Hi everyone. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to start singing together again after a six month gap. We all accept that things are constantly changing and that this may be a brief window of opportunity, but most of the choirs that I know of in Lewes have re-started rehearsals and choristers have been delighted to sing once more.
For me, first off were the Lewes Chamber Choir. We meet in Cliffe Hall where we are restricted to 19 people. We’ve met twice in September. The hall has put in place its own precautions and restrictions making it ‘Covid secure’. Then the choir has its own Risk Assessment. Hand gel is available. People book in. We do ‘track and trace’ and I take a photo of where everyone sits. Here’s the photos to prove it!
And last night my Community Choir met for the first time in St Thomas Church, Cliffe. We had to split the 60 singers who wanted to attend into 2 groups, so we had Sopranos for an hour, then altos, tenors and basses together for an hour. People were really pleased to get together and sing some lovely music. Next week we hope to have the tenors and basses for both hours, and we’ll split the sopranos and altos into two groups so that we have SATB throughout. The church has a lovely acoustic and half way through the Sopranos’ hour, someone came in and said we sounded like angels from outside!
In 10 days time we plan to hold our final Bach Motet workshop. Robin and I set up a series of 6 workshops, covering one of his six motets in each. We started in January and just got our fifth workshop in (Jesu, meine freude) before lockdown. We’ve had to reduce numbers for the last one, my favourite (Komm, Jesu, komm) but we are pretty much full (unless you’re a good tenor, of course).
A night away
This week Robin and I are visiting Knole near Sevenoaks in Kent. This the house that Vita Sackville-West would have liked to inherit but she was a woman, so it went to her brother!! The National Trust have just re-opened the house this week. And then we are returning to Tunbridge Wells and spending the night at the Hotel du Vin (special treat).
A couple of weeks ago in The Week, James Rebanks, who wrote The Shepherd’s Life (which I really enjoyed reading a few years ago) recommended five books, all of which sounded really interesting, so I bought the lot!
The Man who planted trees is a magical story of a French shepherd who spent his entire life planting trees, and succeeded in transforming an utterly barren landscape into a living and thriving place supporting a whole new community. The presence of so many trees leads to water and even streams appearing. Set in the early 20th century, it reads as if it’s a documentary and the many woodcuts make this a really lovely book to read and keep.
Rather more haunting is Hiroshima by John Hersey
Written just a year after the bomb was dropped in 1945, it tells of how six men and women lived through a truly horrific experience, and survived. We’ve all heard of Hiroshima, but this tells their incredible stories and brings to life what it really was like. I must find out what the Japanese involvement in WWII was, and what led to the American decision to carry out this atrocity.
And now I’m tackling Homer: The Odyssey, another of Rebank’s recommendations. It’s a new translation by an American: Emily Wilson and it looks like it reads really well. I’m being helped by Stephen Fry’s Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold which was recommended to me by my friend Peter Hanson (thanks Peter, it’s a really good introduction to those pesky Greeks).
And finally, I must tell you about Dara McAnulty! If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will. Robin reckons he’s the next David Attenborough. He’s 16 years old, autistic (like his Mum and both his siblings), and Diary of young naturalist is his writings over a year (aged 14-15).
He’s incredibly well read and knowledgeable and this book not only describes the nature he experiences around his home in Northern Ireland, but describes what goes on in his autistic mind – how he struggles to compute the bombardment of experiences that most of us manage with ease.
Well, I must get on with other things. I hope you all keep away from the dreaded lurgy, and that we can maintain our freedoms as much as possible.