Music News - February 2022

Img 3454-800A lot has happened in the life of the SMMA since the previous Newsletter was written in the first week of November. It was a great pleasure that all the music took place with both choir and congregation, and indeed brass instrumentation, in contrast to the scaled back lockdown events of 2020.

The Remembrance Service on 14 November was very well attended. The choir sang the motets ‘Peace White Dove’ by Dolinski, and ‘Anthem for the Fallen’ by Irving. Emma from the Brass Group provided the signature trumpet accompaniment. It was followed in the evening by Compline with specially appropriate words and music.

Last year all carol services were undertaken by (very) socially distanced members of the choir spread through the whole nave, and without a physically present congregation. This year the Advent Carol Service on 28 November returned almost to pre-Covid normality, with the congregation in darkness punctuated by candlelight for almost the whole of the service till the light dawned in the final hymn. Special mentions are due for organ scholar Yechen for his stirring performance of Howells’ ‘Collegium Regale Magnificat’, and for choral scholar George’s tenor solo in Gibbons’ ‘This is the Record of John’.

The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols on 19 December was the first occasion on which the full Junior and Senior choirs have combined since March 2020. Some of the newest members became so excited during rehearsals that Oli was obliged to channel Joyce Grenfell (apologies to younger readers)! Eleanor Game’s ethereal solo in the first verse of ‘Once In Royal David’s City’ began the well-loved, well-remembered service. In contrast, the choir sang 2 new (to us) carols, ‘A Maiden Most Gentle’ by Mary Richardson and ‘O Holy Night’, arranged by Rutter. The congregation, though masked, sang with enthusiasm, especially during the arrangement of ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’, to the tune of ‘On Ilkley Moor Bar T’at’. I am indebted to the compiler of the service sheet for the information that in the eighteenth century local musicians, placed in the West Gallery, often accompanied hymns to traditional folk tunes. Although the brass contingent was a little smaller than planned, 2 doughty trumpet players joined in many descants and a stirring rendition of Johnson’s ‘Trumpet Tune’ at the end of the service.

On Christmas Eve there were 2 services for Lighting the Christmas Tree, with some senior choir members supporting the younger singers.

The SMMA is delighted to report that Joyful Noise, the group for our youngest musicians, successfully re-started in the autumn, with sessions covering an eclectic mix of songs on the themes of fireworks and light, the Gunpowder Plot, Diwali, Remembrance Day, Advent and Christmas. There are some budding soloists in the group, and new members (school years 1 - 3) are always welcome, as they are in the Junior Choir (age 7½ - 13). Please contact for more information.

The Epiphany Service is planned for Sunday 23 January.

Ottilie Lefever