Singing in the Cathedral

I have been singing with the local choral society.  I joined back in October and have sung in 2 concerts with them, with another coming up in about 3 weeks.  They are a lovely group of people and I have made several friends in the soprano section.  It is a very diverse mix of talents and voices but all love singing great music, so what they might lack in professional expertise, they make up for with enthusiasm.  I thought I would have to eat some major humble pie and sort of suffer through, coming from a solo career and now singing in a community chorus. But surprisingly, it has been quite the opposite.  I have very pleasantly been reminded of my love for music and singing after some much-needed time away from it.  I have enjoyed singing with this group for the pure joy of singing, sight-reading, and learning new music.  I am grateful for that.

The group is conducted by the Organist and Master of Choirs at the Canterbury Cathedral:  David Flood.  I actually knew about this guy before I came here as he sometimes comes to Tacoma to do workshops and exchanges with a youth chorus in the area, and my optometrist, of all people, knew him and told me I must seek him out when I get to Canterbury.  It really is a small world…

I have enjoyed working with David Flood, and when an opportunity arose to sing in a concert at the cathedral, I was the first to volunteer.  He needed to assemble a large choir with local choristers for the oratorio “The Crucifixion” by John Stainer.  It is quite a popular piece here, with many congregational hymns throughout the work.  There are some big and dramatic moments and some quiet, a cappella moments, and in the cathedral, with an orchestra and a big organ, it is affective.  Musically, I wouldn’t say it’s the most brilliant piece…but apparently it was a mission of Stainer’s to make his music accessible to the average person, and that, it certainly is.

I got to sing this piece in the big assembled choir (together with the Canterbury Cathedral Choir) in the cathedral, with the BBC Concert Orchestra.  The concert was recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Good Friday (April 6 at 8pm GMT).  It was a wonderful and remarkable experience and one that I will never forget.

Here are photos from our rehearsal two days before the concert:

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The staging (much like bleachers!) for the choirs was very tall!  I was sitting halfway up and had the most amazing view down the nave of this immense historic space.  I just kept looking up in awe and thinking “how the heck did I get to do this???”.

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On the day of the concert, I snapped a quick shot from my seat on the staging…here was my view:

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I sat next to my friend, Pat.

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The steps to get up onto the staging

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This was the line of people waiting to get in to the concert.

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My friends, Pat and Carol, before the concert (in the crypt).

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The view from the audience (the people in purple robes were the Cathedral Choir and Lay Clerks).

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If you’re interested, you can hear the broadcast of the concert on BBC Radio 2 at 8pm GMT on Good Friday (April 6).  Highlights of the concert:  Barber’s Adagio for Strings, In paradisum from Fauré’s Requiem, and The Reproaches by John Sanders, sung by the Cathedral Choir.  Also, the soloists for the Crucifixion were great, in particular the tenor, who is one of the Lay Clerks.  I don’t know how much of the drama of the space really translates to radio, but it was quite an evening for me and for Brad, who was lucky enough to be in the audience.  Many thanks to Emilie, who babysat the kids so that we could do this!!!

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