Hello and welcome to the Notes for Members page!
This page will contain a recap of rehearsals, homework, links to practise websites and rehearsal dates.
28th August 2020
Well, the summer seems to have well and truly ended judging by the wet weather at the moment. I hope you are all keeping well, and coping with the very different lives we are living. Normally at this time we would be talking about when choir will start again, and what music we will be singing this Autumn, and looking forward to our Autumn concerts. How times have changed!
At the moment, we don’t know when we will be able to rehearse together in the school again – they return on 1st September but whether they will allow us in (and how many of us if they do) is still not clear. At the moment, we are continuing with our Zoom rehearsals every Monday night, starting with a quick chat beforehand from 6.30 and a rehearsal from 7 until 8. It is a little odd, especially when you are singing at full volume all by yourself, but it does bring us together.
David has been doing some sterling work in preparing tracks for us to sing to, and conducting videos and this has been an immense help. We hope you have enjoyed the Vivaldi, the Ave verum and the Cantique de Jean Racine – if you have any suggestions you would like us to consider do let one of the committee know. The music and backing tracks are on the Choir’s Dropbox account, and the conducting is on Youtube. It is possible to join the rehearsals via a landline if you don’t have suitable technology at home, or we could put you in touch with someone who does join them, and you could go to the rehearsal at their home (with suitable social distancing of course).
We are still working out how we will hold the AGM in October – the Charity Commission hasn’t recommended anything as yet, but we will need to hold one in some shape or form – probably with reports and voting by post. We will let you all know as soon as we have a process sorted out.
The Committee have decided to extend the 2019/20 membership until 1st January 2021 so subscriptions are not due in September. We hope to take a decision on the subscription from January – September 2021 before the AGM. Meanwhile, if anyone would like to make a contribution to our costs, this would be most welcome.
Stay well and keep safe.
Ivan and the Committee
9th July 2020
I trust everyone is well and not suffering from ‘lockdown blues’. We have had a virtual committee meeting – first the positives.
We have decided to try virtual rehearsals. Part of the motivation for this is to get us all together if only virtually. Initially we will be singing Vivaldi’s Gloria. We are working on the final details. We will be using ‘Zoom’ which is free to download. We hope to start in 3 or 4 weeks time on a Monday evening for an hour between 7 and 8pm. Further details will be forwarded as soon as they are available. In response to my earlier message I know a number of you said you would not be happy with a virtual rehearsal, but I do hope you might give it a try and join us.
The future programme is very uncertain. We are working on the assumption that the earliest we might resume full rehearsals is January 2021. On this basis there will be no concert this autumn. However we are still hoping that we might be able to perform our annual Messiah Concert. This depends on whether it will be possible to have a number of rehearsals in November. The date for this concert will be Tuesday 15th December. Please keep this date free just in case!
If it is possible to resume rehearsals in January 2021, it may be that this would be on a restricted basis which would affect the programme of any concert we are able to perform. However we are anxious to get back together as soon as it is safe to do so.
If we are able to resume in January 2021 our concert dates are provisionally
Spring Concert Sat 13th March programme to be confirmed
Summer Concert Sat 19th June programme to be confirmed
Autumn Concert Sat 27th November. This is planned to be our joint concert with Coventry Philharmonic Choir with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem
The Messiah Tuesday 14th December
We were hoping to have an outdoor summer social event however given current restrictions particularly with large gatherings this is unlikely to happen. However we will keep this under review.
I look forward to singing with you all again whenever that may be!
Stay safe and well
The committee met yesterday (25th April) via Zoom, and assuming that we are able to begin rehearsals in September, our provisional plan is for the Mozart Requiem and the Faure Requiem for our Autumn concert in St. Nicholas’ Church, Warwick. Most of us will already be very familiar with these and this should be a gentle and uplifting way of getting us back into the swing of things. And of course, we are still working towards our exciting joint Verdi Requiem with Coventry Philharmonic Choir for next Spring. We are also hoping to organise a social event in the summer if possible, depending on what happens with the lockdown and social distancing.
Anyone who is feeling creative and wants to exercise their talents should try entering one of the King Lear Prizes (https://www.kinglearprizes.org.uk). You have to be over 70 to enter these, and there are prizes for short stories, poetry, drama, musical composition and art. And if you want to brush up on almost any subject why not have a look at Futurelearn (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses) where there are hundreds of online courses from universities and other organisations, from Literature and History to Law, IT and Science and Engineering.
After last week’s lessons on birdsong, here is an applied version, with apologies to Mozart, although anyone who can recognise all of the birds probably deserves a medal.
