Christmas Music at St Mary’s
Very seldom do I get the opportunity to write for the Parish News, and it certainly makes for an interesting time reminiscing over recent musical history, and looking back on the sheer quantity of music making covered in a relatively short, yet exceedingly intense period of the church year! Needless to say that both the choirs and brass group were on form throughout and sang and played respectively with good heart and gusto!
The season began with the Advent carol service. It is always one of the real highlights of my year. The choir worked hard to put together a varied musical programme consisting of new works, in addition to those drawn from more familiar, but much loved, territory. The Christmas Carol service also fully utilises our in-house musical forces and this year was certainly no exception. I was especially privileged to work with a number of soloists in various items; special mention must go to Noah for his wonderful rendition of the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Equally moving solos came from Eden and Jim in Harold Darke’s beautiful setting of ‘In the bleak Mid-winter’. Eleanor and Helena sang with precision and feeling in a new work ‘On Chrissimus Day’ written by choir alumni Gail Ford and Martin Angel. My thanks go to Jeremy Allen who chauffeured magnificently from the organ loft.
The Crib services saw some of the highest congregational attendance of any service that I have witnessed during my time working at St Mary’s. The Junior Choir sang valiantly at the earlier service, whilst the Choral Scholars took on the later of the two services. The earlier Crib Service marked Kate’s Ollerenshaw’s final service as Junior Choir coordinator, and we presented two framed photos of the Junior choir to her. She will be much missed in her role, though I am pleased that she has agreed to remain as a responsible adult on our choir rota. The Crib Services also seemed an apt time to give our young singers a bag of chocolate coins each – they have worked tremendously hard throughout this term!
On Christmas day I succumbed to the traditional winter lurgy and Jeremy graciously agreed to swap places and direct the choir. From upstairs, everyone sounded as though they were certainly in the mood for a lusty sing, and it felt as though they were trying to take the roof off during the final verse of ‘Hark the Herald’!
Joyful Noise had an especially busy and exciting Christmas, and sang in the market square on 2nd December for the ‘Lights On’ event. They went on to sing at the Christingle Service on December 4th. On Sunday 11th, they joined forces with the children at St Mary’s, Wendens Ambo for an afternoon workshop, which in turn led to their Christingle service. They finished their season by acting and singing in the Nativity Story at St John, Little Walden 17th December.
It’s always good to see the progress that our junior and teenage members are making; five new choral scholars were recently commissioned: Jasmine, Elli, Sophie, Tilly and Emma. It was especially nice to see the Choral Scholars singing at the Christmas Fair! A number of RSCM ribbon awards and surplices were also handed out to a large number of Junior Choir members. My congratulations go to all!
The Brass group played with gusto at the Christmas fair and at the hitherto mentioned Carol Service, and it was great to see such a large band playing at one of my favourite services of the year! That said, the Brass Group are looking to recruit new members so please don’t hesitate to have a chat with Graham Cottam or me if you (or a friend/relative) are interested in popping along for a taster session (or six).
My thanks go to all involved with the music making throughout this period – bravo!
Now time to start planning for 2017…….. and preparing the choir for the devotional offering on Good Friday, which will be the Mozart Requiem, accompanied by an orchestra.
The AGM of St Mary’s Music Association will be at 11.45am on Sunday 5th March in the Parish Rooms.