Hi everyone. I hope you are all keeping well during this 3rd lockdown. It’s a bit depressing being locked down again, but I’ve decided to make sure I do a few things each day, including phoning friends, writing the occasional blog and organising musical life in the 2nd half of this year. It would be easy to just write off everything until the Autumn, but I like to retain a positive outlook, putting things in place so that they can happen if at all possible. So here’s what I’m up to and maybe you can help me with a few ideas of your own. MyRead More →

Christmas Song Recital – Revisited Last Friday Ruth Kerr and I gave the first iteration of our Christmas recital, and it went very well with an audience of 35 – many of whom were Ruth’s singing pupils or singers in one of her choirs (she conducts both Paddock Singers and Brighton Chamber Choir ). We are repeating it this Friday 18 December at 6pm (last week it was finished by 7.10pm) and we’ve still got 5 tickets available (£10 each) so if any of my readers (in particular) fancy booking one, please email me quickly nick@nickhoughton.org.uk. As I said in my last post, our programmeRead More →

This is the organ at St Michael’s in Lewes, where we are moving towards the completion of our rebuild. Andrew and John removed much of the organ in early September to their workshop on the Isle of Wight. The two manuals you see here have been refurbished. The buttons below each keyboard are pistons. Each piston selects one or more stops, so the  five pistons under each manual allows the organist to ‘bring out’ a particular selection of stops on that particular keyboard. OK so far? There used to be just 6 pistons below each manual and now there are more: six extra General pistons below the SwellRead More →

Well here we go again – 2nd Lockdown starting on Thursday, just in time to make sure Ruth Kerr and I can’t do the 1st (and 2nd) of our three recitals on Friday! Ruth and I have put together three recitals: German song; French and English song; and Christmas song. We decided we would not advertise the specifics of our programme in advance, and definitely none of those contagious paper programmes handed out on the night! Instead, we were going to introduce pieces as we went along. But to give our disappointed punters a taster, here’s one song we recorded when we rehearsed a few daysRead More →

Komm, Jesu, komm On Saturday we held the final workshop in our Bach Motet series which started back in January. J.S.Bach wrote 6 motets, all with just organ continuo accompaniment. Most were written to be sung at a specific funeral, but that’s not to suggest that they are in any way funereal! Most are bright and exciting. Four are for 8 voices; one is for 5 voices and just Lobet den Herrn is for 4 voices (which is also the only one with an independently written organ part). With workshops every other week in January, Feb and March, we just got Jesu, meine Freude in before lockdown andRead More →

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 itsRead More →

It’s over 3 weeks since my last post. Last week Robin and I were in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Lewes Singers were to have sung the services in the Cathedral over the Bank Holiday weekend, but of course that was cancelled nearly 2 months ago. But we had a holiday cottage booked for the week, so took it as our Summer holiday. While we were up there we visited Ripon Cathedral (obviously); Fountains Abbey, which is a vast but well preserved ruins of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1120. We spent a day in York, visiting the cathedral and having lunch in the Guy Fawkes InnRead More →

Many of you will know that I was born in Coventry and becoming a chorister at the cathedral there set me up to become the musician that I am. Before then, I remember having aspirations to become a fireman, but after a year of two as a chorister, all that was forgotten and all I wanted was to become a cathedral organist. I lived in Coventry until I went to university, and apart from returning for holidays as a student, I’ve only been back a handful of times in the last 40 years; my parents even moved away when they retired. Coventry has over thoseRead More →

I know I did a post earlier today, so I hope you don’t mind me doing an update on how I’m reacting to the current buzz of discussion about the future of choirs post Covid19, and to reassure you that I’m thinking of all my choir members and what our shared future might be. First: thanks to a number of people who made me aware of this work going on: Sing into the funnel please: inside the Covid-19 lab hoping to declare singing safe https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/22/sing-funnel-covid-19-lab-hoping-declare-singing-safe Second: York University are doing some research relevant to choirs;  “The University of York is researching the impact of COVID-19 on choirRead More →

Yesterday, Robin and I took an adventurous trip to London having booked tickets to see the Titian exhibition at the National Gallery. We boarded the train with our face masks on (cute matching ones that Robin ran up last week). The 11.06 out of Eastbourne was 8 carriages long, and until we got to Croydon, there were no more than 6 people in ours (a few more joined at Croydon and Clapham J). When we moved towards the ticket barriers at Victoria, I remembered I had to take some photos for this blog. Have you ever seen it so empty?! We walked out of Victoria,Read More →