And here are some weekly activities to keep your brains working as well as your voices. Warwickshire County Council’s Heritage department have a weekly quiz (with some interesting nuggets of local history). A local one run by Warwickshire organiser Richard Adams is here and Greene King have a pub quiz every Wednesday and Bingo on Thursdays at https://www.greenekingbrewery.co.uk/the-lock-inn/virtual-pub-quiz/ – other brands are available as there are a lot of virtual pub quizzes out there.
Stay well, and enjoy the sunshine before next week’s rain comes along.
Ivan and the Committee
A slightly belated happy Easter – I hope the Easter Bunny (who is an essential key worker, apparently) brought you some nice treats.
If you are looking back nostalgically to last year, here is a link to an Italian video of Va, Pensiero, which is perhaps a couple of notches above our own, but then they are opera singers! It is also quite moving. Thank you to Duncan for sharing it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTVXEGIS3LE&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR26rfg0PfHQJsyi56FqBmTvSytry8bISY3a4G17UaypFplLgV7WRoV6gjI
While you are sitting in the garden, should you be wondering which bird you can hear singing, the National Trust have put together a useful guide at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/our-guide-to-birdsong-and-bird-spotting?campid=email_central_Newsletter_16042020_Sub2aMEMNONFAM
And for everyone shut indoors, here are two of Andrew Laverock’s rather dizzying bicycle trips around Warwick (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSnqmSj5VWI) and Leamington (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTlA5jtt1yA). He hasn’t done one of Kenilworth yet sadly.
Have you run out of things to read? Don’t forget that the library service has a marvellous eBook section with magazines, music and more. This is the link https://library.warwickshire.gov.uk/iguana/www.main.cls?surl=eBooks. If you don’t have a library card you can apply online, with your library number arriving by email. There is also Project Gutenberg – 60,000 books to read for free. They are mostly older books that are out of copyright, but they can be read on a number of platforms, including just a basic web browser on a phone, Ipad, laptop or PC. Here is the link to their Bookshelves https://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Category:Bookshelf. So no more excuses on why you haven’t finished the whole of Dickens! It’s a great resource to find that book you haven’t read for years as well.
If there are any ladies (or gentlemen) who are good at sewing out there and would be interested in keeping busy making items for local key workers, could you email Steph. They are looking for scrubs bags and headbands, which are easy to make and also for entire sets of scrubs, for the more experienced, and we have a local group (Warwickshire scrubbers) who are co-ordinating this.
Stay safe and well
Ivan and the Committee
16th April 2020
Good afternoon all
Here is your weekly newsletter with yet more suggestions of things to do.
We do hope everyone is staying well and is able to get their shopping, prescriptions, and all the other important bits and bobs.
There are yet more options for singing this week.
- The Stay at Home choir is partnering with the King’s Singers. Go to https://stayathomechoir.comto register. Their first project is called Gloria but no more details yet, and you can follow them on Twitter.
- Duet Yourself rehearses folk and rock songs three times a week with downloadable sheet music. Their site is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/560884704783731/
- The sofa singers have a sing each Friday at 11.00 a.m. , and you need a free ticket from Eventbrite to get the access code for Zoom. People can see you on this one, so smile as you sing! Search for sofa singers for details for next week.
If you are fed up of four walls, why not try a virtual tour?
- If you only go to Kenilworth or Warwick Castle for fireworks or carols why not take these 360 degree tours to explore them?
o Kenilworth – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-iWglWyF9M.
o Warwick – https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=HCmSPZ4meT4
- Or if you really need to get away, here is the Grand Canyon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxhTjldcHrY
- For the culture vultures, how about the Vatican? (http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/collezioni/musei/tour-virtuali-elenco.html).
- Or you can drop in on Her Majesty to check her social distancing (https://www.royal.uk/white-drawing-room-buckingham-palace).
For musical entertainment, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is available this evening for 48 hours at https://www.youtube.com/theshowsmustgoon and a new Lloyd Webber musical is promised each week from here on.
Anyway, that should keep us all busy for a little while. If you are finding these newsletters irritating rather than helpful, do drop Steph a note to ask to be taken off the list! And do let us know if you have any suggestions for entertainment or information.
Enjoy the sunshine (it is on its way) and stay well.
Ivan and the Committee.
3rd April 2020
We hope everyone is well, and keeping busy in the current emergency. At least we have had fine weather so can get out into the garden or outside for our permitted daily constitutional! The support shown for the NHS and all the other emergency workers last night was heartwarming, as are the many stories of people volunteering to help each other.
