Today would have been our grand performance of Bach’s monumental B minor mass. Although it is deeply regrettable that we are not able to perform it for understandable reasons, please know that both myself and Tom were totally impressed and amazed at how the choir rose to the challenge to learn this piece. By the time of our last rehearsal three weeks ago we had learnt all the notes and well over half of the work was performance ready. As a piece widely regarded as one of the hardest in the choral repertoire, it is a tremendous achievement by Fulham and Hammersmith Choral!
One of the things I’m doing in this period is learning one of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier Preludes and Fugues each day. I was thinking that I could learn the B minor Prelude and Fugue in time for Saturday, and film it. I thought it might be nice to send out to the choir on Saturday — so at least they get some Bach in B minor, though it will last around 5 minutes and not a few hours….
All the very best
WELCOME to the first of our virtual FHCS choir get-togethers.
This evening we should be meeting at Lady Margaret School for the first rehearsal of the summer term. We were looking forward to "An American Journey". A selection of American ballads and lighter hearted arrangements of 20th century classics taken from the Oxford scores 'In the Mood', 'Songstream' and 'Songstream 2'. Another departure for FHCS and something I am sure you would have all enjoyed. Hopefully we can put on this concert some time in the future.
I am sure many of you will know of Temple Music. I am a great fan of theirs and have had the great good fortune to sing in Temple Church twice, being led by John Rutter. I have also enjoyed several concerts there. So my contribution to the first week of our get-together is this wonderful performance by members of the Temple Choir. Please forgive me if you have seen this already, as I am sure many of you will have. I loved it, so I hope you do too and "see" you next week.
Take care and keep safe,
We are in discussions about the programme for the Autumn Term, as we have had to change our original plans. Lots of ideas mooted, but whatever is decided upon, it will be uplifting and celebratory. As you know we will not be in a position to make any decisions for quite a while, so please bear with us.
The Committee, Robert and Tom thought it would be a good idea to just touch base with you every week of our summer term; with some musical news and ideas. We would very much like to hear from you if you have ideas or suggestions of different musical events or activities that we can pass on to the rest of the choir. Also any news you would like to share. Once again if you know of any choir members who struggle with technology and may not be able to access these messages, please pass on what is happening if you are able to do so.
There are many plans for when we are able to all join together again and make music.
All the best for Easter and see you all soon.
Hope you’re all keeping well and healthy!
Today I was meant to be conducting a concert with cellist Laura van der Heijden.
Of course, that couldn’t go ahead but instead Laura and I have recorded - from London and Spain - a beautiful piece by Frank Bridge, whose cello concerto we were due to perform today. It’s called Spring Song, and you will see that Laura was more visually inspired by the season than I was…. Hope you enjoy!
More things coming your way in time for the ‘start of term’ next week.
All the very best
It is with regret and sadness that I write to tell you that James Turner has died. He and his wife Heather contracted Covid-19, and his wife luckily pulled through.
James was 88 and had been a stalwart of the basses for over 13 years. He really enjoyed the social events and was a regular member of the choir pub group, and thoroughly enjoyed a pint after rehearsals with us at the White Horse. He was full of interesting stories and we will miss him.
I have written to his wife on behalf of us all.
I hope you are all keeping well.
Please see below our weekly message, this one from Robert.
And a bit of fun with Gustavo Dudamel conducting Beethoven 5th arranged with some clever animations.
Press the f key for full screen
Listen to this recording of the Charpentier Messe de Minuit
Hope you are all well and keeping in good spirits! I’m really missing not being able to see everyone each week, but I hope you are finding ways to keep busy. On Monday I finished my Bach 48 project (playing one of the Well Tempered Clavier pieces each day) — I need to find another project, and it’s strange to think that 48 days have already passed since quarantine started. Here are some things which might be of interest…
What I’ve been listening to
Byrd & Tallis: Masses
(Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly).
This repertoire is really stunning, and I thought I’d share it as it’s not the kind of music we often get to sing in big choruses. This is my all-time favourite recording. You can check it out on Spotify
Something to stream
Tomorrow (7th May), the London Symphony Orchestra are broadcasting a wonderful programme of Colin Matthews, Gershwin and Shostakovich. The Gershwin is the Piano Concerto, played by the incredible Yuja Wang.
More info here: https://lso.co.uk/whats-on/alwaysplaying.html
(By the way, the LSO stream past concerts each Thursday and Sunday, so do check this out)
Enjoy the sun! All best wishes,
What I’ve been cooking
With the kind help of Belinda, I have been attempting cheese biscuits. She has very kindly allowed me to share her recipe with you all. I promise you the finished product will be delicious!! Here is Belinda's recipe, with a photo attached of my attempt.
- Equal quantities of cheese, butter & flour.
100g of each gives a good amount, 150g of each does masses!
- Strong cheddar cheese or mix of parmesan & strong cheddar
- Flour, plain
- Small teaspoon of Coleman’s mustard power.
- Cayenne pepper too if you like
1. Use the grater attachment on food processor to grate the cheese and enjoy the wonderful speed and ease!
2. Change to the knife attachment then add the flour, some mustard powder, plus butter (cut into chunks)
3. (I sometimes add a bit of cayenne at this point as I usually forget later on, but don’t add too much!)
