It is now more than a year since the choir have been able to meet physically and sing together. It has been a year of significant change, in many ways, and we are pleased to report that we remain buoyant, and confident that we will sing together again before too long.
We have also got to grips with virtual singing practices on Zoom under the remarkable leadership of Sebastian Thomson, our musical director, supported by the IT skills of Ralph Knowles. Sebastian does not hear our voices but is still able to motivate us and help us learn quite difficult sections. These sessions are a poor substitute for our normal practices, but they have kept us in voice and have cemented our friendship.
In the Spring term we sang ‘Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace’ by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, ‘Verleih uns Freiden’ (Grant us Thy Peace) by Felix Mendelssohn and ‘Te Deum in C’ by Franz Joseph Haydn; three really beautiful pieces. We chose to sing all in the languages in which they were composed, and for the last two this means singing in German and Latin. It perhaps helped that we could not be heard while we grappled with some of the phrases!
We have planned further Zoom sessions in April and May, 6 weeks of madrigals and short pieces via Zoom, before Boris’ roadmap allows us some freedom, at which point I suspect most of us will want to spread our wings while the weather is warm.
The other activity which Zoom has facilitated are our Quiz evenings for choir members and their families. We had a further one before Easter which was great fun. Zoom has its advantages – being able to sit comfortably at home with a glass or two of booze and no worries about either getting dressed up for the occasion or driving!
Will we be allowed actual practice sessions come the Autumn? We really hope so, and in order to be ready we have planned the pieces we would hope to sing. With all the talk of a possible third wave of infections we have doubts about holding a November concert, but perhaps by next Spring we will be performing again in All Saints’ Church. Fingers crossed!
The start of another difficult year and the choir are still unable to meet and practise together, nor are we able to even plan concerts. Vaccination may allow us to meet physically in the Autumn, but that is not guaranteed – until then we have Zoom!
The choir are now enjoying another term of singing using Zoom, skilfully guided by our musical director, Sebastian Thomson. We are singing Haydn’s ‘Te Deum’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘Verleih uns Frieden’ – two beautiful pieces. Although we cannot hear each other sing there is nevertheless pleasure in singing together and learning new pieces which will extend our repertoire. We also have the fillip of a social chat for a few minutes before practice begins when we can share some light-hearted conversation.
We had three sessions of Carol Singing via Zoom in December which helped foster a festive mood prior to a very different Christmas from usual.
The other social interaction we have enjoyed as a choir has been our excellent Quiz evenings via Zoom. We had one in November and another, a Christmas Quiz, on 18th December. Our quizmaster, Neil Weston, was on fine form, and both evenings went well. We hope that future quizzes will be on the agenda.
We are having three Christmas Zoom singing sessions for the three weeks from 27th November at the cost of £10. These are open to anyone who would like to join us. They run from 7:15 to 8:30 pm on a Friday evening. We will be concentrating on Christmas carols from Carols for Choirs Vols. 1 and 2, so the songs will be familiar. Have no fear that anyone will criticise your voice – you will be muted and will be singing to yourself at home, but in the jovial company of others on Zoom. Please join us.
Unfortunately, the All Saints’ Singers have not been able to meet in person during the Covid crisis, but, not to be outdone, a stalwart group have been singing with our music director, Sebastian Thomson, using Zoom.
We have enjoyed getting to grips with Brahms’ ‘How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place’, Vivaldi’s Credo RV 591 and Mendelssohn’s Te Deum and look forward to tackling more beautiful choral works next term.
In addition, we are having three sessions singing Christmas carols and anthems in the run-up to Christmas.
Singing on Zoom has a few drawbacks, the main one being the inability to hear the sound of our voices together as a choir. Because of differences in timing between different internet systems using Zoom it is impossible to sing together. We therefore sit in the comfort of our own home and sing to ourselves. We hear the piano and are ably guided by Sebastian, and we accompany recordings of the pieces, but our voices are muted. Advantages include the fact that mistakes go unnoticed and, of course, refreshments can include wine or a sneaky gin and tonic, which helps enormously. More than that, we have the pleasure of a few minutes’ social interaction prior to the singing and that is helping raise our spirits and ensuring a sense of community.
Nothing will replace the joy of singing together as a choir, but it will be many months before we will be able to do that safely, and for some of us our Zoom sessions are the next best thing.
As soon as we are able to meet we will be working towards concerts. We will keep you posted.
The impact of Covid on choirs has been significant because singing is deemed to carry a substantial risk of droplet and aerosol dispersal, and thus the spread of Covid19. Even in Glyndebourne the singers have to be nine foot apart! Therefore, unfortunately, we are unable to plan any concerts for the immediate future. But please be assured that although we are unable to meet physically we are trying to keep ourselves in voice by holding virtual choir meetings in the form of Zoom sessions with our choirmaster, Sebastian Thomson. So far we have had two sessions and plan ten more over the autumn term. We have chosen two delightful pieces, Brahms’ ‘How lovely is thy dwelling place’ and Vivaldi’s Credo R.V. 591, to add to our repertoire.
As soon as the Covid pandemic allows us we will start planning our next concert. We will keep all those subscribing to our newsletter up to date with future plans.
We are looking for new singers. We rehearse on a Friday evening in Sutton Courtenay. Rehearsals for our next concert of three of Handel’s Chandos Anthems start on the 14th September 2018. You can just come along but it would be helpful if you were to contact the secretary then we can be sure to have a copy of the music for you.