Some more resources for you to while away the time:
As you may have seen Caroline has put Gareth Malone’ s Great British Home Chorus on our Facebook page. Here is the link again https://decca.com/greatbritishhomechorus/ It happens every evening at 5.30, so do register and sing along. You can also catch up via YouTube if you miss it.
Duncan Gallie has recommended the Berlin Philharmonic where he has watched the Seasons conducted by Simon Rattle. ‘Apart from a quality of choir singing that almost rivalled our own, the soloists and orchestra were fabulous. There was an interesting introductory presentation by Simon Halsey about the significance of the piece in the development of choral music and some words on the difficulties it presents for singers’. Other pieces are available! Registration is quite straight forward at digitalconcerthall.com/en/devices. They suggest that you go into ‘Tickets’ and insert the code BERLINPHIL. They send you an email to confirm.
The National Theatre are streaming plays for free. The link is http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout99-national-theatre-at-home or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUDq1XzCY0NIOYVJvEMQjqw and it will be every Thursday starting with One Man, Two Guvnors then available for 7 days. The RSC, Royal Opera House and many others are streaming through Marquee TV which has a 30 day free trial. The link is https://www.marquee.tv/freetrial?msclkid=8bb402ad2e8018d43cc05cd0f7c7b38d.
And finally how about some quizzes? Try https://www.educationquizzes.com/specialist/classical-music/ for 25 varied quizzes on different areas of classical music.
There are also local voluntary groups for shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking or anything else. You can volunteer or request help and there is lots of handy information about local shops and deliveries.
Warwick and Leamington. https://warwickleamingtoncovidhelp.wordpress.com.
Stay well everyone
Ivan and the WKCS committee
27th March 2020
GOOD NEWS GOOD NEWS GOOD NEWS
As many of you may know we having been discussing with Coventry Philharmonic Choir the possibility of a joint production of Verdi’s Requiem. This has now been formally agreed. The performance will be on 20th March 2021 at Warwick Hall, on the Warwick School campus. Please make sure the date is in the diary. To make a success of the concert we will need to sell at least 400 tickets between the two choirs. So make sure friends, relatives and aficionados have the date in their diaries.
We are looking at holding the skittles evening on 20th June 2020. This is of course dependent on government advice at the time about social gatherings. It will I hope give us an opportunity to meet before the summer break.
Haydn’s The Seasons.
Many of you (and me) have expressed regret that after all our hard work the concert is not happening. The committee working with David will look at our future programme to see if we can perform this work in the not too distant future. No promises.
As you know Margaret one of our founder members died earlier this year. In her will she left a bequest of £5,000 to the choir. The committee will be considering how best to use this money as a celebration of Margaret’s life. If you have any thoughts please let me or any member of the committee have your ideas.
Since so many of us are now having to stay mostly at home, here are a couple of ideas for things to watch or listen to.
- If you like opera, the Met in New York do an opera a day online via https://www.metopera.orgwhich you can watch on a PC or laptop, or there is an app which can be used if you have Amazon or a Samsung Smart TV. Today’s is La Boheme with Angela Gheorghiu and Ramon Vargas.
- Sky Arts have great classical music, ballet and opera. If you don’t have a Sky package, you can get them through NOW TV’s entertainment pass, which has a 7-day free trial, and then costs £8.99 per month, and is very easy to cancel.
- There is always Radio 3 and Classic FM but have you checked out Scala Radio yet? It is a digital station and has a great deal more vocal and choral music than Classic.
And finally stay safe and well so that you can bring your lusty voices to our first rehearsal on Monday 7th September.
Rehearsals and Concerts Cancelled
I have been discussing with members of the committee how we should respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. This is particularly difficult as the advice from the Government does appear to be changing rapidly. However in part because of the age profile of the choir we have decided to cancel all rehearsals starting with Monday’s rehearsal (March 16th). The concert on 4th April and the summer concert on 20th June are also cancelled. The reason for cancelling the summer concert is rehearsals would take place during the time when the epidemic is forecast to be reaching its peak.
Should the epidemic not be as long lasting or as widespread as currently forecast we will look at the possibility of holding a summer concert but currently I think this is unlikely.
Those of you who have hired copies of the score will need to return them to Caroline Robertson. She has kindly agreed to be at Coten End school tomorrow night between 7.00pm and 7.45pm to collect copies of the score. Alternatively could you return them to her home address, 57, Eden Croft, Kenilworth.
As things stand at the moment the next rehearsal will be at the beginning of the autumn term on Monday 7th September.
