I mentioned yesterday that my new Twelve Of the Best: Lullabies video catalogue needed a blog to elaborate upon the songs somewhat and provide links to fuller recordings and scores etc….well, I’ve done it!
Back in May and June when I wasn’t blogging I was asked by the New Zealand Choral Federation to be the adjudicator of the annual Secondary Students’ Composition Competition. Today my winner got to hear (and indeed sing in) her own piece as it was performed at the Grand Finale concert of The Big Sing in Dunedin by Choralation from Westlake Girls and Boys’ High Schools. She is Wei Qi Lim and her piece is The Vast Hour, and it is a stunningly beautiful piece. You see, I also got to hear it as the concert was live-streamed from New Zealand. I have also had pieces sung by this stunning choir in the past and it is quite a thrill, I can tell you.
Yesterday morning I wrote, “Good morning from Northumberland and also from New Zealand as it turns out. Up popped the live feed from The Big Sing in my beloved Dunedin and the first choir in session 5, St. Cecilia Singers from Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland, with Rachel Sutherland directing, was singing my Hodie Christus Natus Est. Here’s a screenshot of them having just finished a very elegant performance indeed. Wheeeeh! What a wonderful start to my day!”
I’ve been learning lots of new skills and techniques these last two days in order to make some new video catalogues of my songs. I’m calling my new campaign “Twelve Of the Best”, and the first one is Lullabies. Here it is:
It needs a blog to go with it with more explanations, links and details, but there’s only so much time between these entries to get things done!
I was asked for some flyers for our upcoming concerts in Cumbria. Here’s what I wrote for them: “The Bridge Singers is an adventurous choir based in the villages of Felton and West Thirston in Northumberland. These villages are divided by the River Coquet and are joined by two bridges. We’ve been going for 4 years, and we’re adventurous because we like to sing in a wide range of musical styles and we’re not afraid to tackle tricky pieces, both old and new, and we make an excellent job of them! In the last year or so we have been invited to sing at four weddings, the 150th birthday of a historic organ, a memorial concert for a member of the choir, fundraising concerts in other local villages, an Ascension Day service, and have organized for ourselves a WW1 Remembrance recital, a recital in Brinkburn Priory, and a three-concerts-in-a-day bus tour around Northumberland (Whittingham, Alnwick and Felton). We have given world premieres of several new pieces by local composers Gary Steward and Cheryl Camm, and we will perform a brand new song by Cheryl in our Lanercost recital, which is inspired by the memorial to Elizabeth Dacre Howard in the Priory ruins.”
I made a new video for my old song, I’m A Plant. The recording was already there from a while ago, but not the images and captions. I tried out a new technique for the lyrics and slides, but still used some of my photos (including a couple of yesterday’s cactus ones) to illustrate. There are verses about oak trees, carrots, sunflowers as well as the cactus.
Choir started back up again this evening…The Bridge Singers, that is. We started learning Lullaby Of Silences in readiness for our Autumn concerts. A lot were missing as it was a Bank Holiday and also the A1 was closed due to an accident that required the Air Ambulance, and many other routes were congested. Still, it is glorious to be back. I went next door to take pictures of Pat’s cactus plants…see why tomorrow!
Album: Things That Seem Better When The Sun’s Out
Yesterday we went to the big city with a list of shopping and possible activities. The sun was out and it was hot. I took my camera and we noticed things.
42, 000 views today on my YouTube Channel, seapieparcel. Have a listen – there’s music there for all tastes!
I’ve been making a backing track for the song “Be An Agent For Change”, and writing a Song Stories blog about it. I’ve also sung at a wedding with Rock Festival Choir, and done more gardening. Have a read of my new blog here!
More gardening. Lots of Christmas planning for choir ahead of a meeting this evening about a possible joint venture with a new wind band that’s being set up hereabouts. Rock Festival Choir are singing this one again in their Advent concert, I hear> News today that Connie the chocolate labrador was listening to this recording and enjoying it (!)
Up completing musicky admin tasks and then out delivering those early doors meant that I could take in the sunrise along Mouldshaugh Lane.
Windy conditions meant that being out in the garden was also a good option as it keeps the flies and wasps off me, so more tree dismantling and I pulled up a carrot to go with a haggis and sweet potato quiche. The carrot was a whopper. I plucked a pod of broad beans to see if they were ready – they tasted delicious, but can be left a little longer, I think.
Started Christmas planning for choir with a bit of ding dong merrily-ing, which made me feel very chipper!
