St Mary’s Music News - April 2023

Jun Choir Ely tripaThere are some months when submission of copy on the first Sunday of month A for publication 3 to 4 weeks later in month B does not cause too much of a problem for the writer or the reader. March/April is not one of them. It is always a particularly busy time for the SMMA, both on the choral side supporting Lenten and Easter worship, and administratively, with its annual AGM, so inevitably much happens during March after copy is due in but well before publication. This Newsletter therefore refers to many events retrospectively, but cannot report on what actually happened. This does, however, make for a comparatively easy time for the May report!

One very lively event has already taken place though – the annual outing for the Junior choir, organised by Alison Lawrence with a doughty band of responsible adults. This year they visited Ely, first stop the fascinating Stained Glass Museum containing a collection of glass from 1200 up to the present. “Theophilus the monk” taught the Juniors how to make stained glass, and they then designed their own creations onto acrylic squares.

After a refreshment break the Juniors attended Choral Evensong, sung by the Girl Choristers. This group was set up in 2006, a mere 11 centuries or so after the Boys’ Choir School was founded, but since 2022 both choirs have sung equal numbers of services each week. Alison collected many appreciative comments about the Museum and the Girls’ Choir, but the most unusual reflection on the Cathedral itself was “I loved noticing there were 27 dead people under my feet”!

Back at St Mary’s, the full choir has of course been supporting worship during Lent, starting with Choral Eucharist with Ashes on Ash Wednesday. By the time you read this newsletter, it will also have led the singing at Choral Evensong on Palm Sunday, at Choral Eucharist on Maundy Thursday, and will have performed a Devotional Offering of Bob Chilcott’s St John Passion on Good Friday. The choir first sang this Passion in 2019, ably supported by the congregation who had been learning the communal hymns during Lent, as is also happening this year. Rehearsals in preparation for reprising this beautiful piece were underway for Easter 2020, but were – like so many other plans – derailed by Covid. Singing it again this year is therefore particularly poignant.

Reports of important elections and other decisions taken at the SMMA’s AGM on 12 March will follow in the next Newsletter.
Meanwhile, we hope that many readers will have enjoyed the SMMA’s new venture of 3 short Wednesday morning coffee concerts during March.

Finally, the choir said a (we hope temporary) farewell to Noah, who leaves after more than 9 years in various stages of music making at St Mary’s, starting with Joyful Noise, progressing to the Junior Choir, and most recently singing as a tenor Choral Scholar.

Ottilie Lefever