The Rochester Mass Project

This Easter weekend I took part in The Rochester Mass Project as part of the Southbank Centre’s Chorus 2015 festival. The event was organised by the excellent Voicelab and anyone on their mailing list had an invite to the workshops and performance a month or so before.

I had done very little research about the piece beforehand, so it was a bit of an exciting revelation to find out that not only were we performing with The James Taylor Quartet – who are quite famous within the acid funk jazz world, but that we were also premiering the piece with the band and Rochester Cathedral Choir. Awesome.

Rehearsals were for two days from 11am to 6pm, and we ended up learning five of the six pieces we had been given. The rehearsals were a little tough, and you would be in a bit of trouble if you couldn’t read music or weren’t an amazing aural learner. Lots and lots of accidentals and fast vocal rhythms, possibly easier to play than sing! 😀

We were led through the movements by the lovely Laka D, a musician whose communication skills were perfectly suited to the piece in question and to the singers in the room. It was a really great experience to be taught by her, and as my background is more classically based, it was a plus to be developing my aural skills whilst having the safety of the score.

After a day’s break we were back at 11am on Monday for two run throughs with the band and the Cathedral choir before the performance in the afternoon. We were also meeting their conductor Scott Farrell for the first time, so it was another day of figuring everything out.

But once all was together, we were able to get a real feel for the piece, and the rhythm section really helped with the timing of each vocal phrase and for the 7/8 section of the Sanctus.





The actual performance itself was a little nerve wracking, an audience were paying to see us perform after only a couple of days rehearsal… but, it was great! It was super fun and it was wonderful to perform with a full band and to feel the thud thud thud of the bass drum.

There were nine 1st Sopranos including me and we didn’t do too much wrong! It was an exhilarating performance – with encores, spontaneous clapping (not very classical!) and woops and cheers and stuff. Wonderful.

The Cathedral choir was also excellent, amazing high voices for young singers, and it was a great help to have them there as they had been rehearsing the piece for longer. As for the band themselves, just very cool, amazing sounds, and it would have been even better from the front.

Can I do it again please?

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Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Festival Hall

This March my choir Lewisham Choral Society are visiting the Royal Festival Hall with Hackney Singers and Forest Philharmonic to perform Handel’s Messiah.

This is amazing, the ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL. SO EXCITED.

The important thing first is tickets, get them here through the Southbank Centre direct.

Singing with us are soloists Helen Meyerhoff (soprano), Timothy Travers-Brown (alto), John McMunn (tenor), and Philip Tebb (bass).

From the official blurb this is:

“An Easter performance of Handel’s masterpiece, by a 300-strong choir uniting voices from North and South London.

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is often performed during the Christmas season, but this thought-provoking work was originally an Easter offering, first performed at Musick Hall in Dublin on 13th April 1742 to a grand audience of 700.”

To hear what LCS are about listen to the audio interview shown below:

Thanks again to fluffy BBC journalist Jon Jacob for his wonderful piece.

The two choirs had their first rehearsal together on Saturday in Goldsmiths’ Great Hall and I had a wonderful time, the singing sounded immense. This is going to be GREAT.


Replicating the distance between us and Dan at the Royal Festival Hall


View west from the Sopranos

Go. Buy. Tickets. Now.

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Christmas with Lewisham Choral Society

This Christmas my choir Lewisham Choral Society has a few dates for your diary. If you would like to come and see us sing there are three events to see us at:

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Christmas Concert, St. Mary’s Church, Lewisham
Saturday 10th December, 7.30pm

We will be singing songs by De Victoria, carols, choruses from Handel’s Messiah and Britten’s Saint Nicolas Cantata with a children’s choir. See our site for details and tickets.

I am really looking forward to this as the Britten is great fun and a bit odd! I am also singing a short piece called Vigilate by William Byrd with a number of other LCS singers and this is quite exciting as I haven’t sung a small group piece in years! I think we will do okay! :).

And a big thank you to my friend Jon Jacob for his wonderful interview with LCS to promote this week’s concert:

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Carol singing in aid of St Joseph’s Hospice, Trafalgar Square
Tuesday 13th December, 6pm

LCS are supporting St Joseph’s for the second year running and their volunteers will be collecting donations whilst we sing for an hour under the Norwegian Christmas tree. This was us last year in the freezing cold and wet December air! 🙂

© Clive Dechant

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Carol singing in aid of MediCinema, St Thomas’ Hospital
Saturday 17th December, 2pm

LCS Alto Jo Honey, is a volunteer for MediCinema and we will be singing at the start of a screening of Arthur Christmas to welcome patients (adults and children) and their families and friends.

MediCinema is a film industry charity that installs state-of-the-art cinemas in hospitals around the UK, bringing movie magic to patients and people in places of care.