I am discussing with the committee whether we should proceed with the skittles evening on Saturday 2nd May and our end of year social on Monday 22nd June and I will circulate a further email as soon as possible.
Best wishes to everyone and stay well
Chairman’s Notes March 2020
Well done to everyone for putting in so much hard work on the Seasons. It has been quite a challenge getting to grips with it, as very few people had sung it before. However, it is starting to sound at times as if we actually know what we are doing! Thank you so much to David and to Colin for their sterling efforts in sorting us all out.
Joan and Graham Stevens are kindly organising another skittles evening, so please put Saturday May 2nd in your diaries. This will again be at Leek Wootton Social club and will include a hot supper. We had a really good time at this event last year, and it is great to see it returning. More details to follow.
We are considering organising a trip to join The Really Big Chorus’s Handel extravaganza on 12th July in the Royal Albert Hall. Tickets for this are £46 in the main area, or £35 in the circle, and we would travel by train. The music for this includes 8 Handel choruses, (three from the Messiah, and others from Alexander’s Feast, Israel in Egypt, Judas Maccabaeus and Samson) plus Zadok the Priest. There will also be orchestral and solo pieces. The music will cost £12.95. If you would be interested in this could you please email Steph at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The summer concert will be on 20th June and will feature English Choral Music. It will include: Parry I was Glad and Blest pair of sirens; Elgar Songs from the Bavarian Highlands; Will Todd The Lord’s my Shepherd and The call of wisdom; Rutter Birthday Madrigals, and Vaughan Williams: Valiant for Truth.
With best wishes for happy practising.
Ivan and the WKCS committee.
What a super Messiah on Tuesday. We had a lovely audience who had a great evening despite the ghastly weather. Thanks also to our lovely soloists, to the brilliant Dave Pugh, of course to Colin for supporting us so wonderfully and to David for taking us through Messiah so clearly. Presumably three weeks preparation for a huge oratorio wouldn’t be his preferred way of starting his work with us but his way of approaching such a big oratorio in three weeks was really refreshing. The New Year will be a lot of fun.
Onwards to January and Haydn’s The Seasons. Caroline has posted a Youtube link on Facebook which you may want to have a look at in advance.
The minutes of two recent committee meetings are attached below:
‘The AGM was held on 14th October and was well attended. The Chairman congratulated the choir on the excellent concerts during the year (please see under Welcome/Recent Concerts). He also thanked the Committee members for all their hard work. Then he thanked Colin Druce for his uplifting contribution to proceedings. He also thanked Rebecca for standing in this term. Special thanks also to Caroline Robertson and Pat Toulmin for their work on the Facebook page and the web site respectively. He acknowledged that the most awkward moment of the year was the resignation of Benedict Wilson to follow his career promotion. He said we all owed Benedict a large debt for bringing the choir forward in quality and performance skill. Out of 17 applicants, we are fortunate in having found a marvellous replacement in the shape of David Wynne, himself a celebrated concert soloist, and also conductor of the Birmingham Festival Choral Society. Our Chairman acknowledged that we, like other choirs have a challenge to finance the costs of full scale concerts. The discussion revolved around ways of increasing long term funding. Several good ideas were put forward by Anne Round and Ian Beveridge among others. Due to a diary clash of our new Musical Director, David Wynne, we are moving the Spring Concert forward to 4th April. This also has some unfortunate clashes. Our Treasurer Rosemary Lawrence reported on the very satisfactory financial condition of the choir. In 2018/2019 the choir broke even, helped by good concert attendance, and Friends and Sponsors. Following sale of the Staging (will we live to regret that??), our total cash jumped to £26,000, and that before the receipt of Gift Aid. The Chairman realised members of the choir couldn’t take any more news and we broke up for drinks, kindly provided by Graham and Edna. Thanks all round.’
Dear Choir Members
Summer greetings to you all and trust you are all enjoying our typical summer weather! This is the traditional end of term summary and looking forward to a new season.
We said farewell to Benedict in June and wish him all the best with his new job in Shrewsbury. He joined the choir at the same time as I five years ago. I certainly found singing under his direction challenging at times but I think we can all agree that he lifted the standard of our performances.
We have appointed a new Musical director, David Wynne. Those of you who were at the audition on Monday 8th July will have met him already. He has supplied a short biography included below so you can get to know him before he starts!
For the last 4 years David has been Music Director of Birmingham Festival Choral Society. He is relinquishing his current role as MD of the Ryton Chorale (Worksop) where he has been director for 6 years.
