Consolidating November 2019

November 30th

Lionheart Harmony sang in Bailiffgate Museum today – 45 minutes or so of a mixture of festive and our usual stuff – small but appreciative audience and wonderful acoustics. We performed In The Bleak Midwinter amongst other things – one of the audience members muttered “gorgeous” afterwards. We sang in the schoolroom, which is set up in Victorian style. I noticed that the world map on the wall had New Zealand with only Auckland and Dunedin mentioned by name – a map from 1886. This set me and Jamie off chatting happily about New Zealand!

November 29th

We finished the day at a rehearsal for Rock Festival Choir – a merry event. Here’s a snippet from it:

Tomorrow shall indeed be our dancing day (concert 3pm, St. Paul’s Alnwick), and yesterday was our last rehearsal day. Here are a few shots of the people who were not on the photos used thus far in our selection of snippets: Caroline and organist Alan in the back row of the mixed formation; Jane (pictured here with her smiling Alto 2 colleagues); and organist Peter with MD Peter, sharing a post-“Tomorrow” chortle no doubt over the hilarious tempi we all witnessed last night!

Earlier I gathered all my “Twelve of The Best”s together in a handy list: Twelve Of The Best: Summary

November 28th

Today has been a grand day – I happily finished my new video catalogue, which irked me greatly yesterday evening with its troublesomeness and un-finished-ness and led to a fitful sleep, and most thrilling of all, this morning as we prepared our breakfast, the toaster broke. This toaster is my least favourite thing in the kitchen – many of you have commented on its pinkness and failure to look the part amongst the new décor. I agreed with you all, but also with Jamie, who declared it fit for purpose, and therefore staying put until it no longer did the toasting. Today it did not do the toasting. We grilled our toast and will continue to do so until time permits the procurement of a replacement in this busy season of choral performances and rehearsals.

So here’s my new video and accompanying blog: Twelve Of The Best: Songs For Mixed Voices

My most popular songs for SATB choir!

November 27th

Video making, meetings about cameras and monitors so that organists can see what I’m doing when I’m conducting, more video making. I ended the day a bit fed up because I had hoped that I would finish it by the end of today. I did in fact finish it, but am not happy with it, so I need to revisit it tomorrow. Pah! However, once I’d packed up for the evening, this appeared on the SOUNZ YouTube Channel, and put me back in a cheery mood!

One of several 1-minute tributes to composer John Rimmer for his 80th birthday, composed for the Karlheinz Company’s May 2019 concert by his former students and colleagues.

Also, here’s the next of our Rock Festival Choir snippets promoting Sunday’s concert!

Lucky us with the wonderful composers we have in the choir – you’ve already heard music by Paul and Cheryl in these clips this week, and now it’s the turn of our maestro himself, Peter Brown. We’re singing two of his scrumptiously harmonised settings: Te Deum and The Lord Is My Shepherd. (This clip is the beginning of the latter). Here too is this year’s splendid poster designed by Mick – all the details you need to enjoy our sublime concert on Sunday!

November 26th

My day of animating for my next “Twelve of the Best” video was punctuated by a spot of pizza-making (leftover chicken, avocado, mushroom, carrot and blue cheese – mmm), and also by a visit to Felton Primary School, where I taught Tiny Flickering Flame to the school choir. I have to go back there to teach it to the whole school in December, but it was felt that the choir could lead proceedings and be the rock around which the rest of the school drapes itself, so I went in there to give them a head’s start. It seems that I haven’t lost my knack of winning a group of new children round within two minutes of arriving! They were delightful and grasped the song within half an hour. The ability of children to learn stuff of moderate difficulty with no lyrics or music to read from is astonishingly heartening. And also, another RFC clip:

Our sopranos, like many others I’m sure, love a good descant! Come hear them soaring on Sunday 1st December, 3pm, St. Paul’s Church, Alnwick!

November 25th

Dad’s birthday and so lots of remembering. This helps!