We travelled back from Edinburgh today by train and bus, taking touristy photographs as we went, then after pie and clothes washing, plonked ourselves in front of the telly to recover. Meanwhile, royalties from performances of my music in New Zealand were being paid into my bank account, which is always nice to hear about. The most lucrative piece in this last quarter has been Autumn Sea. I don’t know who’s performed it over there, but I’m very grateful and pleased. Also performed were The Swing and Hodie Christus Natus Est (both on TV, apparently) and also Motu Puketutu. I still get my approximately 40 Australian cents every quarter for the use of Rain somewhere on an Australian website! I guess over time these 40 cents’-worth add up! I forgot to mention last week that I also got royalties of score sales in New Zealand – it’s so pleasing to know that my music is still being purchased and performed over there even though I’m here in Northumberland, so very far out of sight and probably out of most people’s minds.
A second full day in Edinburgh and not too busy in preparation for our second sing at the Fringe. Lots of walking, mind, some unexpected. We had a bigger audience at Greyfriars Kirk including family, and also friends from The Bridge Singers. I sang a B two beats before I should have done in my least favourite piece, resolving a suspension before all the other altos, but that was the only thing I can think of that I got wrong, so that’s not too shabby. Jamie was once again splendid in the Biebl. I really do think that we may well be Biebling in The Bridge Singers before too long. We finished the day with a delicious family meal at Pomegranate’s Moroccan restaurant, doing the sharing thing with 11 different dishes – all delicious. Here’s our Rock Festival Choir Inspiration Machine video with the official Edinburgh Fringe logo!
Woke up in Edinburgh today and went off to the National Gallery with Gaynor and Jamie to see the Bridget Riley exhibition, which was absolutely brilliant. So clever. Then we sang with Rock Festival Choir at the first of our two concerts, this one in Canongate Kirk. It went exceedingly well, Peter was happy and Jamie almost had me in tears during the Biebl Ave Maria what with him singing so gorgeously on the top solo part, but I managed to keep myself singing as it happened. Then off we went to the choir meal at Howies, which was delicious in every way, then a walk home through torrential rain, which started as we left the restaurant and ended as we arrived at the flat! Choir uniform trousers currently draped everywhere attempting to dry before tomorrow’s concert. I do like the invigorating rain, though, so all in all a grand day.
We’ve come to Edinburgh to sing with Rock Festival Choir at the Fringe, first class on the train as it happened. Nice sandwiches. We had a wander round Greyfriar’s Kirkyard and saw the flags up at the castle waving for us. Then we attended a string orchestra concert at Old St. Paul’s. It was the Russian String Orchestra and they’re brilliant. They played some Liszt though. Luckily there was this amazing rood screen to gaze at while I endured that. The pianist was superb, but Liszt has too many notes for my taste and is a little overblown with showy-off-ness. Meanwhile we managed to do some practice for our Rock Festival Choir concerts on Friday and Saturday.
New video. New Blog. Have a read and a listen click here: Song Stories: Lullaby Of Silences
One of today’s tasks was to make some redcurrant jelly following the kind gift of a punnet of these from some friends. I carefully followed a recipe and made the attached mess in the kitchen. I then proceeded to do some recording for my new lullaby, and make more Rock Festival Choir videos as you can see here. Then it was the final rehearsal for Rock Festival Choir before we sing in Edinburgh. The results of my redcurrant jelly-making labours were underwhelming in volume.
Some more video making for Rock Festival Choir today. Here are the fruits of some of my labours! I also went up to the garden after the rains and found it a little bit demoralising what with the weeds and the collapse of more of our boxes. The pile of tree debris is slowly reducing and today there were ripe tomatoes. Wheeeeh!
My musical highlight today was going to see Gary and his friend David play at the Alnwick Music Festival.
We had a Rock Festival Choir rehearsal this morning and into the afternoon. I had been asked by Peter Biggers, our tour manager to produce some teensy videos to help market our performances at the Edinburgh Fringe this coming weekend, so I was busy pfaffing with my machines. In the evening, Gaynor and Colin took us out for a meal at Jasper’s in Amble. Wonderful food, I have to say. I was told by two different people today that they thought I was subdued. They found it hard to believe that the Cheryl they see leaping about in front of classes of children and in front of Bridge Singers is not the one that appears before them when I’m in relaxed mode. I really am not an exuberant person in real life. Here’s a teensy snippet of us all at today’s rehearsal. If you want another hour of this sort of lovely choiry thing, snaffle yourselves some tickets and come north to Edinburgh on Friday or Saturday!
