August! It’s done – in a blaze of printer ink and stapling glory, the music was delivered to Shuna at approximately 10.35 am on September 1st – well most of it. A running out of paper for this and ink for that necessitated a teensy after-delivery at 5.15-ish. But still. My list of 54 potential fruit songs has been whittled down to 26, and I am set for Monday. And so…… today I will sleep and tidy up and sleep some more, and then after one more snooze and a little go with the shredder, I shall get back to composing and weeding.
Fruity song of the day: I’ve Never Seen A Straight Banana by Ted Waite. At the time of writing, I am almost successful with my stated aim of getting all The Bridge Singers’ new term’s music to the choir librarian by the end of the month. There’s still overnight to go, and early morning (My appointment with Shuna is at 10am.) I’m struggling with the non-delivery of two items (one is actual music, the other is printer ink for the shiny new printer), but the old printer is gamely taking the strain, and I am confident of success. Gary listened to the arrangement of his “Till Autumn Comes” song this evening and seemed content with what he heard, so that’s a happy relief. August, eh! It’s been a busy one.
Non-fruity festive song of the day: Balulalow from A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten. We’ll be singing this one along with Deo Gratias, which does have fruit in it, so I think we’ll get away with the fruit dearth. I’ve spent most of today completing the prune, but have also managed jovial chatting and damson-picking with lovely friends Peter and Jacqui, and jovial lemon-drizzle-cake-eating and chatting with lovely Julie and Shirley, and have got lovely Gary’s song ready for inspection by the composer tomorrow.
Fruity song of the day: The Prune Song by Frank Crumit. It’s exceedingly silly and I’m not sure it should really be in a concert with Guerrero’s Ego Flos Campi (See August 8th for that one), but there you go – variety is what we like in The Bridge Singers, and they are after all both fruity. We did do both When I’m Cleaning Windows and Lotti’s Crucifixus in our last concert. Even though this was no doubt a big hit in the 1920s, it’s impossible to find a score of it that doesn’t involve bidding on Ebay, so it’s been another day of intricate transcribing. What I find is that I get very caught up in trying to notate what I hear, which I generally manage sufficiently well, and then a good night’s sleep is required to let that settle while your brain comes up with a way of making it into choir music. I did find extra lyrics though, which do not appear on this or any other recording. The missing lyrics mention bananas, so I simply must find a way of including them, eh!? In other news, I went for a stroll up to the shop for ice cream supplies and in the three minute journey, I met three lovely choir members, two other choir member’s lovely wives, and someone I’ve seen in our audiences and chatted to, but don’t know the name of, and then my lovely next door neighbour happened by so we walked home together. It all took over half an hour what with all the chatting and hugging. Happy place to live.
Fruity song of the day: Gooseberry Pie. “Oh-ho Jack, my mouth is sure watering”, rounds this one off nicely. We’ll be singing this one with the basses to the fore. Yesterday’s cakes continue to provide serious culinary enjoyment, and today’s TV recommendation is “Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling”.
Fruity treat of the day: coffee cakes with chocolate goo and blackcurrant jelly. In a deviation from the relentless and cheery preparation of fruity music for The Bridge Singers, which I’ve promised myself (and our choir librarian) will be finished by the end of August, I took half an hour off to make cakes. They were (and still will be tomorrow) delicious…and we are in agreement on this. Elsewhere, the Gooseberry pie is making steady progress, the printer has only had one minor hissy fit, the sugar plums are dancing prettily, and Gary’s last chord is starting to make itself known to me.
Fruity English custom of the day: Apple wassailing in Somerset. I’ve been sorting out a song about this today and found this informative video to help me. We’ll be singing the song you hear them incanting during the ceremony, at our fruit concerts this December. We may well also do the chant at the end. I’m not so sure about the gunfire, though. Elsewhere, Cardiff City are still at the top of the league, with five out of five victories, which is a source of great delight to me.
