Music News – October 2018
Posted on October 1, 2018 (Edit)
August is usually a quiet month for the St Mary’s music groups while everyone takes a well earned summer break. As a final flourish at the end of the academic year, Oli King and Martin Huggett gave a superb concert of piano duets on 4 August which drew a good audience and raised money to underwrite the Devotional Offering planned for remembrance Sunday this year. On a more sombre note, members of the senior choir participated in the moving service to commemorate the life of Bishop Derek Bond on 15th August, where we sang some of his favourite hymns and the anthem Thou Knowest, Lord by Henry Purcell. Bishop Derek had also chosen several pieces of music which Oli played before and after the service.
September sees all sections of the choir, the Brass Group and Joyful Noise starting rehearsals again, which is just as well, since there are lots of events in the month. Our Patronal Festival was on 9th September, and we looked forward to the wedding of Nell Bacon and Tim Hardingham on 15th September, followed by the Ordination Service on 29th September when Rachel Prior, our curate, and John Saxon, from Debden, will be ordained. Meanwhile the Choral Scholars will be providing entertainment for their families and the adult choir on 21st September.
As a newcomer to the choir in Autumn 2017, I have been enormously impressed with the professionalism, discipline and enthusiasm shown by everyone from the youngest members of the Junior Choir to the Musical Director. With a full complement of 70 people (20 Juniors, 15 Choral Scholars and 35 adults), there is a lot to organise. While the roles of the organist and the Director are relatively obvious, I had not realised that the choir would have a wardrobe mistress, 2 music librarians and sufficient “responsible adults” to support the juniors, all of whom are essential to the smooth running of the services. The choir may look as serene as swans as they sing in the services, but there is a lot of vigorous underwater paddling to achieve this result.
I spent my first few weeks struggling with processing (hard for someone with no sense of direction), wearing robes correctly, and above all finding the right piece of music at the right time from a huge bag containing at least 4 books (1 psalm and 3 anthems), plus numerous sets of sheet music. The actual singing was relatively uncomplicated by comparison, albeit often challenging. Luckily there is always someone on hand to provide support. The weekly Friday night rehearsals are a friendly and educational experience, always hard work, but giving a great sense of satisfaction when a new anthem is mastered or a familiar piece of music polished to a higher standard.
The SMMA is delighted to announce that following an audition and interview towards the end of July, Elliot Randall has been appointed as the first holder of the Michael Swindlehurst Organ Scholarship for this coming year. The Rector introduced Elliot to the congregation during the morning service on 2nd September. Although Elliot will mostly be based here in Saffron Walden, once a month he will also be working at St Mary’s Wendens Ambo.
At the end of July, the Rector thanked Susie Beare for her time as a Choral Scholar. Before taking up her place at University, Susie will be now be singing as a member of the adult choir.