I went a-leaping on the beach at dawn, I made arrangements of Christmas music for choir, I made a Christmas concert poster, I made a video of my leaping with my jumping song, I went to a committee meeting, I failed to do any more filing cabinet stuff during October, and so, in spite of everything I have achieved, I have not done the thing I set out to do this month. Pah!
Today I’ve mostly been concerned about Christmas repertoire for December – making learning tracks and doing a spot of printing, including this one:
After more chat and merriment and a bit of signing and declaring at Mum’s solicitor’s place, I set off back home on the trains and buses in the sunshine and rain, and got back here in plenty of time for choir. We were practising in the church ready for the concert on Nov 10th. There was pfaff of course because we were in a different place and it’s not as wide as Gallery 45 so the rows can’t be the same, also much “lost music” pfaff, and “can’t see the music” pfaff, and all I can say is that I’m glad this rehearsal was so pfaffy because it means that next week’s will be smooth as can be, right!?
I went to Worksop and there was my brother and mother and then my sister arrived and so we were all there and very merry it was too. December 15th is shaping up to be a momentous day. The Bridge Singers have their one and only Christmas recital including three of my pieces: Hodie Christus Natus Est; The Lamb and Chantry Chapel Carol. Southern Voices from Winchester are singing Hodie Christus Natus Est in their Christmas recital, and Kantos from Manchester are singing Cantate Domino in theirs. I heard about these last two today!
Jamie and I went to Newcastle with a list. We came back with everything on it. However, the main reason for going there was to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema, but alas when we got there all the daytime screenings were sold out, so we entertained ourselves by going to The Baltic and discussing the art, and by taking pictures of orange things as we tackled some iconic structures.
Practising for Rock Festival Choir’s Advent Concert – at home, with the rest of the choir. In between there was some filing cabinet action. More news of that anon. Overnight a choir ordered 35 copies of my Hodie Christus Natus Est – a sure sign they’re really going to sing it. I looked them up and their Christmas concert is at exactly the same time as ours in The Bridge Singers – we’ll be singing it simultaneously!
Veronica and I did a double act this morning with The Cheviot Singers. We sang everything I’ve done with them while she was away including You Will Remember, our spirituals and our ABBA selection. I finished off the programme notes for The Bridge Singers – three of my pieces in that one and my arrangement of Gary’s “Darling Daddy”. Then off to Lionheart Harmony where we sang No-Umbrella Blues amongst other things. This photo is from yesterday – looking in the opposite direction to the rising moon.
- The massed bands play When I Am Laid In Earth by Purcell, and Elgar’s Nimrod at the Cenotaph in London every year as part of the Remembrance Day services.
- The first ever performance of the hymn Only Remembered was by the composer Sankey himself who set the words of Bonar to music and sang the new hymn at a family funeral.
- The composer of Prayer Of The Children, Kurt Bestor, lived in Yugoslavia in the 1970s and this is why he was so emotionally invested in the plight of the innocent victims of the wars there in the 1990s, and in turn composed this gorgeous and heart-rending piece.
- Lotti’s Crucifixus is part of a larger work – Credo in F. I rather like it and feel that we might sing the whole thing one day.
I’ve been preparing the programme for the 10th November concert today, and this is how I know this stuff now.
At the end of the day we hightailed it to Warkworth because I wanted to watch the full moon coming out of the ocean at 6.17pm. It was glorious. The sun set in a blaze of orange and pink glory and the moon was orange. Awesomely orange it was. My camera couldn’t really cope with the gloriousness of it, but I was exceedingly excited. Walking along the beach in the dark with a rusty sky to the right and brightening moon dancing with clouds to the left is a splendid thing.
After taking Jamie to the train for London, I went to the sunrise at Warkworth. There were oystercatchers to admire, and lots of people. Early summer sunrises are so much more enjoyable than this. Later I was off to Wooler for Glendale Voices’ first go at my You Will Remember, driving through the darkness with the beautiful, nearly-full moon at my back. They’re performing it on November 10th – the same day that we’re performing it in The Bridge Singers.