As a visiting lecturer at the Royal Birmingham Junior Conservatoire, David works as choral director of the Senior Chorus and the Vocal Ensemble. He teaches choral conducting, singing and musicianship, and is also vocal co-ordinator for the department.
With his wife, Alexandra, they co-run (and co-founded) the St. Chad’s Cathedral Junior Choir and the extensive Choral Outreach Programme which sees them teaching choral singing to approx. 500 children a year across Birmingham. He has worked with some of the country’s leading music education organisations, including: Opera North, Welsh National Opera, the Armonico Consort and Leicester and Leeds Cathedral’s education departments. He holds a masters’ degree in Vocal and Operatic performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and studied choral conducting with Paul Spicer after receiving a scholarship. He is a busy freelance baritone soloist, up until recently, a lay clerk at St. Chad’s Cathedral Birmingham, and has performed several times as a musician of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Away from music David enjoys cooking and walking his Dalmatian, Sherlock. He and his wife Alexandra are proud parents to Sidney (aged 1), who is now eating them slowly out of house and home.
Unfortunately he has to give notice to his existing choir so will not take up his post until 25th Nov when we start our rehearsals for the Messiah. For our autumn rehearsals and concert Rebecca Mills who all of you know will be acting Musical Director. I am very grateful to Rebecca for stepping into this role.
I would like to thank all members of the choir who turned up for the auditions on July 8th and 15th. Not only did it mean the committee where able to gauge opinion from across the choir it also meant our prospective MD had a full choir to work with.
We can reflect on a successful and varied programme. For our November 2018 concert marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War we had the reflective Faure’s Requiem and the optimism of Rutter’s Gloria. This was followed by our annual performance of the Messiah at St Nicholas Church in Kenilworth. Our spring concert was the well received St John Passion. Lastly our ‘Music for a summer evening’ more Madrigals and a venture into Opera Choruses performed for an enthusiastic audience.
We had intended to start the new season with Handel’s Israel in Egypt. However the cost of the orchestra would amount to about £4,000. Given all the other costs involved and our average audience size we estimated that the potential loss would be approximately £5,000. Although we do have reserves it would not be prudent or sustainable in the long run to cover such losses from reserves. We are therefore performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.
I think we all wish to put on the larger scale works with orchestra. To cover losses there are a number of options such as increasing membership fees and increase the price of tickets. We have done both of these recently but only substantial further increases could cover the cost of performing large scale works. This is not an attractive option.
We have started a Sponsorship Scheme and a Friends of the Choir scheme. This is beginning to bear fruit with just over £1,000 raised so far. This is a good start but more needs to be done. Please assist in any way you can.
I should like, on the Choir’s behalf, to acknowledge the sterling work that continues to be undertaken by members of the Committee – Nick Gilbert, Jane Brock, Caroline Robertson, Stephanie Lane, Adrian Hopkinson, Anne-Marie Reddin, Rosemary Lawrence, Lynne Mann, Joan Stevens and Sheila Verrier.
On this point Anne Marie Reddin is leaving the committee. We do need new committee members. We work not on the principal of ‘many hands make light work’ rather than ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. So please consider if you can make a contribution.
Look forward to seeing you all with lusty voices on September 2nd at Coten End School.
Dates for your Diary
2/9/19 First rehearsal Coten End School
23/11/19 Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle St Nicholas Warwick
10/12/19 Handel Messiah St Nicholas Kenilworth
Please note this is a Tuesday which gives an extra Monday for rehearsal
4/4/20 Haydn The Seasons St John’s Kenilworth
Date TBC Music for Summer venue TBC
New Musical Director
After the successful auditions this is the letter sent to members by our Chairman:
I trust you are all enjoying the summer break. This is a brief note about our new Musical Director.
Thank you all for turning out in force for two auditions. I am very pleased to tell you that David Wynne has accepted the post. He was clearly the first choice of the majority of the choir as well as the committee. He will be unable to start until the end of the year due to existing commitments. He is however hoping to take the rehearsals and concert for our annual performance of Messiah and I am awaiting confirmation of this.
I am very grateful to Rebecca Mills who will be our acting Musical Director for our autumn concert of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.
I will send out a full newsletter once all the arrangements have been confirmed.
Also, a very big thank you to everyone who sang at the wedding at St Charles Borromeo last Friday. Although you may have felt a little lonely in the gallery, the family were very appreciative. We have been sent a lovely card which will be at the first rehearsal next year (which by the way is on 2nd September). We have also been sent a cheque for £100!
Well done to everyone who took part – it was a marvellous effort.