HANDWASHERS’ NEWSLETTER 4th JULY 2021
In normal times, Choral Evensong is sung in Tewkesbury Abbey each Sunday by a mixed adult choir. Last Sunday we sang our first Evensong since March 2020! When I say ‘we’, I mean six, socially-distanced, voluntary singers, placed 24 metres from the front row of the congregation in, I might add, a large and extremely well-ventilated space!
The well-ventilated Tewkesbury Abbey
Whilst the Abbey is now live-streaming the Sunday morning Eucharist each week, it is not the intention to live-stream every Evensong. However, we decided to record this particular service, partly as an experiment and also because it was the first one in such a long time. I was hugely grateful to the sextet who did a really splendid job.
The music is as follows:
Responses – John Sanders (a former organist of Gloucester Cathedral) Canticles – Walmisley in D minor (one of the ‘classic’ settings)
Anthem: Prevent us, O Lord – Hubert Parry (a charming four-part, a capella anthem composed whilst in his teens)
The organ was played by Dr James Lancelot who was the organist of Durham Cathedral for over 30 years. He retired to Tewkesbury a few years ago. We are fortunate in having two cathedral organists as part of our congregation!
Unfortunately, it looks like this ‘rule of six’ will be with us for the remainder of our choir term, but we look forward the time when larger forces will be able to sing together once again.
THE MOZART EFFECT Andy spotted this report a couple of weeks ago:
A piece of music by Mozart can have an anti-epileptic effect on the brain and may be a possible treatment to prevent seizures, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Hospital St Anne and CEITEC Masaryk University in the Czech Republic found that listening to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos K448 reduced epileptiform discharges (EDs) – the electrical brain waves associated with epilepsy and which can cause seizures.
The team compared the effects of listening to two classical pieces on epilepsy and on brain activity.
Professor Ivan Rector
‘To our surprise, there were significant differences between the effects of listening to Mozart’s K448 and Haydn’s No 94,’ said Professor Ivan Rektor. ‘Listening to Mozart led to a 32% decrease in EDs but listening to Haydn’s No 94 caused a 45% increase. Listening to Haydn’s music led to suppressed epileptiform discharges only in women; in the men, there was an increase of epileptiform discharges’.
We believe the physical ‘acoustic’ features of the Mozart music affect brain oscillations – or brain waves – which is responsible for reducing EDs.”
Prof Rektor added that the Mozart Effect was first conceived in the early nineties but there wasn’t concrete data available.
His team, who published the study at the 7th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology, sought to test the theory and found EDs were suppressed by Mozart’s composition, while Haydn’s song increased EDs in men.
The team performed an acoustic analysis of Mozart’s piece and Prof Rektor said that it was not the emotions invoked by the song that helped reduce EDs but instead the acoustic characteristics of the composition.
Experts believe the results may pave way for the development of personalised music therapy for the prevention and management of epileptic seizures.
According to Epilepsy Action, 600,000 people in the UK live with epilepsy – four times higher than those living with Parkinson’s. It affects around one in 100 people in the UK and 87 people are diagnosed with it every day.
Prof Rektor said that his team have started a new study testing several types of music and are seeking to find music that has anti-epileptic properties in individual patients. “We will perform and test it in epileptic parties using individualised acoustic patterns,” he said.
(Here is Mozart’s Sonata for 2 Pianos in D, K448, brilliantly played by Dutch brothers Lucas & Arthur Jussen: https://youtu.be/VIItKRaP2vc )
Tim adds: Several years ago, I heard a radio report about a children’s home in South Wales where young sufferers from epilepsy had shown marked improvement when played recordings of the Mozart Violin Concertos such as number 1 in B-flat major, K207: https://youtu.be/wyz0Z1Y_pu4
This is surely another take on Carleton’s point, ‘Music – in all its forms – is one of the greatest gifts known to humankind’.
But then this appeared in The Times on Tuesday: Why nothing beats a bit of Bach to get us spending.
AND FINALLY . . .
At the rehearsal for a performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt, a double-bass player was heard to mutter to his colleague, ‘If there had been as many bullrushes as we have notes, they’d never have found baby Moses!’
And this from my singer granddaughter, Maddy:
Q. Why did the choir cross the road?
A. To get to a professional sporting event so they could sing without restriction.