Tuesday, 26 November 2013

St Andrew's School Sings in Bath Abbey.

The whole school sang songs to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sir Benjamin Britten.

"Friday Afternoons" is a UK wide initiative devised  Aldeburgh Music to mark the centenary of Benjamin Brittan's birth.  It was launched on November 23rd 2012 and culminated on Britten's birthday on Friday November 23rd 2013.  Tens of thousands of young people across the country sang the set of songs on Friday afternoon.

The set of twelve songs is fairly easy to sing, and is accompanied by a gloriously witty piano accompaniment.  It was composed by Britten between 1933 and 1935, and dedicated to Britten's schoolmaster brother Robert, and the boys of Clive House School, Prestatyn, a school in which choir pratice and singing lessons regularly took place on a Friday afternoon.  The songs exemplify Britten's desire to involve the community and young people in music making.

Shean Bowers, the cathedral's choral director attempts to organise the small children.

"A Living Tree," a new song was composed by the pupils of St Andrew’s School in collaboration with Will Gregory, as a legacy of their love of singing, particularly in their weekly Celebration Assemblies on Thursday afternoons. The first performance in Bath Abbey was accompanied by an orchestra made up of all the wonderful instrumentalists at the school – pupils, staff and parents.

Bath Abbey in autumn sunlight.

Fan vaulted ceiling in the nave.

A fan vault if a form of vault used in the Gothic style, in which the ribs are all of the same curve and spaced equidistantly, in a manner resembling a fan.  The earliest example, dating from about the year 1351 is seen in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral.  The largest fan vault in the world can be found in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge.

Fan vaulting is peculiar to England.  The lierne vault in the cathedral of Barbastro in Spain closely resembles a fan vault, but it does not form a conoid, the rounded diamond shape between the fans.   It is thought that Catherine of Aragon was the possible source of English influence in Aragon.
The fan vault is attributed to developments in Gloucester between the years 1351 to 1377, with the earliest example being the east cloister walk of Gloucester Cathedral.   Other examples of early fan vaults exist around Gloucester, suggesting the particular activity of several 14th century master masons in the area, who created the new form of vault, and experimented with the form.   
The ceiling lit up in the bright sunlight on Friday afternoon.  What a lovely space in which to sing.

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