Choir prep including the programme cover for the Commemoration recital. Started watching the new Doctor Who series with Jodie Whittaker. It’s good. She’s good. You could use that Rosa Parks episode as a teaching tool in Social Studies. It was The Bridge Singers again tonight – polishing.
Pancakes for breakfast then sorting out a version of You Will Remember for Glendale Singers.
Singing Day with The Bridge Singers in the delightful Newton-On-The-Moor Village Hall. I had made a very lengthy list of things I wanted us to get through on this day which was organised to help with preparation for our WW1 Commemoration Recital on November 10th and to make up for the rehearsals we re-assigned to thrilling Brinkburn prep in September. Amazingly enough, we got through everything. We did a trial run of the first half in the morning and the second half in the afternoon complete with readings and Northumbrian pipes, and of course there are several moments that are troublesome, but there are three rehearsals left and I was well pleased with our hard work and the sound we’re making. I think our recital is going to be wonderful. The mince pies were good too. I was complimented on my pastry! For a lighter mood, in the last hour we sang through some Christmas repertoire including this one, which mentions mince pies!
Today I have been mostly making mince pies for the festive section of tomorrow’s singing day with The Bridge Singers. I have 35 ordinary ones and 11 vegan ones. That should cover it. When I say ordinary, I don’t really mean it. I searched through the internet for mince pie recipes in the hope that I could produce something less ordinary than the only ones in the books I have, which merely says roll out the pasty, cut, fill with mincemeat, cook. I printed off Ainsley Harriott’s recipe and followed it to the letter except that I added cinnamon and orange juice to the pastry, and grated apple, chopped apricots and sherry to the mince. I used my fancy roller/cutter for the upper pastry rounds and replaced some butter with lard in the mix, because that’s what Mum does. For the vegan ones, the mince was the same, but I made the pastry with vegan margarine instead of butter and lard, and took out the egg yolks. Jamie did trial munching of the ordinary one that exploded in the oven and the vegan one that didn’t have a top, and declared them tasty. Try Ainsley’s recipe for yourselves!
I have spent a good deal of time today with Ding Dong Merrily On High and O Holy Night. Such cheery tasks.
We went to the trains early doors, and both got on. At York, Jamie stayed put, bound for London, and I got off and had a chat with Mum and cousin George. George went to work and Mum and I spent the day wandering purposefully on the city walls, through several shops and around the Minster. Being achy of feet we returned to York Station ahead of time for a sit-down prior to departure. Mum’s train had been cancelled, so she ended up getting on a variety of earlier ones, and still made it home on schedule. Mine was delayed and so I ended up hightailing it through Newcastle to the buses and made it home at 7pm.
We liked the walls. We loved the Minster (especially as we had our returning visitor tickets!), and I was very excited to see scaffolding around the quire and other bits. I do like scaffolding on iconic buildings mostly because it usually means that they’re being cared for.
Album – The Evidence Of Feet. I needed to collect train tickets from a ticket machine at a station, so I plumped for Alnmouth and decided to walk there. I parked the car in my usual spot at Warkworth Beach and set out. The first thing I spotted was a discarded shoe and that set my agenda for this four hour walk to Alnmouth and back. It started out cloudy with a southerly breeze, and ended up cloudy with a southerly breeze, but the sun came out briefly to warm me up. By the time I got back to the car park, there was a veritable traffic jam – a most unusual thing for me, but I coped admirably.
Monday, so as all Mondays, totally taken up with matter concerning The Bridge Singers. Rehearsal tonight which was buzzing as usual, but during the day I’ve set up a Youtube channel for us, so that from now on the choir’s videos will not have to be on mine. I also made two cakes today which are yummy.
Today the following things have been said or written to me about various examples of my music:
“I thought it was just another of ‘Cheryl’s difficult pieces’ but now I’m into it I can see where you’re coming from. It’s a challenge but it’s really very effective.”