There has been a lot of rain and thunder today. I have kept my eye on the river which usually flows along so sweetly, but tonight the bubbling stream outside has a flood alert on it. It’s raging along in a brownish fury, trying to get all the hilly run-off to the sea before the next deluge tomorrow. It’ll be exhausted, poor thing. I shared this song on Facebook and it got a lot of interest. We went to Veronica and Terry’s for the evening in Wooler. Driving home there was much in the way of standing water and even fog and the occasional rain shower to contend with.
I have a list of tasks – mostly administrative and housework, alas. I have been fairly good at getting through them so have allowed myself one fun task….still on the list, mind you. It is to sort out a video from the fairandfunky workshops I did back in March using the performances of my song “Be An Agent For Change”. And here it is:
Today I have been mostly in the garden dealing with the tree that was felled last Monday and is now in a heap in what used to be the red bed. I am slowly but surely transforming it into distinct piles: leaves on the compost heaps; small twigs for a potential bonfire; larger twig-branches for kindling; and huge logs for our wood burner. Also today came news that of our eight basses in The Bridge Singers, only three are doing the Autumn concerts, so my mind is busy with musical solutions to that particular dilemma. I guess many directors of village choirs would be happy with three basses, so I shall too. In my blogging absence, I made this July video of our 2018-19 exploits. I’d hate for you to miss out so here it is!
I organised a choiry singalong thingamy this evening. It was at our usual rehearsal time in our usual place, but because The Bridge Singers is on its summer break I opened it up to other singers – from Alison’s drop-in sessions and MadriGals, from The Cheviot Singers, from Lionheart Harmony, from Rock Festival Choir, and amazingly 37 people turned up from a mixture of all of these groups. It was an absolute privilege to spend a couple of hours with them and we sang through one verse of Tarakihi, one verse and three choruses of Lullaby Of Silences and most of California Dreamin’. My highlights of the evening was hearing my new piece sung by other people, not just me, and also a compliment I received from young Joseph (12) who was here with his lovely Mum and Dad and sister, who told me quite categorically that he had not wanted to some along, but had had two hours of singing fun – he used other words, but I can’t remember and I don’t want to misquote. His mother later sent word that I am “officially cool”!
Today I’ve been preparing this song for The Bridge Singers. There are many very clever arrangements out there of it, and I do like almost all of them, but there’s something about the simplicity and exuberance of the original Mamas and Papas’ version that I prefer, so we’ll be going for that. Here’s a cool 60’s “live” performance.
This runner bean slicer adorns the new kitchen on the shelves, just sitting there looking quaint and rather beautiful and also green. People have commented on the delight of it sitting there attached to our shelves. It belonged to my Mum, and I remember my Grandma using it, but apparently originally belonged to my Great-Grandma – other things too have come from them. Today I picked beans from the garden and thought I’d give it a go like I used to when I was a lass. It works. Beans go everywhere, but it works!
I’ve been making an arrangement of this Maori song for my choir The Bridge Singers on and off today. In between I’ve been up in the garden breaking up a tree that currently lies in a big heap over a huge area. I’m redistributing it into leaves, twigs, small branches, large branches. Much fun.
I haven’t written any blogs since March. There are several reasons for this. I’ve been busy. I’ve been uninspired. I’ve been wondering whether it’s worth the effort. WordPress has changed the layout and I couldn’t be bothered learning the new way of doing it. I still can’t fathom it properly, but it says “just type” so I am. I have a bit of new music to share, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to add it. It’s the last verse of my new lullaby for The Bridge Singers and is inspired by a statue of a baby in Lanercost Priory where we’ll be singing in October. Right…
So I will write a lullaby
And in the silences await your cry,
And as I listen deeply within my memories
In the aching hush, I’ll hum myself to sleep.
The year moves on, I see a baby in a pram.
She rushes by, and leaves me silent.
I hear your chuckling in the opening of the daffodil,
And I smile at the thought of you.
The sun is warm, the rain is glistening on the ground.
The families leave me in the silence.
I hear your snuffling in the shimmer of the rainbow,
And I rejoice at the thought of you.
Each healthy glow on a baby’s rosy cheeks
Nips at my heart, renders me silent.
I hear your sighing in the curling of the leaves,
And I weep at the thought of you.
Stony fingers resting gently by her side
I touch her hand, but she is silent.
I hear your whimpering in the falling of the snowflakes
And I tremble at the thought you.