It’s funny being involved in choral music, as Christmas seems to start so early when you begin rehearsing festive music a month or so in advance! Now that it’s December, I think it’s finally a more acceptable time to be sharing news of the three Christmas performances I’ve got coming up.
What Cheer? Good Cheer!
I accompany the children’s choir SignuptoSing, the youth choir attached to Saffron Walden Choral Society, and was really excited to be asked to write a piece for us to perform at the Spirit of Christmas concert in St Mary’s, Saffron Walden, on 9th December. I spent a long time wondering which text to use, before eventually deciding on ‘What Cheer? Good Cheer!’ because it’s just so happy. I completely adore Walton’s SATB setting of these words but I think my setting for children and piano is sufficiently different from his; perhaps not quite so elegant and maybe a bit more boisterously enthusiastic! I’ve been so impressed with how quickly the singers have picked it up and can’t wait for the performance next weekend.
Ave Maria and Caritas Chamber Choir
In October I finished my setting of Ave Maria commissioned by Caritas Chamber Choir. It was really lovely to feel able to write a piece with plenty of divisi for such a large and capable choir! It’s being premiered on 7th December in Canterbury:
Back in early November I wrote a setting of the Christmas lullaby text ‘Dormi Jesu’ for upper voices (SSAA); I didn’t write it for any particular purpose, just for fun, and it was only a few hours from having the idea to finishing it! Normally I spend far longer getting stuck and worrying about a piece. It was very lucky that after I finished it it turned out to fit into the Granta Chorale programme for our Christmas concerts, so we’re performing it in the chapel of St John’s College, Cambridge on 13th December and then in All Saints’ Church, Great Chesterford on 6th January. It’s a short piece, and very simple in construction, based around a couple of ostinato figures. The harmony is much simpler than I would normally try and write, too – although I think in the context of a lullaby that’s no bad thing!
Here’s part of our Christmas poster – a team effort with my Mum. She did the text and I made the star design:
In other news: Frozen Fields
Something else I’ve been up to recently has been helping my Mum to organise incidental music for a Christmas play in Cambridge by Nick Warburton. We’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with percussion, and coming up with plans for little pieces to go between the different acts. The performers don’t read music so it’s been a fascinating insight into how to convey musical instructions without writing them in the usual notation. I’d definitely be interested in writing music to go alongside plays in the future.
So those are my bits of Christmassy compositional news for 2017/8 – thank you for reading, and MERRY CHRISTMAS when it eventually arrives!