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I won’t be at the MediCinema carols but if you see me at St. Mary’s or in Trafalgar Square come and say hello!

Merry Christmas to you as well! 🙂

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Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at the Young Vic

My choir Lewisham Choral Society is taking part in the Young Vic/The Opera Group’s joint production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. We are singing a number of pieces during the second act and seventy-odd members of the choir signed up for the fourteen performances, we are each performing in about six shows.

I haven’t sung in a musical/opera since I was in my school’s production of Oliver Twist when I was thirteen so I’m quite excited to be part of this production. LCS also sang in the first Street Scene run at the Young Vic back in 2008, so we are obviously doing something right! It is lovely to know that LCS are respected enough to be involved in a production like this. I feel quite proud! :-).

We had two run throughs with our conductor Dan before the summer break, and since then have been rehearsing with the lovely Tim Murray who is conducting and touring Street Scene for nearly all of its run. It has been great fun and rehearsals have been at Kings College on The Strand. On Thursday we rehearsed in the College’s Chapel which was absolutely gorgeous and the acoustics were great.

Yesterday we had our Sitzprobe (my favourite new German phrase) rehearsal with the orchestra at the Young Vic and this was very exciting too (I don’t get out much). We rehearsed with the cast and the BBC Concert Orchestra, but will be performing with the Southbank Sinfonia as well. We also had a tour of the venue to see where we would be performing, we are up high in the technical gallery so don’t expect to see anyone from the chorus if you come to the show!

LCS shall be singing in the dark and from memory, quite exciting! We normally have our heads buried in our scores (joke!) so it will be a good change for us. :D. I also understand that some of us will be able to see the conductor from our positions so we will definitely be kept on our toes! I am completely excited about these performances – as you might be able to tell by all the exclamation marks and emoticons – and am really looking forward to singing in such a high-profile venue.


Inside the Young Vic, a lovely odd miss mash of new and old architecture, and in complete contrast to the Old Vic up the road


Awesome poster spread outside the venue, and it has sold out I understand. Woo-hoo!!!

Our next rehearsal is the technical one, and the dress rehearsal is on Thursday with the first show that evening. Saturday will be my first performance and then I have another five shows to do until the final two performances on the 1st of October (which I am doing both of). And! I have to go to regular LCS rehearsals at the same time! What an exiting September!

So, if you haven’t already got your tickets and are a bit upset because you can’t go, do not fear! Our lovely Auntie Beeb will be recording it over two nights for a Radio 3 broadcast in the future. Very exciting! I will update this blog with these details as soon as I have them.

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Ten years of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American

In 2001 I was seventeen and had just finished my first year of 6th Form in the wilds of Northamptonshire. I first heard of Jimmy Eat World courtesy of a Kerrang! compilation CD given away with the magazine that July, the featured track was ‘A Praise Chorus’ – a song I still lovely dearly today.

As it was the school holidays I had plenty of time to listen to this CD again and again and to scour the Internet for more information about this band. I also had sufficient cash from my part-time job and decided to buy their back catalogue as well as their newly minted fourth album Bleed American on impulse. Once these arrived I was hooked.

Yesterday I realised that Bleed American was over ten years old and it got me thinking about what myself and Jimmy Eat World looked like then, and now.

    

    

Not much has changed visibly of course. I still look silly and Jimmy Eat World still look like the nice and polite rockers that they are. Everyone seems to have got married, had babies and even I have managed to secure myself a man, AND he hasn’t run away yet. I’m still in shock myself!

My record collection does not have quite as many CDs in it however, the singles all got given away when I moved in with my boyfriend last year, and I haven’t even bought their 2010 album Invented as I can listen to it on Spotify for free, how times change…

I still have many wonderful memories from various gigs and from the two trips to Arizona I took in 2002 and 2003, and the Jebediah/Jimmy Eat World split shown below was signed after their Manchester University gig in November 2001.

I went with two school friends and was cheeky enough to sneak backstage (not hard in a Student Union), and the band were nice enough to a) not be pissed off, and b) to sign the random girl’s prized possession.

And below, a Jimmy Eat World disaster, I lost my lovely blue Bleed American CD. Awful.

Due to 9/11 the band re-pressed their forth album as ‘Jimmy Eat World’ not long after I bought this disc, I would imagine original copies are now hard to come by.

So, some memories for you. I don’t listen to Jimmy Eat World too much these days but I have spent a glorious weekend playing their back catalogue very loudly. The boyfriend also likes Jimmy Eat World so when I can prise him away from Manowar/Iron Maiden/Metallica/Iced Earth/[Inset metal band name here] we both have a good old reminisce about our ‘younger’ days seeing them at the now demolished Astoria in 2002 (before we knew each other).

Here is where it started:

Rock on politely kids. \m/

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