Festive fruit song of the day: Jesus Christ The Apple Tree by Elizabeth Poston. This arrived in the post today. Ooh – 50 copies of crisp brand new music that I haven’t had to produce myself. Delicious crunchy apples too. I’ve finished off The Lemon Tree today, with it’s rock steady beat, and we watched Man In An Orange Shirt on the BBCiPlayer. I recommend it to you – I think it will be there for another week or so.
Fruit song of the day: Lemon Tree by Will Holt. Performed here by The Wailers in what I understand to be a RockSteady style – I’m half way through preparing this one for performance. In other news, Gary’s piece is arranged, but I may go back to it and tinker before printing – always best to let these things settle in.
Festive fruit song of the day: Deo Gratias by Benjamin Britten. I’ve been dealing with libraries and choir librarians today and indeed for a few weeks now in an attempt to obtain copies of A Ceremony of Carols for The Bridge Singers to use this coming term. Today seems to have been the day when the task is done, with multiple confirmations and notifications of delivery coming my way. We’re just doing three of the movements including this one which has an apple in it. I’ve also continued with my arrangement of “Until Autumn Comes” and have successfully arrived at the middle eight.
Fruity song of the day: Ooh Ladyfinger. I’ve been tweaking this today to make it suitable for a SATB choir. here it is being performed by Craighead Chorale of Timaru in New Zealand, under the invisible but ever-present direction of Vicki McLeod. I’ve also been making an arrangement of Gary’s song “Until the Autumn Comes” which luckily has berries in it so we can sing it this term in the fruity concerts too. Before I could crack on with the arrangement, I’ve had to transcribe it from his recording. It’s full of syncopation. I think all my ear training tutors over the years would have been proud of my efforts.
Fruity song of the day: Ruddier Than The Cherry from Acis and Galatea by Handel. I’ve been fiddling with this today. I love this performance – the eyes and eyebrows are very expressive and the energy and verve is what I’m hoping for, even if we might have to sing it at a slower speed to accommodate the sprinting sections. It’s Calvin Griffin singing and an unknown but very finger-dextrous pianist.
Festive fruit song of the day: Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake.
Statistic of the day: Music on seapieparcel’s Youtube channel has been listened to 26,000 times – this last milestone achieved yesterday. Since the last 1000, top of the pile is “Look Back” which once again has had no marketing – I think it’s those youngsters reminiscing as they reach the end of another school year! The next seven videos are by The Bridge Singers as we’ve looked back on our achievements at the end of our second year. Have a look yourselves and find something you like the sound of!
Reflections of the day: looking back on our week at the Edinburgh Festivals. You can see elsewhere that we went to the Monteverdi opera trilogy at Usher Hall and in between followed in the footsteps of Tam O’Shanter, but we did plenty more besides and now we’re back, it’s time to ponder.
Opera of the day: L’Incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi at Usher Hall as part of the Edinburgh Festival, performed by The Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra with soloists, directed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner. So three operas in four days is quite a thing – an amazing, inspirational thing. This one has the most exquisitely drawn out, quiet, tender ending you can possibly imagine – my favourite thing in it. Only two choruses in this one, the first of which is at the very end of the first half when all the palace’s male servants and mates of Seneca, plead with him not to kill himself. It’s incredibly emotional and dramatic (and ultimately doesn’t work, which is a shame, if only because the guy playing him has the most sumptuously rich bass voice, and it meant we didn’t get to hear him again), and quite startling after an hour and a half of solos, duets and trios – Jamie’s favourite thing in it. I might add that Penelope from the other night – so heartfelt and nobly overwrought then – was the comic turn tonight as Poppea’s nurse. A particularly fine and versatile singer and actor. Monteverdi is simply brilliant – so emotional and yet tuneful, and these performers in both orchestra and chorus are the absolute finest. How very lucky we are to have experienced all three operas like this. Here’s the left hand side’s harpsichordist’s score awaiting the first notes to be played.