“It’s such a simple piece, but very effective. I love it.”
“You’ve created another corker with that.”
“It’s too late to be telling me about Christmas music. I’ve already selected mine.”
“It’s too early to be telling me about Christmas music. I’m busy with remembrance music.”
Basically you can’t win, but neither can you lose, so I’ll just plough on, shall I?
More shopping, more singing, more apple picking (they’re exceptionally large, unchomped-by-creatures and sweetish this year). I added some more apple and a can of cider to one of our bags of blackcurrant and apple gloop from the freezer and made crumbles for the next few days. We had one while watching the final episode of Killing Eve on the BBCiPlayer. An excellent series. I recommend it to one and all. Also today, views on my Youtube channel seapieparcel (https://www.youtube.com/user/seapieparcel) passed 35,000, and also someone bought scores of my arrangement of The Lambton Worm from my website. This fade-in features The Bridge Singers on a snippet of that song from 2016 and the viewing figures conveniently stopped dead on 35,000 so I could grab a screenshot of the momentous event – three seconds after this it raced to 35,001!
Shopping. I also went up and visited three old friends, and started a new song.
There’s a type of juice I love from Marks and Spencer, which I believe we now have to call M&S because it’s more snappy and “today”. The juice is filled with pineapple, mango and passionfruit. They have it on offer – 2 for £4. Today, after depping for Veronica one final time in Wooler, I drove the car to Morpeth Station for Jamie to use later and walked down to the bus station. On the way I popped into the afore-mentioned retail outlet for said juice and noticed another sitting by its side, also part of the offer – strawberry and banana. I got one of each. They are both delicious. This is a happy turn of events as a bit of variety is an excellent thing. Once home, I made cheese straws for Lionheart Harmony, three of them came along and we sang and laughed and ate cheese straws, then they left. Then I walked up to Sylvia and Don’s house where about 15 of us ate snacks and remembered our friend Bob whose funeral had been earlier in the week.
Another new spiritual to me is Ride The Chariot which I’ve been arranging today for tomorrow’s Cheviot Singers. I’ve listened to a few versions, and I rather like this one. I went out for the sunrise this morning and it was glorious. Quite a contrast to Monday.
I went to the sunrise, but it was dark and rainy, so as you see there was not so much of the oranges and pinks as other days. It’s rather thrilling walking along the beach in such darkness – all sorts of noises you cannot see the source of. Because it was so dreich there were no other people – another bonus. The sea was behaving exactly as in the lyrics of this song. David on Twitter wrote: This is a really gorgeous piece by @seapieparcel
Later it was the joy of The Bridge Singers and we worked hard, as ever, including on my You Will Remember.
Christmas cakes! Mmm. Also, I have new slippers. This is a good time of year to buy yourself new slippers because the shops think we want to buy them for our relatives for Christmas. The warm embrace with which they welcome your feet when they are brand new like this is truly a wondrous feeling. Because I mostly work at home they really are my work shoes, so it’s very important that they cause no distress from the getgo. So essentially today, I made Christmas cakes in my new kitchen with my new slippers on my feet and it was therefore a splendid day.
Yesterday, wanting sprouts and knowing deep down in my heart that there were some in the freezer, but not being able to locate them in said appliance, I remembered the old fridge freezer still whirring away in the utility room from the golden summer days of the temporary kitchen, the days of crisp sandwiches, the days before the orange. It’s funny how you forget about a thing even though you pass it several times a day as you head to the back door, to the washing machine, to the glass recycling receptacle, as it stands there bigly blocking out the light, preventing other things being put back in their rightful place… and yet you do forget. I did find the sprouts and also a drawerful of blackcurrants awaiting their fate (also a six-pack of sausages). We decided that today would be the day to clear out this fridge freezer completely, and deal to the blackcurrants, which as you recall were abundant this year.
