Music News - February 2023

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Click here to see photos of our Carol Service rehearsal

This year the SMMA bought a set of 75 new anthem books, Advent for Choirs. Oli King estimated that these would pay for themselves once the choir had performed 7 new pieces from it. The books have already proved a rich resource during 2022, and we shall probably reach the target number of anthems easily by Christmas 2023.

The traditional movement “from darkness into light” during the Advent Carol Service on 27 November was as ever an uplifting reminder that the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. The music matched this trajectory, modulating from the Advent prose, through harking to the herald voice calling, to the triumphant Lo! He comes with clouds descending, and closing with Fela Sowande’s organ solo Obangiji (Almighty God).

The service of Nine Lessons and Carols on 18 December was of course a much livelier affair, not least because of the many contributions of the Brass Group, and the presence of the Junior Choir. Everyone who attended, whether congregation, choir or musicians, was to be congratulated on overcoming the rain and ice which followed a week of frozen snow. It would
have been the perfect occasion for singing In the Bleak Midwinter, but instead there was a rousing rendition of Good King Wenceslas, as everyone present cast themselves in the roles of king and/or peasant. The Brass Group rounded off the service in fine style with Awake the Trumpet’s Lofty Sound from Handel’s Samson.

At the post service party for the choir and musicians, where we attempted to warm up with hot mince pies and mulled wine, Hannah Razzell as Chair of the SMMA thanked everyone who had helped the organisation in the past year, including Bron Ferland as Choir Administrator, Lizzie Bennett who runs Joyful Noise for the very littlest singers, Alison Lawrence who looks after the Junior Choir’s social time during Friday choir practices and other events, Yechan our Michael Swindlehurst Organ Scholar, Gill and Paul for the party, Jeremy Allen as Assistant Organist, and of course Oli King as Director of Music.

The Junior Choir (with a little help from their friends) led the singing at one of the two Tree Services on Christmas Eve, the other being supported by a small group. In turn the Adult Choir (some fortified by a late evening party kindly hosted by Jim and Yvonne) sang at Midnight Mass. And of course then there was the joyful and well-attended Christmas Day service itself. We were delighted that so many former Choral Scholars returned to participate in these services. After all this, the choir, director of music and organists will have taken a well-earned 2 week rehearsal break.

Meanwhile we are very pleased to report that Angus, one of the younger members of the Junior Choir, has been accepted into one of the National Youth Choirs.

Looking forward from the date of writing this Newsletter, or backward from the date of reading it, there will be Choral Evensong at 4pm on Sunday 8 January, and the Epiphany Carol Service at 6.30pm on Sunday 29 January. February Choral Evensong will be at 4 pm on Sunday 12th February.

And finally, the SMMA’s AGM will be held in the Parish Rooms at around noon after the 10.30 service on Sunday 12 March. Everyone is very welcome to attend.

Ottilie Lefever