4. Mix with food processor. First it’ll go a bit like breadcrumbs (as if you’ve rubbed all the ingredients together), but keep going and it’ll start to blob together into a big lump.
5. Roll the lump into long sausages, wrap them in greaseproof paper or cling film and chill in fridge for half an hour.
(You can keep the sausages for days in the fridge before cooking them)
6. Slice the sausages and put on greased baking sheet or baking paper.
7. Cook in oven (about 170-180ish probably) for about 12-15 mins.
*WATCH THEM – DO NOT OVERCOOK!!!*
8. Put on a rack to cool. Sprinkle on a small bit of Cayenne before serving (but not too much as it can be quite hot…)
9. Eat and enjoy!
A message from Rob:
And some singing warm-up exercises:
And some musical treats:
Hope you’re all well and enjoying the weather. Here are some things that might be of interest!
Something to listen to
This week I’ve been listening to lots of Brahms chamber music, and in particular the String Quartet in C Minor. It is a hugely exciting piece, with loads of energy and emotion. The second movement is particularly beautiful. Here is a recording I just discovered, by the Vertavo Quartet, which I think is great:
Opera to watch
Here is a wonderful performance of Verdi's La Traviata from the Royal Opera House — the cast is stellar! It’s part of their lockdown programme, and is temporarily available until June.
Some art to see
Sue has asked me to share this, so it is a ‘plug' that has been requested…. My dad runs a start-up which is a listings website for global contemporary art. It’s called GalleriesNow and can be found here: www.galleriesnow.net . You can see what’s on in the best contemporary galleries around the world, and, in normal times, it provides a great tool for seeing art, particularly when you’re travelling. In these times, they are offering 360 degree photographs of installations/shows, as well as Virtual Reality experiences of art via their app, ArtPassport. You can see what’s on in Hong Kong from your sofa! If contemporary art is your thing, it’s a nice way to explore the scene….
Something to bake
I’m trying to develop my baking skills (any improvement at the moment is a huge leap…), but this week I baked a lemon syrup (not drizzle) cake from Nigella Lawson How to be a domestic goddess. It’s super simple but super delicious. Here is the recipe:
125g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of a lemon
175g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk
for the syrup
juice from 1.5 lemons
(I did 2)
100g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees c or gas mark 4. Line and butter a loaf tine. Cream together the sugar and butter then add the eggs and lemon zest. Beat well. Add flour and salt folding in gently. Then add in the milk. Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes until it's brown on top and a knife comes out clean.
To make the syrup mix the lemon juice and icing sugar and warm to melt the sugar. When the cake is cooked and has cooled a little remove from the cake tin and pierce all over with a fork. Spoon over the syrup. Delicious!
Keep well and healthy!
Another week has gone by and it is time again for our email.
Please see below a link to Vivaldi's Gloria, accompanied as usual by a video from Robert.
I hope you are all making the most of this beautiful weather!
Well this week, in our other life, should be half term. We had planned to be meeting this evening at St Etheldreda's to rehearse. I am sure some of you should be on holiday somewhere. However, I hope that you are all enjoying this glorious weather closer to home, and you are keeping fit and well and relishing a little more freedom.
I have been listening to lots of different music during these last weeks and I very much wanted to introduce you to Eriks Esenvalds. He is a Latvian award winning composer. At only 43 he is one of the most sought after young composers working today all around the world. He has a very interesting website if you would like to find out more about him erikesenvalds.com. In 2011 he was awarded a 2 year position as Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. I came across this video 'Only in Sleep' sung by the choir of Trinity College Cambridge, by accident one day whilst looking for something else. I was transfixed, as I am sure you will be.
The words are from a poem by Sara Teasdale; (US poet 1884-1933); and tell the story of her nostalgic vision of childhood re-experienced through dreams.
I hope you have been enjoying our weekly emails. Robert and Tom will be in touch with you again next week.
Take care and keep safe,
I hope you are keeping well! As lockdown starts to be gradually eased, I’m finding that it’s another thing to ‘get my head around’ - there is just so much to think about at the moment. I hope that some of the below might offer some time away from everything that’s going on in the world right now!
Something to listen to
Ok, this is a shameful self-promotion, for which I apologise. But, it did come at the request of our Chairwoman! Last week a disc I recorded at Merton College Oxford was released — a CD of American contemporary choral music. I’m playing on a few of the tracks, but I think the stuff without organ is probably the most effective, especially in the glorious acoustic of Merton Chapel. The first track is with brass accompaniment (Senex Puerum by Nico Muhly), and the last two tracks, which are a cappella (Deep River and The Road Home), are pretty wonderful I think.
Something to cook
The other day I made a Japanese dinner and tried out this incredibly simple recipe for sesame green beans. They’re perfect for a side dish and really very easy to make.Totally delicious (and, as a vegetarian, are pretty heavenly).
200g green beans
50g toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt to season
1) Lightly cook the beans, until they are al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water and dry. They should be relatively crunchy.
2) For the sesame dressing: In a mortar, grind the seeds until almost a paste, then add the sugar, miring and soy sauce. Mix well. Add salt if needed.