And so, this morning we hied to Cramlington with a list as long as your lower arm plus your hand, almost exceeded the four-hour parking limit as we trailed through more shops than you might imagine usefully existed there, and came home with all the paraphernalia required to implement our plans. After the entire afternoon of chopping apples, washing and picking over blackcurrants, washing jam jars covered in builder’s dust, stirring, decanting, listening to Cardiff City continue their non-winning streak live on the radio, being stared at through the window by the new holiday let guests next door, we are now the owners of two large Kilner jars of steeping blackcurrant liqueur, 36 jars of blackcurrant jam and vast quantities of apple and blackcurrant gloop for future use in crumbles and the like. In the quiet moments, I weighed and set a-soaking-in-whiskey-or-rum two lots of fruit to make Christmas cakes tomorrow, ironed a shirt for tonight’s gig in Alnwick, sorted music for the same, and as we screwed the last lid on the last jar of jam with moments to spare, we hightailed it to Barbara’s birthday party to meet up with our fellow Lionheart Harmony chums. It’s the first time since the new kitchen that I did not clean it up when I left it. It is also the first time that the tiled splashback behind the stove had a thorough workout with the spluttering jam. I might add that I did wipe that down, afeared as I was of permanent pinking of my grout, but it held up well.
I have spent a lot of today in the company of this wonderful arrangement by Vaughan Williams. The Bridge Singers will be including it the “War Composers” section of their Commemoration Recital on November 10th – a section of the concert that will be focussing on more optimistic feelings and interpretations of that whole WW1 experience. One of the beauties of it is that we can also sing it in our Christmas recital which is merely a month later. Later in the day Jamie and I were doing more Christmas planning sitting on our coppery stools in the kitchen with recipe books, and then off I went to Fingers Adrift where we tootled away on more of Alison’s vast collection of music for ensembles. I was particularly taken with some Italian dances by Anon, and also some other Italian dances which required me to use my fingers in a fleeting manner.
I went off to Wooler again this morning to dep for Veronica with the Cheviot Singers. What a laugh we have – and lots of singing done too. When I got home my new New Zealand passport had arrived. What larks Jamie and I had trying to take a photo of me which met all the criteria – our first effort was rejected, so the arrival of this document was a big relief as much as anything. I’d like to go to New Zealand now, thank you. This evening was Lionheart Harmony preparing for Barbara’s 70th birthday party sing on Saturday evening with lots of merriment as ever. When I got home from this one, there was one of those photo challenges awaiting me on Twitter – my life in seven black and white photos, no explanations. I don’t like these challenges particularly and I won’t be following the rules out of contrariness, but it set me a-thinking and a-rootling, so what I’ve found thus far….
Lotsa learning tracks…and spirituals. This was a new one to me. I shall try it out tomorrow in Wooler.
Extreme Laziness. However, I did do a bit of sorting and in the evening Jamie and I went for a walk along the beach at sunset. A rare treat indeed. I took my camera and the sea pie were on display in front of a splashy sea.
Finishing off the scores for my new song, which is now called, Not The Sort Of Song I Sing In The Shower, trying the song out on Alison, musician-chat with Alison, printing scores, taking choir. This latter was hard because of the absence of Bob who was large in body and also in personality and had been on such excellent form in recent weeks. We did start learning my new song at the end of the rehearsal, but I did not explain its significance as I thought this would set me and perhaps several others off. I spoke to and laughed with Bob often recently about the benefits of grasping opportunities when they present themselves and giving fully of oneself to everything one does, about being happy and busy in the face of quite a lot of sadness, as both he and I have tried to do throughout this rather distressing year. I saw no reason to ignore his advice, just because it was he himself who was causing our sadness. If I am to grasp my opportunities and give fully of myself, and be happy and busy, as he advocated, then it is to create and facilitate musicmaking and try to enthuse the choir to love doing so as much as I do. This was my approach to last night’s rehearsal. I did send an explanation in an email later.