On 4 December the choir was privileged to be part of the world premiere performance of music from 'Let There Be Joy!' a book of music with scottish connections for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, edited by Dr Raymond White. The book was published earlier this year along with a book of keyboard music 'A Kist o' Whistles.
We were accompanied by a chamber orchestra lead by Dean Hollebon, together with the chamber organ played by Dr White and Gregory Peyroux.
I have to say this would have been one of the more difficult concerts to prepare for, mainly due to the unfamiliarity of some of the words and the way that many words are stressed differently to what we are accustomed. Take the first verse of Rorate, Celi. Desuper! :
Rorate, celi, desuper
Hevins distill your balmy schouris
for now is rissin the brycht day ster
from the ros Mary, flour of flouris
The cleir sone quhome no clud devouris
surminting Phebus in the est
is sumin of his hevinly touris
et nobis puer natus est.
Dr White was very patient with us while we came to grips with pronunciation and style. Unlike our usual sort of music, where we pencil in markings above or below the notes, our books instead had marks over the words which were all written on the facing page. It was neccesary to learn the tune quickly so that you could concentrate on the words. I'm sure in the first few rehearsals we would have looked like a crowd watching a tennis match!
The hard work paid off and I think we gave a creditable performance, with excellent accompaniment provided by a chamber orchestra. We had a gratifyingly large crowd who certainly seemed to appreciate the music.
The writer made her conducting debut which has made her appreciate even more the amazing job done by our musical director Di Lenihan! There is a split-second of terror prior to the first note the choir sings, wondering if you have given them the right signals so that they will come in.
Our Easter concert was performed yesterday to a small but appreciative audience.
The Concertino women started with the Crux Fidelis followed by Tartini's Stabat Mater. The Stabat Mater had a false which just shows how easily something can wrong if you don't concentrate! Although the work is in 3-part harmony, the first note has the altos and second sopranos sharing an F with the first sopranos on an A. However we were given an F-A-C arpeggio to pitch to and we first sopranos naturally gravitated to the top note - because first sops always have the top note right? Once that was sorted we sailed on through, and made a pretty good job of it, although with the amount of words we traversed, it was hard to not to bury our heads in our music.
The full choir then sang three Easter works, including a piece by an unknown composer 'Do Not Be Afraid' which included a cantor part sung by Malcolm Williams and was very enjoyable to sing. Cellist Wayne Perniskie then played two lovely Romantic pieces.
Following a brief interval the choir with Dr Raymond White at the organ, performed Stainer's Crucifixion. We were very glad to have the organ as earlier in the week there had a been a bit of a panic when smoke was seen issuing from it! However all was well on the day. Clive Thompson and Michael Buick were the tenor and bass soloists respectively and both did a beautiful job. This choir member had to blink back tears after Clive sang with such haunting simplicity the last line 'And he he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost'.
The choir now has a well-earned break before rehearsals start for our Central Otago concert.
I'm a soprano :)