Our long anticipated Choral Day was a wonderful success today. David first dreamed up the idea based on something similar he had encountered on a visit to a Cathedral. Our version was a bit like an extended Choral Musical Bite as we gave several hours of practice time for the musical participants, though didn't serve tea to people dropping in to listen. The Cathedral version involved several different workshop activities happening in parallel throughout the day, culminating in Evensong. We explored the possibility of doing this and decided that for the numbers we were likely to attract, as well as the complexity of involving 2 or 3 venues across Stony Stratford for different workshops, it made sense to do three consecutive and complimentary workshops leading to Evensong, and all in the same venue. This proved to be a wise decision as the format worked very well.
Dai greeted participants as they arrived and dished out the music. David's friends Ed and Jane Sturmheit and James Wharton agreed to provide a session each. James started the day with some useful basic guidance about sight singing whilst at the same time throwing everyone in at the deep end with a choral arrangement of 'If with all your Hearts' from Mendelssohn's Elijah, a piece normally performed by a soloist (Dave K provided piano accompaniment for James's session). Then Kath, Fiona, Nina and Jean served home made soup and rolls for lunch to everyone in the Parish Hall in record time before Ed's turn to lead the Choral day. Ed gave everyone a list of vocal exercises, whilst teaching 'Beati quorum via' by Stanford and 'Ave maris stella' by Grieg. Some of the vocal exercises included actions and were very funny. A tea and cake break followed for thirsty and hungry singers. Jane lead the final session of the day, in which she explained and demonstrated the singing reasons for watching the conductor (better vocal sound) and concentrated mainly on perfecting 'Bogoroditsye Dyevo' (Ave Maria) by Rachmaninov, though also used Stopford's 'If ye love me' and Mendelssohn's 'Verleih uns Frieden' for sight-singing practice. James gave everyone a lightning dash through the Evensong responses.
The Choral day concluded with Evensong lead by Fr Ross. The introit was 'If with all your Hearts' and the anthem was 'Bogoroditsye Dyevo'. Several people came to the service to swell the ranks of about 60 singers and the organ team in the congregation, with the singers remaining in the Nave where they had spent the day.
After James played the voluntary on the organ at the end of the service we presented gifts to Ed, Jane and James in grateful thanks for their musical leadership and made a special thank you presentation to James for all the many years of music making in Milton Keynes as he prepares to leave the area. A collection for James means that along with a bottle of bubbly, we are dedicating a Corno di Bassetto pipe in the organ to him in recognition of his immense local musical contribution.
I would like to thank all the organ fund team for working truly as a team for this event - everyone did their bit really well which meant the day went smoothly and was more enjoyable for both singers and organ team as a result. The total raised at this event is £500.