We started off our year with the great big personality of Eamonn O’Dwyer back as our Musical Director to lead and teach us his wonderful arrangements, which will culminate in a summer concert on 31 July 2024.
It sounds a long way away, but with an Easter break in the middle, time will soon fly. Keep the date in mind and book your summer holidays accordingly!
From Eamonn’s point of view, he was facing a greatly increased choir from when he saw us last.
With so many newbies, a lot of the old songs will be new to a large majority of the choir.
Our treasured Treasurer (aka Mrs Moneybags) wanted to ensure everyone was happy with her position in the choir, along with her side kicks, Carol and Pauline, as we’ve never been officially elected.
This was duly announced and greatly approved by the choir and the In Flagrante Committee is now officially elected.
With so many numbers, it will take time to get to know everyone and patience will be needed to get everyone in place and we will now probably need up to four rows of chairs for each section.
With the different voices in blocks, rather than long lines, this will help to concentrate the sound and bring out the best in us.
We started our warm up with the painful tongue circles. Get used to it as it will be happening every week!
Steal Away is a classic American Negro Spiritual, and was composed by Wallace Willis, a slave, sometime before 1862. Alexander Reid, a minister, heard Willis singing it, transcribed the words and melody, and sent the music to the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Fisk Jubilee Singers were formed in 1871 at a school for freed slaves in order to help save the school from being closed. The choir toured America in order to raise money, and even came to Europe where they performed for Queen Victoria.
It is believed that songs like Steal Away and Wade in The Water had double meanings for the slaves who sang them. Not only did the words reflect their faith and that they would one day “steal away to Jesus” but also acted as code to their fellow workers that they were going to seek to escape their slave-owners, that they would “steal away” via the secret network called the Underground Railroad that would help them reach the northern U.S. states or Canada where they would be free.
One academic has suggested other lines in the song have this double meaning too. “He calls me by the thunder”, for example, refers to the fact that stealing away during a storm was safer because the rains washed away clues that might lead the trackers and their dogs to find the fleeing slave.
Steal Away has been recorded by gospel, rock, country, folk, classical and soul singers and now in Flagrante sings Eamonn’s arrangement with a beautiful underlying piano part.
Don’t rush this song; it has long, slow phrases, so give it plenty of space.
We run through to the end of the first verse and start at the back at the beginning and then sing the lines underneath for the second verse.
The Sop 1s have a harmony the second time ‘The Trumpets sound…’
The House of the Rising Sun was next. This is such a well-known song and everyone will want to sing it in their own way. However, it is not karaoke!
It is important to get the rhythm right so we are all singing the same thing. Keep it clean!
Basses have the stage with singing the first two verses. They can really let themselves go and sing out loud.
The rest of us start with Oohs! Not unusual for Altos and Tenors, but Sopranos (who usually get the tune) really struggle. Eamonn is determined that Sops ‘Ooh’ with harmony in his new songs.
It doesn’t help when they are told they sound like a chorus of owls! Smile and keep it in the cheekbones and that should do the trick!
We all sing the verse ‘Now the only thing….’ Again, the rhythm is important. It is a short ‘suit’ and a long ‘case’ on the word ‘suitcase’
Emphasise the ‘k’ at the end of ‘trunk’ and ‘drunk’
Altos have their quiet moment ‘Oh, mother tell your children …’ keeping ‘children’ short
We all join in ‘spend your life in sin’ – make ‘sin’ short’ and listen for the chord underneath, before coming in with ‘and misery’ with a short gap before singing ‘at the House of the Rising Sun’.
Remember all the individual parts as well as the full versions are in Dropbox.
Listen, sing along and practise at home.
We will be going over them again next week and then starting the other songs in Dropbox, so print your music and be prepared!
Trillers on the Perch
Haydn Nelson Mass
Date: 3 February
Venue: All Saints church by Putney Bridge
Come and sing Haydn Nelson Mass. There will be copies to rent of the Mass.
The Fulham and Hammersmith Choral Society always has a ‘come and sing’ in February ahead of their Spring Concert. I sang with FHCS for over 20 years and they are a friendly bunch of people. It’s a non audition choir. I left when I found the journey too much. Alright when you go there but too many times I found myself at Hammersmith at 9.45 waiting for a non existent Richmond train having sung my heart out for two hours. You all know the feeling! We rehearse during the day \ break for lunch and at 5.00 we sing a ‘performance’ for anyone who turns up. I will send anyone who thinks they’d like to come more details, time it begins and the cost of a ticket. My email is: email@example.com.
A great start to the year!
From Ms Moneybags and the Management