HANDWASHERS’ NEWSLETTER 20th JUNE 2021
RESTARTING REHEARSALS – PLAN B
Providing Government restrictions are lifted on indoor activities on 19th July, we plan to restart rehearsals on Tuesday 20th July and then on 27th July, 3rd August and 31st August all with Carleton on the rostrum. The normal term rehearsals then begin on 7th September.
Plan B depends on whether our usual rehearsal venue becomes available for our use from 20th July or, if not, whether an alternative can be found.
Our Provisions for Member Safety will apply from the restart.
I wonder how many of you remember performing Mendelssohn’s oratorio, St Paul? It is a wonderfully dramatic work, somewhat overshadowed by Elijah nowadays but, it was received enthusiastically during the composer’s lifetime. Modelled on the great choral works of Bach and Handel, Mendelssohn continues and builds on that tradition with considerable success.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
The story of Paul’s life is told through a succession of recitatives, arias and choruses. The use of chorales is clearly influenced by Bach. One of Mendelssohn’s favourite chorales, the advent hymn, ‘Wachet auf’ (‘Sleepers wake’) is the basis for the fine orchestral overture which I share with you this week.
If you have a spare two and a half hours, you may enjoy finding one of several complete recordings on YouTube and basking in some glorious music. I do recall that our performance with CCS did not finish until 10.00pm!
BACH DRAWS HIS SWORD Tim tells us:
As you may remember from one of my previous ramblings, Johann Sebastian Bach’s first Organist appointment was at the New Church at Arnstadt in 1703. His duties included training a student orchestra and choir, a duty with which he struggled as many of his students were older than their young tutor aged 18.
The Wender organ Bach played in Arnstadt
Bach called one of them, a bassoonist named Johann Heinrich Geyersbach, a ‘zippel faggotist’ which can be politely translated as ‘nanny-goat bassoonist’. Late one evening, Geyersbach spotted Bach and attacked him with a stick as he walked home, calling him a ‘dirty dog’. Bach drew his sword but, fortunately, other students separated them before blood was shed. Bach was hauled before the Arnstadt authorities who ordered him to be more moderate in his demands of the students.
You will recall that Bach also annoyed his Arnstadt employers by absenting himself for four months while visiting Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck. Altogether, these differences most certainly played a part in Bach’s decision to successfully apply, soon after to become the organist at St Blaise’s Church in Mühlhausen in 1707.
(As a Fathers’ Day self-indulgence, I offer you my favourite Brandenburgh Concerto No. 5 composed long after Bach had sheathed his sword in Arnstadt: https://youtu.be/_V7oujd9djk )
JENNY HALL WRITES:
I was interested to read Carleton’s column about C Armstrong Gibbs. When I was in the Choir at school (Central Newcastle High School), we sang what I thought was a War Requiem by him, but I have not been able to trace any sign of it since.
This was about 1956-8 and the pieces seemed to be very “modern” and what my Mother called “flatty” – Not a technical term, but I am sure you know what she meant. I can remember some of the words of two of the pieces – something like this:
“The year is 1940 and the time high summer, Behind Dunkirk. Before, who knows!
Who knows but this, this Island like a David waits the challenge of Goliath Waits and works by night and day to fortify the land with mines and wire, to pile the ammunition up and make more planes – More, more of everything, in time.”
And the other piece was:
“London! The name’s a heartbeat and a bell With light gay laughter, cockney wit. St Paul’s seen from the busy Pool ……….”
That is it! All I can remember. I can hear it too, but you don’t want to! I wonder if Carleton or anyone else has heard it.
(I also failed to find anything which resembles the words in Jenny’s memory but here are a couple of other pieces by C Armstrong Gibbs: Dusk: https://youtu.be/UmyfIqWBUFc and The Fields are Full: https://youtu.be/5Cyqrblr-Y8 Ed.)
We’d always hoped to keep these Handwashers’ Newsletters going until we could restart rehearsals and I’d still like to do just that. However, we’re almost out of material so, unless you want me to dig more out of the Mine of Utterly Useless Information, please send in something interesting we can use.
CHOIR OF GONVILLE AND CAIUS COLLEGE
A couple of weeks ago we mentioned the above choir’s concert in the Parish Church on 3rd July. We now learn that they will perform a different programme at a Minchinhampton Coffee Concerts that morning at 11.00. Entry is free by booking tickets from: https://buytickets.at/musicatminch/540909 There will be a retiring collection in aid of the Organ Restoration. Because of social distancing, numbers are limited and there will be only one performance.
And Warwick Cole and friends have been busy at Minchinhampton videoing Stölzel’s Cantata for the Annunciation: https://youtu.be/bRAhYUG0bCs Please do contribute towards the cost if you can.
Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel (1690 – 1749)
AND FINALLY . . .
Dorothy Hartridge spotted this Cornish musical take on world events: https://youtu.be/x2fUdLvSa3k