Yesterday I joined a bunch of other singers in the famous St Martin-in-the Fields church at Trafalgar Square for a morning singing workshop on three of Handel’s Coronation Anthems, followed at 12.30 by a public performance. (That’s me – soprano 24 – in the black and grey stripes – it was a very bad hair day).
The workshop was led by St Martin’s Musical Director, Dr Andrew Earis who made the event great fun. He told us a story of one time he was rehearsing these pieces. A bird who had flown into the church decided to ceaselessly dive-bomb the proceedings. When it came to the performance, the bird set about his bombing business again, only this time it also showered the gathered company with its blessings (my words).
When it came to the performance, Andrew introduced us to the audience, pointing out that the performers had never sung together before.
Andrew Earis is a graduate of the Royal College of Music, Imperial College London and gained a PhD at Manchester University. He’s a regular contributor to BBC Radio and Television, as music advisor, conductor and organist to programmes including BBC One’s Songs of Praise. He is also Director of Music of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the National Musicians’ Church in the City of London. Andrew is an Associate of the Royal College of Organists and Fellow of Trinity College, London. He has given organ recitals in venues including King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Washington National Cathedral, and has performed as soloist of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony.
My husband came up to St Martin’s with me (he took the photos) as I was terrified. I’ve never done this before and I’d only rehearsed these pieces twice, though I’d done some work at home on them. I’m always worried not of making a fool of myself (at my age I’ve done that too many times to care any longer) but of letting others down and spoiling a performance. It was good that three ladies with whom I sing – a soprano, an alto and a tenor – decided to come too and they knew some of the other singers taking part, from other choral societies.
Then, dotted about, were soloists from St Martin’s Choral Voices, St Martin’s professional vocal ensemble, made up of past and present choral scholars. It was very good to sing with professionals.
It was a joy and a privilege. Not just because of the singing, but because the small fee for the workshop helped towards St Martin’s community work. Check out The Connection St Martin’s and in particular take A Closer Look and you will read about the Art Room, Food Glorious Food and what is being done for the Dogs of the Homeless.
This beautiful window was a replacement for the original, blown out during the Blitz. I can’t find any information about it on the St Martin’s web site. It is even more lovely from the inside, looking out on the facing trees. I love stained glass windows. They are like jewels and static, as images. This is different, organic, alive, ever-changing, a reminder that nature, Creation, is always at work, even at the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world.
After the concert, we had lunch in St Martin’s renowned Cafe in the Crypt and so in the end, I had a jolly good adventure. And you have to have adventures, don’t you?
What adventures have you had recently? Are you planning an adventure?
I’d like to know.