3) Mix the dressing in with the beans and serve.
4) Enjoy! (you will probably regret not making more at this stage - I did)
Something to watch
Back when we were all allowed in the same room, I remember mentioning The Cellist, a new ballet from the Royal Ballet which was being relayed into cinemas. Some choir members had seen it and were recommending it greatly. It is being streamed by the Royal Opera House at the moment, and you have until 11th June to catch it online.
I realise this is pretty one-way, so if you have anything to share with me then I’d be delighted to hear from you, as ever!
Click on the picture for the ROH website
Please see Robert's video attached as usual and the link to Parry's Welcome Yule:
Another week, how time flies!! I thought you might like to see what Temple Music have sent me this week. I think it's rather wonderful.
to share this entertaining video from one of our regular choral partners, Collegium Musicum of London. . The most popular chorus in the choral repertoire, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, is given a light-hearted revision to depict the challenging period we are all living through. As the situation dictates, each performer has recorded their part alone, at home, before the wonders of technology have enabled this brilliant and humorous choral performance to be put together for your enjoyment.
As the Covid-19 Lockdown continues into its 11th week, Temple Music at Home is delighted to be able
We very much hope that at the end of this year we will be able to welcome Collegium Musicum of London, under the direction of, Temple Church’s former Assistant Director of Music, Greg Morris to join us for our annual Messiah – the tradition version. We hope that you will be there to enjoy it with us, in the glorious surroundings of the Temple Church. Until then we wish you all well and look forward to seeing you as soon as we can.
To find out more about Collegium Musicum of London visit their website.
I hope you all continue to stay well, fit and safe.
It is Wednesday once again and it feels like the time is starting to go by more quickly, or perhaps I am more accustomed to this strange world we are living in!
I hope you are all keeping well.
Please find Robert's weekly video and here is the link to Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, the subject of today's message:
Hope you’re well!
This week I’d like to share with you some music by the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). For those who don’t know his music, it’s pretty incredible I think! He wrote mainly for the piano, organ and orchestra, though there are some gems of choral works too. His influences are broad and diverse, and famously his music includes a lot of birdsong — he was a very keen ornithologist and spent a lot of time in forests transcribing what he heard from the trees onto manuscript paper.
He had a very strong faith and the majority of his output is influenced by his Catholicism; he was organist at the Eglise de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris for over 60 years!
Here is the beautiful O Sacrum Convivium performed by The Cambridge Singers/John Rutter:
Continuing on with the Eucharist theme — here is the ‘Communion’ movement from the Messe de la Pentecôte for organ. It’s called ‘Les oiseaux et les sources’ and is filled with birdsong. This video also has the score, and you can see where Messiaen writes ‘oiseau’ to tell the player which lines are birdsong. Listen from 17.50.
On this the final day of messages from Robert and me, I’d like to say a huge thank you for welcoming me so warmly into the FHCS family this year!
It’s been a real pleasure to make music with you all, and get to know so many of you over the year. Greatly looking forward to seeing you all again and singing together, whenever that might be. Do keep in touch over the summer.
Very best wishes
Once again we have a video attachment from Robert
Take care everyone!
We have come to the end of our virtual Summer Term. On Sunday we should be holding our Summer Concert at St George's Campden Hill.
I hope you have enjoyed our weekly emails, and thank you for your responses, it is so good to hear from you and receive feed-back.
Sadly we have nothing concrete to tell you with regard to whether or not we can resume in September. You have no doubt been reading the many and varied articles about the problems associated with singing during this pandemic and at the moment it is impossible to plan a way forward. We are trying to remain positive, St. Stephen's Gloucester Road is still booked for 5th December, and we hope we will be able to get back together, in one way or another, at some point next term.
Once again thank you so much for your voluntary donations and subscriptions this term. You have been very generous, and it is much appreciated.
I wanted to end by sending you another piece of music; there are so many to choose from and then last week I received from the wonderful Temple Music, one of my all time favourites so I knew this had to be it !!! We have talked about including this in our Christmas Concert. O Magnum Mysterium sung in lockdown by the Holst Singers, I find it very moving and quite brilliant.
This evening was due to be the Holst Singers’ annual concert with Temple Music, but for reasons we are all too aware of it isn’t to be. Temple Music at Home is instead delighted to be able to share with you a special performance the choir has done whilst they have been spending lockdown at home. Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium is sensitive and spiritual, with thick layers of sustained choral lines placed one on top of the other blending to create indulgent yet deceptively simple harmonies. The composer said of this work, "I wanted this piece to resonate immediately and deeply into the core of the listener, to illumine through sound." Which of us doesn’t need to be brightened during this ongoing strange period in our lives?
On behalf of the Committee I hope you all have a really enjoyable summer. We will be in touch as soon as we have some news to share, and certainly well before September.
Take care and please keep safe.
Carol has a little tune to share to start the summer:
On the day that we were due to be performing our summer concert together, here is a little summery musical interlude for you! We thought it would be nice to end the virtual term with some music from a couple of familiar faces….
Very best wishes for the summer break, and hope to see you soon!
Robert and Tom