fortunate to be able to experience moments like these throughout our singing. We enjoy coming together as a group to sing, support each other, socialise and rub out !! Some of us ,one day, may win a hamper !!
Long may it continue. VIVA LA MUSICA !!
Check this out
When you click the link, go to the bottom right corner and click on the little speaker icon to turn on the fabulous sound!
|It all began when my wife Kay was practicing a duet and needed the tenor part to be sung. So I volunteered.... one could say this was truly my Eric Morecombe moment,|
when I sang all the right notes (so I thought), but not necessarily in the right order!
From there on I was encouraged to join you all in Weston Choral. I enrolled in
September 2018 to be confronted with 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'! What had I let myself in for? However, I was warmly welcomed, given a seat with the tenors and then introduced to "Papa’s got a head like a ping pong ball" - one of Howard’s warm-ups. Could it get any better, I asked myself?! Simple answer: yes.
It took many hours with Kay, going over a few bars of music at a time trying to get my head around all the notes! With sheer perseverance I cracked it! Within the 'Twelve Days' there was a lovely spiritual melody and I found myself totally absorbed by the tune. I made it my go-to piece for a warm-up on my own.
After 68 years I had almost mastered English... but what now? Gaudete... LATIN! Good old Youtube came to my rescue and I spent many hours (and still do), finding the songs we were learning. Anything from Steeleye Span to the Kings Singers gave me a step up and hope!
The final rehearsal for the Christmas concert in St. John’s church was the moment of enlightenment for me. Our seating was organized in our SATB parts. We stood, then began to sing. I was surrounded by the most wonderful sound of voices coming together. It took my breath away. The concert was a step up again and I was really enjoying being a part of this company of singers supporting each other to perform at our very best. Maybe the glass of wine at half time helped!
My first term concluded on a high. Why had I not done this before? Music transports you to another level. Working with others gives you great satisfaction and when the end results sound like my first concert I can only imagine at the moment, what Mass in Blue will be like. BRING IT ON!!!
What exciting things we do as Weston Choral members....
After a 7.5 hour flight a gruelling 3 hour wait to process through US immigration and a further 2 hours to battle along the 6 lane highway we finally made it to New York City! All that was left was to collapse into the absolutely massive bed and get some much needed shut-eye... Thursday dawned and we were off exploring! Spent much of my time that first day in the city trying hard not to look as gobsmacked as I truly felt. NYC can really feel like an assault on the senses - especially anywhere in the vicinity of Times Square where whole skyscrapers flash with the biggest and most intense media show ever and every other person on the street is intent on selling you a tour of the city.... Captivating in one sense but very quickly becoming overwhelming.
Friday dawned and we had an early rehearsal call for 8.30am. After preliminaries and issue of lanyards / security passes we met the Musical Director for our section of the concert Dr James Meaders. Due to my lack of inches I ended up in the front row... bang in front of Dr Meaders! No need to worry though - an excellent and tough but brilliant and charismatic MD, he really showed us how to bring out the best in the music. The choir itself was fabulous - around 250 voices producing a super sound. When towards the end of the intensive morning's rehearsal, Will Todd our composer entered the room, the younger members of the American choirs present might have been welcoming a rock star!
On Saturday we settled in well to our afternoon rehearsal call and did an amazing warm-up routine directed by Will Todd which energized everyone for the session. These rehearsals will live in my memory - so special and the music full of emotion.
The day of the concert was the first time anyone in our choir had seen the inside of David Geffen Hall - a cavernous space in warm wood tones. Filing onto the stage risers and rehearsing was thrilling - now I could understand why the 250 singers were appropriate... I had to keep mentally pinching myself to think that here we were, onstage in a famous hall in New York City singing with an amazing composer and musicians...
Later that day, waiting our turn in the Green rooms backstage the familiar excitement and nervous anticipation seemed to stretch the brief wait to climb to the stage... but finally there we were - front and centre facing a huge audience and singing Will Todd's fabulous music. We remembered what we could of Dr. Meaders’ advice "the expression on your face will come out in the music" and followed his direction to our best ability... We sang with all the joy and hope that we all felt.
The emotion in the hall was incredible and despite a programme instruction not to applaud until the end of the set of pieces, the audience responded to each movement. At the end we received rapturous applause and a standing ovation. The whole experience lived up to and went beyond my expectation and I wouldn't hesitate to do something similar again given the opportunity. The DCINY organisers were really brilliant and they organised a reception banquet after the concert to round things off and give everyone time to come down from the musical high... it took a while!
Below is an interview where Howard, our MD talks about Will Todd's influence, music and our upcoming Mass in Blue Concert on June 8th...
"I first discovered Will Todd’s music in 2008 when I conducted MIB at Worle School. We performed in Clifton Cathedral and had Will and his trio come to accompany us as we do this time. So for me this is a chance to re-visit this fantastic piece that audiences love. The difference with this concert is that Weston Choral are also going to be performing the more recently composed Songs of Peace by Will. I’ve not conducted these before, so it’s always good for me to have a new challenge too!"
"I really appreciate Will’s gift for melody...there are always beautiful melodic shapes..some often unexpected but always work sensitively in context. He has a distinct harmonic language which I’d equate to ’Faure/Rutter plus’..and then there are the jazz harmonies of course."
"From my experience of conducting it before the MIB has a wide appeal to audiences. There was a tremendous reception from the audience when we did it before..and I’m pretty sure very few people had heard of it then. There are catchy rhythms, virtuosic solo lines, exciting choral parts, tender moments and spectacular vocal fireworks at times! I think Weston Choral are ready for a challenge that takes us a little bit out of our comfort-zone..though of course we have done a shorter jazz composition of his, and other non-jazz choral pieces of his fairly recently."
"The concert itself is primarily to showcase Will Todd’s music. I’m a great believer in performing music by living composers. He’s now a highly regarded world-renowned composer so it’s such a privilege to have him here in Weston. There will be some contrasting music in the concert too: solos from Martha McLorinan ( mezzo-soprano), Tessa Ractliffe ( saxophone) and of course the talented Worle School Youth Choir."
"I think Will Todd’s musical style is accessible to those interested in classical, jazz and popular. He can write exclusively in those styles but also combines them cleverly. Melodies are memorable and he creates atmospheric beauty in many of his pieces. Choirs enjoy singing his music and audiences enjoy listening to it. It’s never dumbed down either..often clever challenges that keep musicians alert and yet transcends traditional boundaries which opens it up to a wide audience."