This week I decided to take some action on the future for my choirs. As my name is not Boris Johnson I was limited in my scope. I sent out a One-question survey to the East Sussex Community Choir (100 members); Lewes Chamber Choir (31 members) and Brighton Singers (32 members). Assuming it is within Government guidelines for Choirs to meet again in September, and assuming we meet as we normally do in Lewes, please say how likely you are to return to (named) Choir in September 2020. On a scale of 1-4, 1 being least likely, 4 being most likely, how do you stand?Read More →

Richard Morrison wrote an excellent article in The Times on 4 June which draws attention very well to the situation facing 2 million choristers in British Choirs. This is the first and only article I’ve come across – so far, but I know that many choirs have linked to this article on their web and facebook pages and it’s prompted a lot of positive discussion about the future for choirs. Last week, friend and local singer Judy Mackerras, drew my attention to some work being done by Jackie Cassell (singer, epidemiologist and Deputy Director of the Brighton & Sussex Medical School) who is researching how andRead More →

Hi everyone. Today I was due to be conducting the Community Choir in a joint concert with the Paddock Singers (with Ruth Kerr), at St John sub castro, celebrating the centenary of the Pells area being donated to Lewes council by Baxters – the old printing company based down one of the twittens off the High Street. Our choir were going to sing a short programme which we would then have taken to Lisieux in Normandy later in the month. And yesterday, I should have been directing New Sussex Opera’s production of Handel: Acis and Galatea at the All Saint’s Centre in Lewes. Instead, NSORead More →

Today is Bank Holiday Monday 25 May, and has anyone noticed – it’s SUNNY. We’ve had a lot of Bank Holidays recently, 10 & 13 April, then a delayed one on Friday 8 May and now quite an early one a week before the end of May. Today I finished reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace – 1000 pages of closely typed writing. To be truthful, I didn’t quite finish it – I gave up 4 chapters into the Second Epilogue. It took a long time to get into it, as I remember when reading Jane Austen and Dickens, but I got into a rhythm after 200Read More →

  Hi everyone. I thought I would share with you my personal enjoyment of the service of Evensong. By no means all of you will be Christian, indeed I’m careful to keep my own beliefs to myself. As a chorister at Coventry Cathedral 50 years ago, we were drilled to perform as professionals, and that’s been my approach ever since. We sang evensong on Saturday and Sunday evenings, and I’ve always enjoyed the music and the almost spiritual peace and quiet of this service. This is a photo of us, probably around 1968, seated in front of the Chapter House of the cathedral. I loveRead More →

Hi everyone. I realise that it’s over a week since my last post – apologies for that – so here I am ready to keep you up to date with what I’m doing and what’s on my mind. It’s 7 weeks now since Robin and I have been in lockdown. All rehearsals and concerts were cancelled that week – w/b 16 March. We had a friend round to lunch on Tuesday 17th, and since then communication has been by phone, email and blog alone, although we do see neighbours to chat to sometimes. We have a delicatessen Hudsons just down the road which was taken overRead More →

As most of you know, I spend lots of my time working with choirs and immersing myself in choral music. I’ve usually got a rehearsal to prepare or a concert to plan. But today, I’d love to share with you two of my favourite orchestral pieces. Actually I’ve got many favourites, so this is just two of them. Sibelius: Symphony No.2 When I was studying A level music, my main set work was Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 (1937), and I absolutely love that. I remember one of my lecturers was a viola player, Stephen Williams, and he introduced us to a number of other symphonies writtenRead More →

Yesterday, we had breakfast out on the patio – you’ll be impressed (I hope). For once, there were no strimmers strimming,  no builders noisily building, but the birds were singing, particularly (I think), a blackbird. So I rushed inside and got my recorder and recorded about 5 minutes of birdsong. I hope you enjoy it – just press Play! And it brought to mind a piece of music I’d like to share with you. Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the end of time. It sounds a very pretentious title but don’t let that put you off. Messiaen (1908-1992) is best known to us organists but he wroteRead More →

Hello again. We’re now in the 4th week of lockdown. This week the sun has shone and it’s been lovely to spend some time in the garden and start working on my tan! This is the week leading up to Easter. Is that Easter Week or is that next week? I’ve never been too sure. I know that last Saturday – the day before Palm Sunday, I should have been playing organ continuo for Eastbourne Choral Society’s performance of J.S.Bach: St John Passion. I think they plan to postpone that till next year. As organist at St Michaels Church in Lewes, I play a voluntaryRead More →

I know that we’ve all been told that it’s important to do daily exercise in these ‘lockdown’ days. If you can tear yourself away from Tom Daley’s 10 minute home workout, here’s what I’m doing to exercise my fingers. A daily dose of Hanon may annoy the neighbours, but it’s very good for strengthening all five fingers. I was introduced to these exercises when I was about 14 or 15 and although my practice of them has been intermittent, currently I try to do them every day. They are quite boring, but it’s only 10 minutes and they work! First published in 1873, Wikipedia tellsRead More →