My lovely Dad!

Also tonight we had The Bridge Singers in the church with an accompanist. Oh my such an exhausting rehearsal with huge decisions to be made about seating and the like. It sounds so good though. December 7th 3pm, St. Michael’s, Felton – do come along – there’ll be mince pies and mulled wine. In the meantime, here’s another clip from Rock Festival Choir – it’s all go at this time of year!

Rock Festival Choir Advent 2019 Snippet 2. “We promised you more clips from our rehearsal at the weekend, and we’re as good as our word. Here’s a little bit of lovely Paul’s carol. As well as us singing the alleluias you can hear Alan on the organ. We’re loving his celeste stop! If you want to hear more of Alan and the celeste, (and Rebekah’s solo in the last verse, which is sublime) and give Paul a clap for his wonderful song, you’ll have to come to our concert next Sunday! 3pm at St. Paul’s, Alnwick!”

November 24th

Good morning from Cumbria!

Today I drove to Keswick to spend the day with my sister. We did lots of chatting and had yummy cake and a bit of a wander. That’s all. As I approached my turn-off on the M6, my camera spotted a different Junction 40 to my usual one!

My usual Junction 40. I guess there must be plenty more around the country!

November 23rd

Three big achievements and events today: We had a Rock Festival Choir rehearsal this morning at which my Hodie sounded great; I finished the blog to go with my new Twelve Of The Best video catalogue; We figured out how to use the timer on the oven – it turned on while we were out, and turned off just as we returned, and our chicken roast dinner was ready for us when we got home from choir. Hurrah!

Twelve Of The Best: Songs for High Voices.

A little bit of Rock Festival Choir – it’s my Hodie! “We had a wonderful rehearsal yesterday for our Advent Concert on December 1st. We’ll be posting a few clips over the next few days, so keep checking in for more treats like this! See you all for the concert next Sunday at 3pm in St. Paul’s, Alnwick!”

November 22nd

I finished my new video! Also we had our first Christmassy gig tonight with Lionheart Harmony. We sang three Christmassy things and four non-Christmassy things at an event for Hospicecare Northumberland at Blackshaw’s Motors in Alnwick. One lady won a car there. She was very emotional about it, as you might expect. It was a happy occasion, although very few were listening to us. It was one of those where a handful pay attention, but most are drinking and perusing the nearby gift market for Christmas goodies. Fair enough. We returned our fee in favour of the charity, and went home early! After the car prize draw and the general raffle most people attending had also gone home!

I started my choral composing career with songs for high voices. There are by now way more than twelve of them, and as such this has been the hardest category to narrow down – there may have to be “Twelve More”!

November 21st

Lots of video making, then Lionheart Harmony in the evening and somewhere in the middle of that, the news of the possibility that another choir will be singing my Red. Red Rose at their Burns Supper in January – all makes for a cheery mood!

November 20th

A meeting today about a carol service in Brinkburn in December Brrrrrr! It’ll be magical, I imagine, what with the icicles dripping from our noses. Then ploughing on with the next video and dealing with admin, then Jamie came home from three days working in London.

Part of the herd of curlew!

November 19th

Sea pie

Started the day with news of this trailer video – you can see that I’m on a list! I then spent a very happy several hours at Low Newton with Shirley, Julie and Morar walking in the cold, cold sunshine, chat, chat chatting and spotting birds – lots of sea pie and lots of curlew – indeed, a whole flock of ’em which we all found unusual in our curlew-spotting careers. A herd of curlew, I learn, is the correct term! Then later, another meeting about another request for The Bridge Singers to sing in February and a possible new piece performance opportunity. Also, a local school wants me to go in on a couple of occasions in the next few weeks to help them learn Tiny, Flickering Flame for a performance in December. Quite a day…and on not much sleep either!

I’m on a list!

