Handwashers’ Newsletter 2nd May 2020

Sadly, today was to have been our concert of celebratory music by Handel and Linley, so we thought it a good idea to publish this week’s Handwashers’ Newsletter a day early. Let’s all remember that the glass is half full and we do intend to do it one day! With that in mind, you may like to re-read some notes we’ve published before describing the Coronation of George II and then, perhaps this evening, sing along with this recording of the Coronation Anthems which is almost as good as we would have been:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAyVVqseYZo 


Once again, I ask you to share your musical reminiscences with us; we can only keep these Newsletters going if you do. Why not forward a link to a favourite recording with a few words to go with it? Ed. ( timp470@btinternet.com )


The county of Gloucestershire has produced a surprisingly large number of composers over the years. I wonder why this is if, indeed, there is a reason at all? I thought it might be fun to focus on some of these ‘home-grown’ composers in forthcoming newsletters. Perhaps one of the most familiar names is Ralph Vaughan Williams born, not very far away, in the village of Down Ampney, where his father was Vicar.

Some of you may have sung his ‘A Sea Symphony’. This was his first symphony and took over six years to write. It is unusual in that it includes a chorus throughout in addition to the orchestra. I did have the great fortune to conduct this piece several years ago – the choir loved it but found it very difficult!

The problem with performing pieces such as this – and with so much late Romantic and twentieth century repertoire – is that they use such huge orchestral forces and demand a really large choir in order to balance. This performance from the Proms a few years ago is rather splendid and features the great baritone, Roderick Williams: https://youtu.be/Lp4G5vtdSWc

(Those of you who’ve read Bright Faces will know that Ralph Vaughan Williams was a Patron of CCS from 1946 until his death in 1958. His handwritten letter of acceptance to the then Conductor, Herbert Byard, resides in the Society’s archives. Ed.)

TREASURER’S MEMORY Fiona Cordiner, our Treasurer, remembers:

Carleton’s story about being casually dressed for a concert reminded me about an occasion where I too found myself in the ‘wrong’ concert clothes….only it wasn’t behind the scenes, it was in the front row on stage at the Usher Hall during the Edinburgh International Festival!  Many years ago, I was accepted to play in the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland, along with 2 other members of our school band. No-one from our school had been accepted before, so we were all quite excited but didn’t really know what to expect. We carefully noted the instructions though and packed our school skirts/ shirts and dark tights & shoes. However, it wasn’t until we were changing backstage that we realised everyone else had mid-calf black skirts….and ours were short pale grey!  It was too late to go out and buy something else so we just had to go on as we were, but the following year the instructions very clearly stated DARK skirts/ trousers!

(Fiona, as well as having a very full-time day job, plays the Tenor Horn in the Cirencester Band where she is also Treasurer and is responsible for training. Ed)


Lorna has received this poem from a friend: Poem 1869 . Written during the cholera pandemic in 1869 and revived in the Spanish ‘flu pandemic in 1919 when, presumably, these two fashionable ladies were photographed:


The great masterpieces of the visual arts offer us guidance at this time: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pwZrUxCDLzk?wmode=opaque&controls=&rel=0