New Year Bring & Sing
with Clive Simmonds at Howgills
Sunday 13th January 2002
Duruflé - Requiem
Fletcher - Ring Out Wild Bells
"Doing" Duruflé in 4 hours was always going to be an adventurous project and so it was decided at the start of the afternoon to dispense with Fletcher's Ring out Wild Bells so we could concentrate on the Requiem.
Approximately two dozen females were more or less evenly split on the Soprano and Alto front, with the male section of the choir somewhat "under strength" there being only one bass with two male and two female tenors.
Whilst some people had a good knowledge of the work, others had either never heard it, or never sung it, or, like myself, both!
Our conductor, Clive Simmonds, made it clear very early on that there would not be much opportunity for 'note-bashing' and so we were led through the piece on a "sing it even if it's wrong for the time being" basis.
I for one, certainly found the work to be challenging (read "difficult") but the more one sung each part throughout the afternoon, the more acquainted with it one became, and thus able to appreciate the 'tunes' - something often missed the first few times around when learning a piece. Unfortunately, the only scores available for hiring were ones which did not reproduce the organ part which made for difficulties when trying to find the opening notes on several of the entries.
Clive took us through the work with enthusiasm and encouragement even when things went astray, which inevitably they did from time to time, which was only to be expected with such a work.
We were joined after the break by soprano and baritone soloists - unfortunately I never got their names - and eventually did a performance of the piece at around 5.30pm.
The performance went surprisingly well, and although not perfect, was a significant improvement on three hours earlier. It was encouraging to know we could learn so much in such a short time.
All in all a very challenging afternoon, but none the less enjoyable for that. I like to think that you don't learn if you're not challenged and on that basis I learned quite a lot.
Accompanist was Kate Elmitt