November 18th

News today that Motu Puketutu will be performed again in New Zealand sometime soon – I was asked for scores of the SATB version, but for SSAA – it turns out I’d already made that version sometime in the past as there it was just sitting on the computer! Choir tonight and an exceedingly exhausting rehearsal for some reason. They’re sounding good – concert’s on 7th December at 3pm in St. Michael’s, Felton. Do come along!

The SATB version of Motu Puketutu with voice percussion.

November 17th

Well, I did think that I’d just about finished that video yesterday, but it took another several hours to iron out some problems I found, but now as you see below the video is finally done and the blog is written and hopefully from now on lots of lovely male voice choirs will learn about my pieces and sing them!

Twelve Of The Best: Songs For Low Voices.

November 16th

There was an extra rehearsal for The Bridge Singers this morning to prepare for our Christmas recital on December 7th. Lots of fun and lots of cake. Also today I just about got to the end of my new video catalogue. Hurrah! It’s been taking forever.

November 15th

Included in today’s activities was Rock Festival Choir – we’re singing my Hodie at the beginning of December so we practised that. I also get to play my tambourine in Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.

November 14th

Today I went to a castle I’ve never been to before on a mission that must remain secret for the time being, but it was a proper castle with a roof and suits of armour and turrets and castellations and secret corridors and biggish staircases. Later, Jamie and I went to The Sage Gateshead to hear Mahler 3, which I don’t think I’ve heard before. An hour and three quarters it was…. without an interval, but the time flew by, I must say. It was the Prague Symphony Orchestra and very entertaining they were too. Highlights for me were:

  • A huge trombone solo played with great tenderness but also goodly volume when required.
  • A very eccentric 1st horn player who made grand gestures at every possible turn, was out of uniform, had his stand at an extraordinary height and played at an extraordinary angle, nodded to his team-mates and across to the trumpeters after particularly fine pieces of solo or ensemble work, and whenever he himself played, it was exquisite, and his horn section of nine as a while were splendid.
  • Lots of woodwind and brass in terms of numbers of players, the amount of prominence Mahler gave them, and the excellence of their playing. On account of the last point there seemed to be less violining, which is good for my taste!
  • Lots of percussion including two timpanists who looked like twins from where we were, and one of whom did stick-twirling with great aplomb.

November 13th

More work on the next Twelve Of The Best. I learned how to make snowflakes fall then disappear, and found it rather mesmerising!

Autumn Snowflakes with some of my Snowstorm music from Musical Sculptures!

November 12th

I’m working on my next blog of course, but also today I had a meeting with a vicar and it looks as though we’re going to be singing Tiny, Flickering Flame at another primary school this year. I’ve updated the Song Story about it too: Song Stories: Tiny, Flickering Flame.

November 11th

I made the blog to go with my new Twelve Of the Best video. You can read it here. Twelve Of The Best: Songs Inspired by Visual Arts . It’s been good to listen to these songs again as for some of them, I’ve only worked with them while that particular art work was on display and then never again. I do feel that several of them could very minutely tweaked to give them a life after the art! They’re all rather good anyway, I feel 🙂

We also had choir practice tonight and tried out the new seating plan. It worked very well as far as the sound went.

November 10th

Remembrance Sunday, I went off to the War Memorial for the village ceremony. I spent the rest of the day making a rather tasty salmon pie and also my new Twelve Of The Best videos. Here it is below!

It has been my delight and privilege to frequently work with visual arts as a composer, most notably in recent years, at the Hepworth Wakefield in “Musical Sculptures” workshops. Art works have inspired composing both by myself and by those attending the workshops. Here are twelve of the best – most performed, most popular, my favourites!
Still Tyne from the High Level Bridge

November 9th

Baltic Flour from the Millenium Bridge

Today we went to Newcastle to see the Joy Labinjo Exhibition at the Baltic and The Aeronauts at the cinema.

