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A few little things


Martin Cooke
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I thought I would share a few recent experiences. Closest to my memory... yesterday's stunningly beautiful Advent service from St John's... and, somehow, all the more stunning when you realise that Andrew Nethsingha was hors de combat having tested positive two days previously! George Herbert, organ scholar, is thus in charge and Joseph Wicks returns to play. And... only ten of the 16 boys are well enough to sing! What a wonderful 'rising to the occasion' this is, though. A beautifully conceived service - as, of course, it always is from St John's - and an especially tantalising selection of carols this year. Lovely to hear the Gardner again, but if you listen for nothing else try to catch the super new carol by Cheryl Frances Hoad - such an exciting piece for choir and harp - a real highlight. Christopher Robinson's descant for Veni Emmanuel is another. There is much more to it than that - don't miss it.

Have you caught up with the new carols CD just released by King's? It's called In the bleak mid-winter. Just when anyone of three score years or so might (unreasonably) think they don't need another King's carol CD along comes this sublime collection. Here, for, there are any number of highlights. Refreshing to go back to the original Vaughan Williams Sussex Carol - I can't quite think where to find the music for that. The Hill and Robinson descants for O come, all ye faithful leave me reeling upon each and every hearing. But what draws me back time and again is the Mack Wilberg In the bleak. Goodness me, this is lovely!

One of the huge plusses of Covid - well, possibly the only plus - (unless you include the abandonment of school parents' evenings in favour of zoom arrangements) - is the chance to whizz around the country watching some services. I have focussed on York, Truro, Canterbury and Winchester - the last of these, largely because Claudia Grinnell plays really interesting and unusual voluntaries. Any or all of the services from these places are worth watching and with Cornwall being the place of my birth, I can't help loving Truro the most. And the music there is glorious as I am sure many forumites know. They have just released a new Christmas CD which I am going to to get into today.

New organ music? It's been around for a year or two now, but Matthew Owens' Toccata on Good King Wenceslas is great fun. He recorded it at Wells and now again in Belfast - it's in a Christmas manuals only album by OUP - (with a lot of other things I have struggled, so far, to find useful). In the last week or so, Church Organ World have published an album called Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. There are two or three highlights in this for me, and none is difficult. Forumite Stephen Barber's Away in a Manger is one. Meanwhile, Ian Tracey's Improvisation on a Herefordshire Carol (Truth from above) made a very atmospheric 'final' pre-service voluntary for our own Advent carol service. It's written in homage to Vaughan Williams and captures that mood delightfully. And I am enjoying Daniel Bishop's In the bleak improvisation. And if you don't know his lovely Reflection in Church Organ World's Liverpool Lollipops album (along with the Tracey Aria) you might want to get the album on your Christmas present list. 

I wonder how many organists snuk in a reference to Stephen Sondheim yesterday. I couldn't resist Somewhere at the tail end of the Communion and it definitely hit a spot. I can't forget its inclusion in the St Paul's Grenfell Tower memorial service - a spot of genius... the choice and the music!

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I am in full concordance with all your comments .

The Advent from SJ`s was truly superb;     I managed to    record it onto cassette  ( yes, that`s right, CASSETTE !! )   for future enjoyment.

The YT offerings have been varied and magnificent.  As you said, the performance from Truro was outstanding.

Myself, and Mrs Adnosad enjoy nothing more than further cultivating the pleasure of settling down in front of the pc connected to large tv and enjoying the wonderful presentations which a lot of artists have worked very hard at during these difficult times we are in.

These events are further enhanced by our relishing vin blanc and salmon and cucumber butties as an accompaniment :)

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It looked as if Canterbury too was affected- the back row and David Newsholme were absent from their Advent service after several positive cases, so the service was very well sung by the Boys’ & Girls’ choirs directed by Adrian Bawtree and the ATB parts provided by discreet organ accompaniment, as I surmise the service booklets had already been printed so music couldn’t be changed. Ely choirs were also conducted by the Assistant DoM - not sure why but I’m guessing COVID has had led to Plan B being enacted at quite short notice in a few establishments. 
in addition to the Advent services above, YT has services from Trinity & Clare Colleges, Cambridge, Christ Church, Merton College and New College Oxford, and I also located Gloucester, Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, Chichester, St Albans and Norwich, plus probably quite a few others, probably enough for a different one each day of Advent. Fully agreed the webcasting is a great development! 

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4 hours ago, Arp Schnitger said:


YT has services from Trinity & Clare Colleges, Cambridge, Christ Church, Merton College and New College Oxford, and I also located Gloucester, Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum, Chichester, St Albans and Norwich, plus probably quite a few others, probably enough for a different one each day of Advent. Fully agreed the webcasting is a great development! 

Thanks very much for all those pointers.

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