Thursday, 28 January 2010

Different Voices

I was recently contacted by the editor of Different Voices which is a relatively new quarterly magazine, published by the Church of Scotland, about church music in Scotland.

Their website describes it as a magazine for those who: 
  • sing in choirs, congregations and praise groups
  • play organs or other instruments
  • plan and lead the music of the local church in whatever capacity
  • write and choose music, songs and hymns for worship, including ministers and clergy
  • and all who have a general interest in how the Church worships, what it sings and has sung through all generations.
Published three times a year it costs £12.00 for three issues.  Yes, I too can work out what quarterly means!

Now since the article on their Website features a photo of someone playing a guitar, and this isn't really the type of music that RSCM Scottish Voices is into (he said, rather restrainedly!) I didn't have high hopes that the magazine would be any good, or rather would be of any interest to me.  But Lo and Behold, when the complimentary copy arrived and I had a look through, it's not only very professionally put together there are some interesting articles in it.  I stand corrected then, and at only £12 a year I'd say it was well worth considering subscribing to it.

Choir members reading this - the complimentary copy (which is for the choir, not for me personally) will be with me on Saturday 20th February in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, our next meeting, so as I said in my email to you all regarding it, have a look at it and decide whether it's something in which you might be interested.  If I forget to mention it (I usually have other things on my mind!) then ask me, because it's already there in my music pigeonhole in the choir room.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Glasgow, February 2010

The next event for RSCM Scottish Voices is a full Choral Evensong on the first Saturday in Lent, which is 20th February 2010, in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, 300 Great Western Road, Glasgow at 4pm.

The music list is:

Introit: Salvator Mundi - John Blow (1649-1708)
Responses: Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656)
Canticles: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in e minorDaniel Purcell (1664-1717)
Anthem: Lord, let me know mine end - Maurice Greene (1696-1755)

Afterwards we shall retire to the nearby Lansdowne Bar for an after-service fluid replacement session!

It should be a very good service, not only because the choir continues to improve and gel together, but also because it's Lent, the season leading up to Easter, and the penitential music relevant to that season of the church always tends to be rather lovely in my humble opinion.

The choir still has a few vacancies for singers, so if you are aged 18 or over, live in Scotland, have experience in church choral singing, and would like to be considered for an audition or would like more information, please contact the choir administrator at for an application form.

Holders of RSCM Bronze, Silver or Gold awards need not audition, but should contact the administrator for further details.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Haddington report

The choir continues to develop and grow in corporate ability, as yesterday's service in Haddington showed.

There were a lot of call offs, partly due to the weather and partly for other reasons, so a smaller choir than usual, consisting of nine sopranos, three altos, four tenors, and six basses, turned up at the incredibly beautiful and historic St Mary's Parish Church at 10am to be fed tea, coffee and biscuits by the the very friendly ladies of the parish.  We then walked a few hundred yards to the Trinity Centre, the church hall of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, where we rehearsed in the morning to allow our organist to rehearse on the splendid looking organ in St Mary's church.  As it happened, we didn't need to decamp, because our regular organist Richard Walmsley couldn't make it so at very short notice Matthew Beetschen, organist of Dunblane Cathedral and chair of the RSCM Scotland committee, stepped ably into the breach but he didn't arrive until lunchtime so we could have rehearsed in the church after all.  Not to worry.

The music was very slightly different to that advertised in my previous post, and consisted of:

Hymn: O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (tune: Was Lebet)
Anthem: O magnum mysterium (Tomas Luis da Victoria)
Hymn: How brightly beams the morning star (tune: Wie Schön Leuchtet, harmony by J S Bach)
Anthem: In a byre near Bethlehem (Irish trad, arranged by John L Bell and Frikki Walker)
Anthem: Bethlehem Down (Peter Warlock)
Hymn: New light has dawned (I think the tune was by Peter Barnard, but apologies if that's wrong!)
Anthem: Lo! Star led chiefs (William Crotch)
Hymn: Of the Father's love begotten (tune: Divinum Mysterium)

Of all of the above, personally my highlight was the Victoria anthem which is very atmospheric and very beautiful.  The lowlight?  Well, for me the jury's still out on the New light has dawned hymn which I didn't quite get to grips with and I suspect I wasn't the only one.  It went well enough, but I didn't particularly enjoy it.  Still, if everything was perfect it'd be a boring world I guess!

A nice surprise for me was the William Crotch anthem, because it was one I've never heard before, and it's a wee gem.  Lots of fun to sing.

RSCM Scottish Voices is still a new choir, and we've only met some half dozen times so far.  For the first wee while the focus was just on a rehearsal day with a small service tacked on at the end, almost as an afterthought, but that's the nature of starting up such a choir consisting of people who don't already know each other and who don't meet to rehearse on a weekly basis.  The first services weren't advertised in any way and so were put on pretty much just for ourselves to round off the day of rehearsing, and the first actual congregation I think we had was a single person at the service at the end of our residential weekend in Musselburgh last year. We had a small handful at St Ninian's Cathedral in Perth last September, and a similar sized group at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh in November.  Yesterday though we had over 20 in the congregation which, while clearly is a small number of people in the grand scheme of things, was the biggest number to whom we've sung so far.  Numbers aren't the target of course, but it was nice to see them.

Performance wise, our Musical Director Frikki Walker was pleased with the way it went and how we sounded.  We continue to develop and progress, and things are still looking good for the future.

So that's all very well, but what about afterwards?

About 100 yards along from the front gate of the church is a pub called the Tyneside Tavern, sitting next to an old mill on the river Tyne.  I'd already identified it from the CAMRA Good Beer Guide as a good place to go, and we weren't disappointed.  A good turn out of choir members, maybe 20 people, and the beer and craic were good as was the food a few of us had a bit later.  With very friendly staff, and the lounge bar pretty much to ourselves, I could have stayed there all night, but sadly had to travel back west to home!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Haddington 2010

The next meeting of RSCM Scottish Voices will be a service in St Mary's Parish Church in Haddington, East Lothian at 4pm on Saturday 16th January 2010.  That's a week tomorrow.

Music will include:

Bethlehem Down (Warlock); O Magnum Mysterium (Victoria); Lo star-led chiefs (Crotch); The Coventry Carol (trad arr Willcocks); There is a star (trad Spiritual); How brightly beams the morning star (Bach).

As ever we will be conducted by Frikki Walker, and accompanied by Richard Walmsley.

It'd be great to see a nice big congregation in this lovely historic church, which is in Sidegate, Haddington EH41 4BZ.

On their Website, they describe how to find the church as:

The market town of Haddington is 20 miles East of Edinburgh along the A1 dual carriageway.  Travelling East take the second exit to Haddington - St Mary's is signposted from the main road.  Look to the South, and you will see the old church tower in the distance.

The choir still has some vacancies for singers, so if you are aged 18 or over, are resident in Scotland, have experience in church choral singing, and would like to be considered for an audition or would like more information, please contact the choir administrator at for an application form.

Holders of RSCM Bronze, Silver or Gold awards need not audition, but should contact the administrator for further details.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Wrong date advertised

I've been advised that some information in the RSCM publication The Network is wrong.  I haven't seen it myself but apparently it states that RSCM Scottish Voices will next meet on 6th January, when in fact it is Saturday 16th January which is the correct date.  For the avoidance of doubt we always meet on Saturdays.

Apologies if this error has mislead anyone, but the information passed to the editor of The Network was correct.

The service, which is open to all to attend, will take place at 4pm, and the church is in the middle of Haddington.