Tam of the day: Tam O’Shanter. We upped and earlied and caught some trains to Ayr, from where we hightailed it afoot, through wind and rain to Alloway, following the route of our hero. It was almost identical to Burns’ tale really apart from the fact we were not fou (although we were unco happy), the thunder did not bellow (although the rattling showers did rise on the blast), we were not mounted on our grey mare Meg (although one of us did croon o’er some auld Scots sonnet). I (perhaps irritatingly) regaled Jamie with extracts from the poem which I know reasonably well, as we battled the brolly. We stopped off at all the Burns-related places of note (museum, cottage, Auld Kirk, newer church with excellent stained glass windows, poets walk, memorial) and were funny about and interested in them. When we attained the keystone o’ the brig we turned, having kept ourselves in one piece unlike poor Maggie’s rump, and came back along a different route, and even though the now stronger wind blew as ‘twad blawn its last, all was well, if a little damp and drouthy.
Opera of the Day: Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria by Claudio Monteverdi, performed by The Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra with soloists, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner at the Usher Hall as part of the Edinburgh Festival. Here we are settling in for the second half of over three hours of completely exquisite music. It doesn’t have the bombast of Orfeo and there are no sackbuts, but we agreed when we left that this was better, and then spent our journey home trying to pinpoint why. It’s more solo-y and less chorus-y, but each chorus when it comes is sublimely perfect in its mood, colour and delivery. The solos are finely-wrought and often are in fact punctuated or concluded with moments of duet or trio – the variety is tantalising. The singers were all so very excellent. My favourite was Penelope – her tone was a bit counter-tenorish at times, but the best clarity-of-tone elements of that combined with a subtle warmth when required. Jamie’s favourite was Minerva who had the leapiest and most athletic of vocal gymmastics. She also had good arm gestures. We agreed that each singer really knew what they were singing about, and let us know is so many ways. There was humour and woe and joy and tenderness and plenty of other emotions too. We agreed that our favourite moment was when the chorus men sang together for the first time – the sound was electrifyingly edgy and after all the filigree and emotion of the soloists up at that point it was startling too. Two operas in two days, and remarkably the person sitting to the left of us, even though we’ve been in completely different parts of the hall was the same both nights. Ooh. Spooky.
Opera of the day: Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi at the Usher Hall as part of the Edinburgh Festival, performed by the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra with soloists, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Things we loved the most: live sackbuts (in a variety of sizes) and cornets played with such warmth and precision that I had goosebumps; the Monteverdi chorus which has the most thrillingly huge, edgy sound when it needs to, but again also warmth, and such blend that can only be marvelled at in awe; the colour and vitality in Monteverdi’s orchestrations – the teensy violins were a particularly delightful diversion; I love all the thousands of intricate ornaments in the solo singing, saucing up the melodies with the exact right amount of zest; did I mention the sackbuts and cornets? Oh my were they exquisite; choreography in the choir that involved cuddling up to your favourite tenor at times of great cheer or despair; the enormous and sustained sound of loads of clapping in a hall which seems to have excellent acoustics, and then again the enormous clattering of several hundred seats snapping back into the upright position as everyone gets up to leave at the same time; the halo of just one particular gentleman on the opposite side of the audience, the top of whose head was sitting in the beam of one of the spotlights whenever it brightly shone. We agreed that during the extensive woe sections we noticed with particular acuity the discomfort of the seating, but not at any other times. We also liked this spiral stairwell, and noted with happiness that we had possibly witnessed the best in the world at this sort of music and performance.
Uneventful things of the day: Up early in Worksop; drive north including sneeze-inducing sunshine through the windows, not much traffic and no idiot drivers, discussions about responsible tourism, 50MPH speed limits, slow music on the radio; late breakfast while watching race-walking on the telly; further shredding; transcribing; arranging; cricket on the radio; athletics on the telly; bus timetables; sleeping. At the start of all this Mum reminded us that it was our 15th wedding anniversary sometime last week, which means that we have been together for 25 years. Here we are around then looking young and thin in Indonesia.
