"Here we are again, as happy as can be, all good singers, and jolly good company!" Rehearsals started last Friday for our annual Easter concert at Marlborough College. This year we are singing "Ein Deutsches Requiem" by Brahms, and singing in German, much to the consternation of all, except me of course, and the few other Germanophiles!
Above Simon our conductor looks through the music. His wife has just given birth to a second son called Samuel, and we caught up with all the news from the past ten months, as the choir last met in March 2012. We were also introduced to our new accompanist, a young piano graduate from the Royal College of Music. She plays the Steinway grand piano left.
The Requiem is a sad but romantic piece of music, written after the death in 1856 of Brahms´s friend Robert Schumann, and nine year later in 1865, that of his mother. We cannot be exactly sure what prompted the writing of this great piece of music, but Brahms was deeply affected by the death of both these people. The second work in our concert is Dvorak's "Te Deum" sung with great gusto in Latin. The score looks very black in places with many crotchets and semiquavers, a sure sign that the orchestra will be very busy and noisy, particularly in the brass and timpani sections!
Simon sorts his music during the interval, while the sopranos in the foreground, and the altos, background, relax and chat among themselves. Over half the choir have sung the Requiem before, so that makes learning it so much easier. With good singers leading the way, the rest of us will be carried along! I have a CD of the work, and will listen to it over and over again, and follow the notes in my score. The entire Requiem lasts 90 minutes, and Te Deum, a much shorter work, will be easy to learn.
Here is the whole choir, with the tenors and basses, (never many in any choir) sitting in the back rows, to the right in the photo. The concert hall is being renovated this year, and is not well lit, especially for those singers in the back rows. I sit about centre of this photo, and have plenty of light to read my score with ease. We have only 10 rehearsals, and our concert takes place at the end of March.