Notes from Rehearsal with Carolyn – 20/11/18

Published on November 21, 2018,

We had another full-on rehearsal yesterday and worked hard on six songs – more info on those below. 

Before we started singing Paul thanked Cath for conducting 16 of us who sang at Hilliers’ Christmas event last week – it was a successful evening and several singers found that the pre-performance glass of prosecco helped hit some high notes!  Paul also pointed out the error in my email last week when I said tickets for our concert are £8 for adults – of course as printed on the poster and tickets the correct price is £7 (and don’t worry, I haven’t been pocketing the extra pound).  Tickets will continue to be on sale on Tuesday evenings:  £7 for adults, £5 for under 12s and we take cheques as well as cash.

Carolyn has reminded us all that there are now only two rehearsals before the concert – generally things are going well but some of the trickier songs/parts could benefit from a bit more familiarity – so please make use of the sound files between now and next Tuesday as there won’t be time in the remaining rehearsals to teach separate parts to each section of the choir.

At the end of this email I’ve included a copy of the running order for the concert – please have a look at this to see where readings etc fit in to the songs.  You can also use this nearer the time to get the pages in the right order in your performance folder.  On that subject – if anyone in the choir still needs a performance folder (one with an unclip-able ring binder inside so that hole-punched sheets or wallets can be inserted) please let me or Wenda know as soon as possible so you can pick one up from a Tuesday rehearsal.

These are the songs we practised yesterday evening:

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree:  This was one where further listening to the sound files is likely to help.  We practised breathing in odd places – in verse 2 we need to take a breath after the word ‘know’ and in verse 3 after ‘all’, with the following half line and full line then sung continuously without taking a further breath.  Verses 1, 4 and 5 can be sung with breaths at the end of each line.  Carolyn talked about the importance of listening to each other and watching her, to get the flexible timing right.

The Cherry Tree Carol:  Sounding good – the altos were reminded that they could sing loudly as this isn’t a song where they need to complement the tune (as the tune is effectively sung in all three parts).  The song slows at the end so we need to watch Carolyn to keep in time.

Ceremonies for Christmas:  This isn’t a song with flexible timing – it needs to be sung on the beat.  Here is a reminder of Denis’s clear outline of when to breathe in this song (points for taking breath are marked  and places where we sing through without taking breath are shown as   ͜   )

Come bring with a noise, My merry, merry boys,

This fine Christmas log to the fire,
All the while my good Dame bids you come near the flame ͜

As we drink to our heart’s full desire,

As we drink to our heart’s full desire.

The pattern is the same throughout the song and we finish with a repeat of verse 1.

Sing Out:  It has transpired that some of the sound file parts for this song were labelled the wrong way round (I’m using the word ‘wrong’ loosely as typically in folk music there are different interpretations of who should sing which part).  Carolyn is going to review this and we aim to get the sound files updated in the next few days.  This is a song where Carolyn will clearly indicate to different sections when she wants them to come in – it needs to be precise so it’s important to keep at least one eye on Carolyn.  The song will end with a crescendo in the last line, the timing of which Carolyn will indicate.  Tip from Carolyn:  as we’re correctly singing this one quite loudly there could be a tendency to ‘over-sing’ notes – pitching still needs to be controlled so we need to use diaphragmatic breathing (like when we do our warm ups).

Down In Yon Forest:  Again a recap from Denis’s email a couple of weeks ago showing who sings which verse:

Verse 1  Tops on Bells of Paradise / other parts on main melody

Verse 2  Men and altos on main tune / airs on counter melody / no tops

Verse 3  Men only on tune only

Verse 4  Men on tune / airs on counter melody

Verse 5  Men and altos on tune / Airs on counter melody

We will now all finish verse 5 together (so the tops won’t be repeating ‘bells of paradise …’ at the end).

Rejoice Mankind and Sing:  All good!

Next week’s rehearsal … Please revise and be ready to sing the following:

Awake Behold

The Darkling Thrush

Cradle Song (Away in a Manger)

Goodbye Dolly Grey

Home Lads Home (chorus)

Mary Had a Baby

Christmas Again

We will also practice reading through some poems – for info on where these fit in the programme and readers, see the full running order below.

If you have any questions please reply to this email or talk to Carolyn or one of the committee at next Tuesday’s rehearsal.

See you next week.

All the best, Simon


First half

Awake, Behold

The Cherry Tree Carol

Poem:  The Reminder by Thomas Hardy (reader: Susie)

The Darkling Thrush

Cradle Song (Away in a Manger)

Poem:  The General by Siegfried Sassoon (reader: Paul M)

Goodbye Dolly Grey

Poem:  German Prisoners by Joseph Lee (reader: Rosie)

Poem:  Peace by Walter de la Mare (reader: Paul N)

Home Lads, Home

Performance by Moira and Carolyn


Second half

Performance by Take Note

Sing Out

Poem:  First Song by Iris Gould (reader: Iris)

Down in Yon Forest

Mary Had a Baby

Poem:  A Christmas Carol by GK Chesterton (reader: Sandi)

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

Rejoice Mankind and Sing

Poem:  Christmas Thank Yous by Mick Gowar (reader: Elaine)

Christmas Again

Encore:  Ceremonies for Christmas

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