Handwashers’ Newsletter 19th April 2020
St PETER’S ROAD PROMENADE CONCERTS Meg Blumsom writes:
In case you don’t know what happens on St Peter’s Road when the choir isn’t practising: ……On Thursdays at 8.00pm we get our instruments out and have a concert. The St Peters Road Choir is led by Jayne McLoughlin, and the St Peters Road Ensemble consists of a bassoon, a saxophone, a double bass, two cornets a trumpet, a clarinet and a keyboard. All maintaining the correct social distance.
For Carleton’s information: none of the “choir” watch the conductor or listen to the orchestra, and the basses sound like vacuum cleaners. Advice please.
I wonder how many of you are still grappling with Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius?! After sharing with you a fairly epic work last week I now offer something more modest in scale. As we are now in the season of Eastertide I present to you one of the most familiar and much-loved anthems of the season.
Samuel Sebastian Wesley was the grandson son of the famous hymn writer, Charles Wesley, and the (illegitimate) son of the composer, Samuel Wesley. He was the leading church musicians of the Victorian era and much of his music is still sung regularly in cathedrals, churches and chapels today – at least when not in lockdown!
Wesley wrote ‘Blessed be the God and Father’ whilst organist of Hereford Cathedral. Church music was at something of a low ebb at this time (much to Wesley’s frustration), and at the first performance -during an Easter Day Evensong – only the boy choristers and a solitary bass were available. The bass apparently also served as the Dean’s butler!
Here is the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral: https://youtu.be/JSpsrRJmQKk
JOGGED MEMORIES Last week’s Carleton’s Column brought back this memory for Julia Dyer:
The Dream of Gerontius was the first concert and recording I ever did. Janet Baker was quite early in her career then and she did several concerts with Barbirolli and the Halle. Once she was performing with Fischer Dieskau and at rehearsal said how nervous she was performing with him but of course she held the stage in her own right too. Barbirolli loved her voice – as we all did.
and Margaret McIvor responded:
I did enjoy Carleton’s Column and could picture Katie conducting Gerontius at Carleton’s side. It must have been fun for the audience at the theatre performance to applaud Carleton in his “dressed-down” casual attire. I do hope Carleton will write more reminiscences; please pass on my thanks.
Margaret also offered this timely poem in lighter vein by local resident Pam Ayres: Pam Ayers poem (If any ladies wish to contact Margaret suggesting that, by association with Ms Ayres life experiences, she’s speaking for herself just email email@example.com and your message will be forwarded.)
And Andy Crane ventured down memory lane:
Carleton’s story of ‘technology failure’ reminds me of a parallel experience in my power industry days. I’d been tasked with operating a pair of slide projectors for my boss’s Coal Science Lecture at the Royal Institution. This was when the acid rain debate was at its height and, as the nation’s largest coal user, the power industry was a key player. Explaining the science certainly needed two adjacent screens to get the story across! The morning run-through went well. I had the script marked up in red and green at the points in the lecture where the left or right hand slide needed to be advanced. However, the boss wasn’t entirely happy as one projector was brighter than the other – he wanted them perfectly matched. Technical minions were therefore dispatched to hire in two identical projectors for the evening lecture. These high duty machines duly arrived and gave excellent bright and matched images. But come the evening there was a problem. I knew the boss must have started the lecture as I saw his lips moving, but I couldn’t hear a word above the noisy fans of the two ‘industrial’ projectors – and I didn’t have a Katie to give me the beat! I knew the text well enough so with lip reading and picking up on the frowns and grimaces when I’d failed to judge the beat correctly, we got through – just! I told him afterwards about the problem but don’t think he ever realised what a nightmare hour I’d been through!
TOTALLY STUNNING Thank you, Di Welch for this:
I’ve just found a great little programme on the BBC I Player. It’s called Sacred Songs – The Secrets of Our Hearts. It’s music for Easter sung by Tenebrae ‘in isolation’ at home . . . . totally stunning. It’s available to view for the next 11 months and was originally shown on 12/4 on BBC 4. You should find it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000hb4m/sacred-songs-the-secrets-of-our-hearts
. . .and Di kindly followed it up with the running order:
J S Bach: Wenn Ich Einmal Soll Scheiden (St Matthew Passion).
Alonso Lobo: Versa Est In Luctum.
Gregorio Allegri: Miserere.
Henry Purcell: Thou Knowest, Lord, The Secrets Of Our Hearts.
Hubert Parry: My Soul, There Is A Country.
J S Bach: Ach Herr, Lass Devin Lieb Engelein (St John Passion).
(Editor’s Notes: If you don’t know the remarkable story of Allegri’s Miserere it’s worth reading it here: https://medium.com/world-of-music/the-story-of-allegris-miserere-b4d21656798
Tenebrae is Carleton’s favourite choir so watch, listen and learn; you could score Brownie Points!)
IT’S SURPRISING WHO ENJOYS SINGING!
Here’s an opportunity, supplied by Bob Selby, to have a good sing-a-long in the very best company: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c32wI4bDazc