Cricketer of the Day: Tim Bresnan of Yorkshire. We’ve driven to Worksop and are enjoying an evening of cricket on the telly. Tim Bresnan took four wickets in the last over for Yorkshire against Lancashire and also ran someone out. I like him. He’s very enthusiastic and has quite large biceps. Here are the highlights of the game:
Surprising task of the day: Shredding the sortings from the filing cabinet. Surprising and thrilling, in fact. Thrilling because I’ve never done much in the way of shredding before (which I guess is partly why the filing cabinet needed sorting in the first place, and also because Jamie’s always been chief shredder for some reason) and we have a brand new shredder – it’s hardcore: takes up to 12 sheets at once and copes with staples, CDs and plastic sheets. Surprising, because you can’t shred very much really before the catcher is full – shredded paper is a lot, lot, lot, lot bigger than unshredded paper. I just thought it would be one lot bigger, I guess.
Poem with fruit in it of the day: Will Ye Go To The Indies, My Mary? by Robert Burns. It has a tune too, which makes it more appealing…. but not here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zwkz4
“Eight-part, antiphonal 16th century motet that mentions fruit” of the day: Ego Flos Campi by Francisco Guerrero: Been preparing the score of this today ready for September. I’ve been listening to a few versions and this is my favourite, partly because there are sackbuts in it.
Resurfacing of the day: the bridge outside my windows. I wrote a diary of the workmen’s day for the choir. They seem to like my “workmen through the window” updates. If you’d also like to read the whole thing, send word, and I’ll happily forward to you, but in the meantime, here’s a brief outline of what happened, with The Bridge Singers doing their characterful thing at Brinkburn in July.
Composer of the day: John Rimmer. He dropped in for a cup of tea and a slice of raspberry cake. He used to be my composition lecturer in New Zealand, and now he’s my friend who calls in on his way from Dundee to Middlesbrough. The four of us (Me, John, Helen, Jamie) spoke of organs, bagpipes, marathons, cruises, choirs, sheep and courgettes. Last time they were over here, we met them on a train at Alnmouth, got off in Darlington, they went on to Middlesbrough, we came home. I laugh here, because Helen said, “Bend your knees, Cheryl!” and I did. Also, bass clarinet music by John.
Song not by me but about me of the day: these four (Jenny, Rebekah, Penny and Shuna) made up a song to sing at the end-of-year party for The Bridge Singers. a couple of weeks ago. It was clever and funny and I was very happy and honoured to “receive” it. I found the lyrics sheet during what is turning into a monster tidy up in the office. It involves going through two entire filing cabinets and a few random piles – that’s over 30 years’-worth of composing and teaching stuff. “Going through” in this instance means throwing out lots of and keeping some of, and then there’s all the nostalgia welling up. It’s a nutty problem and no mistake. Hear a snippet of the songs and read a little more about it here.
Feedback of the day: “Wonderful!”, written by someone I don’t know on one of my songs on Youtube. A few have fed back similarly in recent months! Nice to collate. Read some collated feedback here!
Website task of the day: Updating my “portfolio” section, which I realise I should do constantly, but I seem to leave until I have a glut of things to write up. It turns out I’ve been quite busy since last July when I last tackled this task. I have no news on the “removes”. Nothing has happened today, but when I went out to obtain cheese, I observed that there are no removes near the posts on the opposite side of the bridge, so over here is where the action will be when it starts.
See my updated portfolio section here!
Removes of the day: something’s afoot on the old bridge.
Hailstones of the day: by Handel in Israel In Egypt at the Proms on Radio 3. They start at 1:19:55, if you just want to hone in on the weather, but the frogs, flies, lice and locusts before it and the great darkness and water overwhelming their enemy after it, not to mention the smiting of the first borns are well worth listening to, and then of course you could sit back and enjoy the whole thing!