Excerpt: Jenkins’ Stabat Mater

Excerpt: Dvorak’s Mass in D

Amazing choir (Perpetuum Jazzile) uses their hands to simulate storm

The thing I love about singing with choirs is the phenomenal range of music, styles and singers. Take a look at this choir, Perpetuum Jazzile, Slovenia’s only jazz choir, simulating a storm with their fingers, hands and feet, before leading into a chorus with strong African themes.

The Choral Public Domain Library

Buried away on the internet is an absolute treasure trove of choral music. Accessed through a wiki page, the Choral Public Domain Library, which was started in 1998, permits unrestricted downloads of free music. For instance, since we first performed Gounod’s Stabat Mater, using copies photocopied with the permission of the British Library, someone has taken the time to enter the entire score via a music editor to allow choirs to download it for free.

A quick look at Rachmaninov revealed four versions (!) of Bogoroditze Devo, all in nice clear print.

Take a look – and see if you can find a hidden gem for BCS or the BCS Small Choir to sing.

Gabriel Fauré

FauréExcerpted from Wikipedia, which has a very extensive biography:

Gabriel Urbain Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers. Among his best-known works are his Nocturnes for piano, the songs “Après un rêve” and “Clair de lune”, and his Requiem.

Born into a cultured but not unusually musical family, Fauré revealed his talent when he was a small boy. He was sent to a music college in Paris, where he was trained to be a church organist and choirmaster. Among his teachers was Camille Saint-Saëns, who became a life-long friend.

In his early years, Fauré earned a modest living as an organist and teacher, leaving him little time for composition. When he became successful, holding the important posts of organist of the Église de la Madeleine and head of the Paris Conservatoire, he still lacked time for composing, retreating to the countryside in the summer holidays to concentrate on composition.

By his last years, Fauré was recognised in France as the leading French composer of his day. An unprecedented national musical tribute was held for him in Paris in 1922 headed by the President of the Republic. Fauré had many admirers in England, but his music, though known in other countries, took many decades more to become widely accepted. His music has been described as linking the end of Romanticism with the modernism of the second quarter of the 20th century. When he was born, Hector Berlioz was still composing, and by the time of his death the atonal music of the Second Viennese School was being heard.

The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which describes him as the most advanced composer of his generation in France, notes that his harmonic and melodic innovations affected the teaching of harmony for later generations. In contrast with the charm of his earlier music, his last works, written when increasing deafness had struck him, are elusive and withdrawn in character.

If you are interested in reading more about Fauré’s Requiem, Wikipedia has a specific page dedicated to his interpretation.

Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod, 1859From Wikipedia:

Charles-François Gounod (17 June 1818 – 17 October or 18 October 1893) was born in Paris, the son of a pianist mother and an artist father. His mother was his first piano teacher. Under her tutelage, Gounod first showed his musical talents. He entered the Paris Conservatoire where he studied under Fromental Halévy and Pierre Zimmermann (he later married Zimmermann’s daughter). In 1839, he won the Prix de Rome for his cantata Fernand. He was following his father; François-Louis Gounod (d. 1823) had won the second Prix de Rome in painting in 1783.
In Italy he studied the music of Palestrina and other sacred works of the sixteenth century; these he never ceased to cherish. Around 1846-47 he began studying for the priesthood, but he changed his mind and went back to composition.
In 1854, Gounod completed a Messe Solennelle, also known as the Saint Cecilia Mass. This work was first performed, in its entirety, for the church of Saint Eustache in Paris on Saint Cecilia’s Day, November 22, 1855; from this rendition dates Gounod’s fame as a noteworthy composer.
During 1855 Gounod wrote two symphonies. His Symphony No. 1 in D major was the inspiration for the Symphony in C, composed later that year by Georges Bizet, who was then Gounod’s 17-year-old student. In the CD era a few recordings of these pieces have emerged: by Michel Plasson conducting the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, and by Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Gounod wrote his first opera, Sapho, in 1851, at the urging of his friend Pauline Viardot; it was a commercial failure. He had no great theatrical success until Faust (1859), based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play, Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy. This remains the composition for which he is best known, and although it took a while to achieve renown, it became one of the most frequently staged operas of all time. The romantic and melodious Roméo et Juliette (based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet), premiered in 1867, is revived occasionally then but has never come close to matching Faust’s popularity. Mireille, first performed in 1864, has been admired by connoisseurs rather than by the general public. The other Gounod operas have fallen into oblivion.
From 1870 to 1874 Gounod lived in England, becoming the first conductor of what is now the Royal Choral Society. Much of his music from this time is vocal. He became entangled with the amateur English singer Georgina Weldon,[6] a relationship (platonic, it seems) which ended in great acrimony and embittered litigation. Gounod had lodged with Weldon and her husband in London’s Tavistock House.
Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of Felix Mendelssohn, introduced the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach to Gounod, who came to revere Bach. For him, The Well-Tempered Clavier was “the law to pianoforte study…the unquestioned textbook of musical composition”. It inspired Gounod to devise an improvisation of a melody over the C major Prelude (BWV 846) from the collection’s first book. To this melody, in 1859, Gounod fitted the words of the Ave Maria, resulting in a setting that became world-famous.
Later in his life, Gounod returned to his early religious impulses, writing much sacred music. His Pontifical Anthem (Marche Pontificale, 1869) eventually (1949) became the official national anthem of Vatican City. He expressed a desire to compose his Messe à la mémoire de Jeanne d’Arc while kneeling on the stone on which Joan of Arc knelt at the coronation of Charles VII of France. A devout Catholic, he had on his piano a music-rack in which was carved an image of the face of Jesus.
He was made a Grand Officer of the Légion d’honneur in July 1888. In 1893, shortly after he had put the finishing touches to a requiem written for his grandson, he died of a stroke in Saint-Cloud, France.
One of Gounod’s short pieces for piano, “Funeral March of a Marionette”, received a new and unexpected lease of life from 1955 when it was first used as the theme for the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. His piano-accompanied songs were numerous and much praised by Ravel, but are seldom heard in recitals today.

There is also a facebook page devoted to Charles Gounod, as well as a Charles Gounod website. On the latter you can find translations of letters between him and his friends/colleagues.

John Randall’s Arundel 2010 photos

John Randall sent through a selection of pics he snapped at Arundel this year. They’ve all been added to Flickr as well as put in a gallery here. I particularly love the one of the three basses!

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Bavarian photos

These are some of my favourites from the fifty or so pictures of our Bavarian trip so far submitted. You can see the rest by looking at our Flickr photostream! I am sure there are many, many more lovely pictures out there. Why not email them to choirpics@basildonchoral.org? (And tell me you’ve done it so that I can put details of who took them in the description!)

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Report of our Gößweinstein concert in the Nordbayerisches Kurier

Thanks to Geoff Williams for this translation of an article published on Friday 29th October, sent through by Mr Polster, the owner of the coach company. Beware that it is a big dowload (around 11mb!). Top marks, too, to Geoff, Felicity and Cherry for being the only ones of us to be watching Stephen at the moment the photographer took his snap…

Nordbayerische Kurier concert report

 

Heike’s Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing) recipe

Step 1

  1. White onions, cut into cubes
  2. Diced white bacon (probably streaky?)
  3. Garlic roll (is this a clove do you think?)
  4. Sauté all

Step 2

  1. Chop the cabbage, remove tough stems
  2. Pour in stock and simmer well for three-quarters of an hour

Step 3

  1. Puree with a hand blender to your preferred consistency (i.e. not too much!)
  2. Thicken with corn starch /Roux
  3. Add cream
  4. Season with nutmeg and granulated bouillon (stockcube)

If anyone has any tips on how to improve on this, please add your comments!

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