Joy Labinjo’s art works are colourful and joyous and so very clever with the blocks of paint that are unrealistic and yet you can tell perfectly well what the expressions and features of the people are. We watched a video of her talking about her work and liked her. She’s like a regular person being creative, but not talking a load of airy fairy nonsense while doing so. I enjoyed it very much, and had a good clomp to the lookout at the top up the stairs, so good for me in more than one way!

The Aeronauts is an entertaining watch too. Jamie thought it was a bit soppy, but he thinks most things are a bit too soppy. His choice, though so no complaining really. The others I fancied were a Miles Davies Documentary and Shaun The Sheep: Farmageddon. Here’s a monster Geordie leaf to prove we were there! Also, the Tyne was incredibly still while we were there and therefore very reflective. Interesting how the reflections of pedestrians are clearer than the pedestrians themselves, we thought.

November 8th

I’ve been busy today…with seating plans, posters, articles, Burns songs, marketing, and I nearly missed this milestone on my Youtube channel: 44,000 views. I do love these round numbers as they pass by. I’ve uploaded quite a lot of new videos in the last month or two, so do have a browse and see what’s new!

I also went down to St. Michael’s to check out the seating for our Christmas concert. While I was there, I had a little sing!

15 seconds is all I can upload onto the website, alas. It’s a teensy bit of Tiny, Flickering Flame in St. Michael’s

November 7th

I’ve been making posters and writing articles for The Bridge Singers today!

November 6th

As you know, this morning I finished off my new Twelve Of The Best video, and then I made the blog to go with it. Here it is! Twelve Of The Best: Songs Of Nature!

November 5th

I spent all day trying to finish off my new video and did almost get the end before bedtime, and then finished it off early tomorrow morning! So here it is. I can now say that I’m over the trembling leaves thing, and may not use that technique again!

It has often fallen happily to my lot to compose songs for children about the natural world: weather, plants and creatures. Here are twelve of the best of them. They are the best because they have been performed the most, listened to the most, been the most useful, have the best tunes!

November 4th

After lunch, I drove back home, gathering up Jamie from Newburn as I went – horrible place with horrible people not helping you find the building you’re after and not enough parking for the huge amount of businesses there. We met up eventually, and then it was choir in the evening. Everyone, including me was worn out, but still we cracked on with new stuff and old stuff, and then we were all more worn out so only five of us up for a drink afterwards. Connor, Lesley-May and Alison made the mistake of asking me what I do in my workshops, so I rabbited on a bit. Poor old Jamie’s heard it all before!

November 3rd

Today I was delivering Musical Sculptures workshops at the Hepworth Wakefield – my last for 2019. It was a bust weekend as a new exhibition has recently opened. I stuck with Gallery 5, though, seeing as I hadn’t seen any of the new art yet, and focussed on Winged Figure. We had lots of eager families through our doors and we produced some imaginative and exhilarating work. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as you can see from these feedback forms.

When I got home, Mum and I stayed up late to welcome Michael back from France. Lovely, lovely brother.

November 2nd

Today we had Rock Festival Choir in the morning, then I drove through copious amounts of rain and spray to Worksop, where Mum and I had delicious roast pork with roast potatoes and stuffing followed by cream horns. I discovered this video of Kantos singing my Cantate Domino on YouTube too – such a very good performance by them.

Cantate Domino by Cheryl Camm!!

November 1st

Today I made a birthday cake for Connor which we all had a helping of at tonight’s Fingers Adrift rehearsal. It was a vegan cake, because Alison was in the company. Alison also brought along her huge contrabass recorder. The recorder sounded very mellow and the cake was tasty. Connor and Alison were both happy, so all was well. I was pleased with the gloop I made to adorn the cake – a chocolate ganache made with coconut milk and also a buttercream made with vegan margarine, and whiskey amongst other things. The carrot required the pulling up of beetroot from the garden. The mice had been at them, and they are fussy about the skins as it turns out. You pull one up and see that it is perfectly round and quite large, and yet it is completely hollow!


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