Handwashers’ Newsletter 21st June 2020


Amidst all the doom and gloom of the present situation it was good to receive some pleasant news this week, which I will share with you now. Last year, Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum recorded a CD of choral music by Edward Bairstow (with me playing the organ) which has just been released. I am delighted to say that this recording has been awarded the accolade of ‘Editor’s Choice’ in this month’s Gramophone magazine. It is quite ironic that this should occur at a time when our churches fall silent and when many professional musicians are furloughed, but it is a timely reminder of what we normally do, and of what we hope to be doing again in the not too distant future.

Sir Edward Bairstow (1874 – 1946) was the Organist of York Minster for many years and composed some wonderful pieces for the Anglican liturgy. Although some of his anthems have become classics of the cathedral repertoire there are also numerous pieces which are rarely performed. Two of the items on this disc receive their first recording.

The track I am sharing with you is, ‘Lord, thou hast been our refuge’, a large-scale anthem written in 1917 for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy at St Paul’s Cathedral. The piece includes lots of dramatic contrasts and effective word painting, underpinned by a colourful organ part.

There is a rather lovely Tewkesbury connection in that Bairstow’s daughter lived in the town for some years, and this is the house where I lived until three years ago! So, here is Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, directed by Simon Bell with yours truly at the organ. I hope you enjoy it: 


(The Scholar Cantorum ‘Our Father in the Heavens’ CD can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/CDs-Vinyl-Tewkesbury-Abbey-Schola-Cantorum/s?rh=n%3A229816%2Cp_32%3ATewkesbury+Abbey+Schola+Cantorum Ed.)

IN SUPPORT OF CHOIRS Wednesday’s Guardian carried a letter from 18 leading professional musicians in support of choral singing. Read it here: Guardian Letter

SYMPHONIC QUIZ This week Liz Fleming tests our wits with a quiz:

From the clues work out the name of a symphony. The clues work on a phonetic basis and some license has been taken in some cases.

(Even I could do the first two so do have a go. Suggest you think of puns and prepare to groan. Ed.)

Knighted man, award for winning. (Haydn)                     sir prize          Surprise

Beyond spoken (Beethoven)                                             past oral         Pastoral

Observe (Vaughan Williams)

Payment for travel, hole in the earth to get water (Haydn)

Israelite type of Greek bread (Mozart)

Make less loose (Mahler)

A thousandth, Mr Wogan (Haydn)

Wildebeest in a spin (Dvorak)

Mr Gore, long for (R Strauss)

Concerning an uprising (Mahler)

Old newsreel company, hard wood (Tchaikovsky)

Fellow Mr Astaire (Tchaikovsky)

Submit entries to timp470@btinternet.com First all-correct entry wins.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Chairman Andy follows the subsequent career of one of our student soloists:

Although we only see and hear our concert soloists very briefly, ears still prick up when their names are mentioned in the media subsequently. A good number of you will remember our May 2012 concert when we sang Hummel’s Mass in B flat and Haydn’s Stabat Mater. One of our soloists that day was the German baritone Benjamin Appl.

He was then a student at The Guildhall, though he’d had considerable experience as a recitalist before coming to London and had been mentored by none other than Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Today he is hailed as ‘the most promising of today’s up-and-coming song recitalists’ (Financial Times). He was a member of the BBC New Generation Artist scheme from 2014-16 and, among a string of other awards, was named Gramophone Award Young Artist of the Year in 2016.. He signed an exclusive recording contract with SONY Classical in May that year. In the first clip he describes how he came to solo singing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqsHMDk1i1s and in the second sings Bach with Concerto Koln  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JED1Oq–ny0.  Radio 3 is currently broadcasting Benjamin’s own programme ‘A Singer’s World’ late on Sunday evenings where he talks about the challenges and advantages of being a Lieder singer of the 21st century – bedtime listening, perhaps, for the nighthawks among you: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00093z6/broadcasts/upcoming

THE GILKS’ MEMORIES Here’s another of Vic and Sue’s choral experiences:

We sang Mozart Requiem 8 times in a week at Sadler’s Wells to accompany Ballet du Nord. We were dressed in black polo neck sweaters and in the pit with the orchestra. We had to sing some movements slower as the dancers couldn’t dance fast enough. All we could hear above was the thumping of the dancers on the wooden floor. At one point we were asked to sing quieter. It wasn’t enough and our conductor Hilary Davon Wetton bent down more and more till he was almost on the floor. Perhaps Carleton should try it!

MUSICAL COUSIN Fiona’s piece about brass bands prompted Valerie Lambert to tell us about her young cousin, Amelia Clarkson, who has been commissioned to compose a piece for the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Amelia recently completed her Masters Degree with distinction in Composition at Trinity Laben Conservatoire.

THE ORIEL SINGERS’ conductor, Ben Sawyer, has brought their separate voices together in this lockdown recording. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? by Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, was specially commissioned for the Oriel’s and they are proud to present this premiere recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmvOkatGs2I&feature=youtu.be

Read all the Latest News from the Oriel Singers here: https://mailchi.mp/9b2bca595855/shall-i-compare-thee-to-a-summers-day-a-premiere-by-the-oriels?e=74bf5e492a


Firstly, the correct answer to last week’s boy soprano-to-tenor quiz is Luciano Pavarotti.

The closest answer was from Chris Burton who responded, ‘It’s ME…..me…meee!’ So, Chris got the body shape right but not the hairstyle. As to the voice . . . . ?

Secondly, here’s a way of using your locked down time to improve your kitchen skills:


( You may then find this link to Cirencester Hospital Minor Injuries Unit useful: https://www.nhs.uk/Services/Hospitals/Services/Service/DefaultView.aspx?id=363037 Ed.)