Music News May 2021
The choir was delighted to welcome a new chorister for the first part of our weekly practice on 12 March. Jeremy Trew admitted to having enjoyed life as a treble a ‘few’ years ago, and joined in enthusiastically with the warm ups for both the Junior and the Adult rehearsals, but understandably is unable to commit to singing full time with either group.
During Lent live music has been provided in services by Oli King and Jeremy Allen on the organ, and by soloists and small family groups singing together. This included four of the services in Holy Week. The choir has also contributed to a livestreamed service of Compline on Maundy Thursday, led once again by Marisa Baltrock.
There have been two full choir recordings. For Palm Sunday the motet was Noel Rawsthorne’s ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, based on Matthew 21:9. For Easter Day we sang the well known hymn ‘This Joyful Eastertide’. Perhaps less well-known is that the music is based on a 17th century Dutch song, arranged by Charles Wood with text by George Woodward.
Instead of the usual Good Friday Devotional Offering the choir put together a series of Daily Reflections of Words and Music for each day from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. (Each day has its individual link from the church website: www.stmaryssaffronwalden.org/easter. The series features daily readings from ‘Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Christian Year’ by local-ish poet, singer-songwriter, Anglican priest and academic, Malcolm Guite, and a range of organ music played while a devotional painting is displayed on screen.
After a year of virtual meetings and cancelled real life events, it is good to report that consideration is now being given to offering a new organ scholarship in September. More prosaically, the SMMA accounts have been reviewed after a very quiet year financially, and the virtual AGM will take place at 7.30 pm on Friday 30 April. A Zoom link will be posted on the website shortly.
Two members of the Committee have stepped down this year. Karen Goddard joined the Committee four years ago, and has kept the Minutes and organised meetings as Secretary to the Association for the past three years. She will be a very hard act to follow, as I am about to find out. Gill Gibson is leaving the Committee after twelve years, but has kindly agreed to retain the role of Wardrobe Mistress, which is particularly demanding when members of the Junior Choir keep growing. No doubt every one of them will need new robes after a year of lockdown.
Although the rules on choirs singing in places of worship have been slightly relaxed under the latest Government guidelines of 26 March, and indeed from Palm Sunday congregations have been allowed to sing in churchyards albeit not inside churches, it is not yet known what further guidelines will be issued. The adult choir are therefore looking forward to receiving their singing masks once the juniors have received theirs. After a full year of rehearsing on Zoom and making smartphone recordings, we are all hoping for more opportunity to make music together in church very soon.
Tribute to Hilary Parry-Jones
We were all saddened to hear of the unexpected death of one of our loyal and much-valued choir members, Hilary Parry-Jones, on 13 March. Hilary was quietly spoken and not one to seek the limelight but, having got to know her better as a result of singing together and enjoying the occasional coffee in Angela Reed’s (in the good old days), I came to appreciate her warm personality and great sense of humour. After Susan Smith relinquished the role of choir librarian, Hilary and Margaret Jacobs took on the job together and they both did a brilliant job keeping all the music in order. Hilary was always keen to join the regular choir social gatherings and it is ironic and poignant that she died exactly a year to the day after the last gathering we were able to enjoy together on 13 March 2020, to celebrate a few choir members’ birthdays, just before the first lockdown. Hilary will be greatly missed, by us all in the choir and by the wider community, especially her family - her daughter Julia and her son Stephen, his wife and her two young grandsons - all of whom she loved spending time with. At choir practice on the last two Fridays before Holy Week, we sang two motets whilst holding Hilary in our thoughts and prayers - Brahms ‘How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings’ and a chorale from Bach's St Matthew Passion ‘O Sacred Head Surrounded’.