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Thread: CE Guildford Cathedral 14th March 2012

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by StagHillBill View Post
    Hello!

    I am a newcomer to this forum, but have been reading with great interest since directed here a few months ago by a friend. Not really my thing to do much posting, but since I'm a regular worshipper at Guildford it seemed appropriate this time!

    Indeed it was the girls choir, who I think did a fantastic job, especially considering that this is that particular choir's first time on the airwaves. Came across to me as very confident, and it was nice to hear the choir sounding more immediate: the building is unkind with regards to the placing of congregation with respect to the choir, and the organ tends rather to get in the way.

    To those who might, for some curious reason, be concerned that the broadcasting of the girl's choir could be a mask to a failing boys choir, I say 'not at all!'. Hearing these two top lines fairly regularly, as i do, I would in fact say that the boys are currently the stronger (although the girls are excellent too), and it seems to me to be extremely even handed of the music staff to give the girls their first opportunity under that circumstance - I believe that the policy is to rotate the top lines in terms of broadcasts.

    Personally, I loved the Moore pieces, and I think the McCabe would grow on me. That Howells organ piece is to me a masterpiece of orchestral-organ sculpture - lovely to hear it given such breadth.

    Well done to all!

    SHB
    Thank you to all at Guildflord and Well done, the young ladies! It sounded lovely, very warm and confident tone.
    I loved the Moore Introit and Canticles and for a first hearing, was rather taken by the McCabe piece. The word 'angular' described it very well I thought.
    Lovely Howells Mr Provost! One of my favourites that always moves me greatly and didn't fail this time either!

    Smashing effort all round and it was a pleasure to LA in the library.
    All best to everyone at Guildford. Liz

  2. #22
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    I got to listen today, and very much enjoyed the service. To me it felt very much as if I were sitting in one of the transepts, so to speak, and hearing a service rather than a broadcast, which for us is what CE ought to be.

    [There is discussion to be had as to whether, with boys' choirs available, we should hear girls' choirs - but maybe another thread best for that. I'd be interested to know the ages of the girls, though: some mature-sounding voices were there.]

    I thought they did a great job, with the introit very well worth hearing for the first time. I also enjoyed the anthem - so that's two positives and one negative so far, for HM's new music book!

    But as regards
    Quote Originally Posted by DracoM View Post

    Voluntary - just seemed like an aimless drift. Never thought I'd ever write that about anything by Howells, but.....couldn't put my finger on it. Pace? registration?
    I don't think there was anything wrong with either pace or registration. As far as I could tell, it was spot on - in fact, a truly beautiful rendition of one of Howells' most sublime and perfect organ works. Many thanks, Paul Provost.

    ^*^*^*^*^*^

    btw if Stephen Farr drops in to read this, hope you are OK, Stephen. I well recall our musical discussions - and arguments! - five years ago on the old boards before you left Guildford. Best wishes!

  3. #23
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    [QUOTE=Simon;142130]

    [There is discussion to be had as to whether, with boys' choirs available, we should hear girls' choirs - but maybe another thread best for that. I'd be interested to know the ages of the girls, though: some mature-sounding voices were there.]

    QUOTE]

    There is no discussion. It is as simple as that. And a little research would have given you the information about the girls ages (11-18). Also, I have worked with boy choristers who have had voices around that mature, 'mezzo' quality (and I don't mean with breaking voices either).

    PV

  4. #24
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    Apologies for failing to quote correctly. PV

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by pienavoce View Post
    There is no discussion. It is as simple as that.
    In view of what is written at the end of the third paragraph of message 18 above, I wholeheartedly agree.

  6. #26
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    It was inevitable that when cathedrals started girls' choirs they would eventually be given a full share of the services including broadcasts.

    As Simon has hinted, and many feared, the boys are slowly but surely being squeezed out of their traditional role as the main top line of the choir in these places.

    Also the DoM at Guildford has rather given a hostage to fortune by having a policy of rotating the top lines. It may seem fair but I should have thought that in view of the unreliability of boys' voices it would be better to use the boys for broadcasts in any year when their voices are good enough and the girls when she can't rely so much on the boys. To stick rigidly to using the boys and girls every other year or so may well give her some difficulties in my opinion.

    VCC.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by StagHillBill View Post
    To those who might, for some curious reason, be concerned that the broadcasting of the girl's choir could be a mask to a failing boys choir, I say 'not at all!'.
    I'm fairly new to posting on these forums, and I'm sorry to wade into slightly treacherous waters on what was meant to be a discussion of a particular broadcast, but as the conversation has already veered this way: I have to admit that I'm always a bit baffled when a broadcast by a cathedral's girl choristers elicits such worry over the state of the boys' line. While I'm absolutely sympathetic to the need to give interested boys opportunities to sing (particularly at this level and particulalry in a cathedral setting), and while I understand just how much emotional/cultural investment many people have in hearing boy choristers specifically, I don't completely grasp why a cathedral's girls performing almost automatically suggests doom and gloom for its boys. Based on what I've heard, the boys sound just wonderful!

    Why should the girls doing well and broadcasting imply that the boys are doing poorly and being purposely hidden away? If the girls from a foundation with two treble lines are broadcasting, why should we assume that it's anything more or less than the girls taking their turn? This is perhaps only more true at places like Guildford, where Wednesdays are generally dumb days and the DoM, faced with a broadcast slot, needn't fret over the choice to broadcast/not to broadcast with the regular Wednesday choir.

    To paraphrase an educator who's written a bit on the public anxiety over the 'boy crisis' in schools: good news about girls doing better does not mean—and shouldn't be presented as—bad news about boys doing worse. Boys and girls don't exist in stark indirect proportion, and to pretend—and to reinforce to children, directly or indirectly—that the interests and achievements of one group are in such contrast to the interests and achievements of the other is, I think, unhelpful and even a bit dangerous to the children who are or would be involved.

    Anyway. Well done to the girls at Guildford on the occasion of their first broadcast, and may they go from strength to strength!

  8. #28
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    It seems there are those who wilfully misunderstand what a Cathedral Choir is, and is for. It is a vehicle for performing the liturgies in what are essentially religious communities of a sort. It is NOT a merely museum piece for the preservation of what once was. Now, that in no way implies the degeneration of boys' choirs. What is currently happening is in fact a diversification and opening up of opportunity.

    I do not know a single person in the business of Cathedral music who is not committed to the success of children's singing, meaning all children. The extensive outreach work which goes on is testament to that, and is playing a large part in ensuring the continuity of what is a fine cultural masterpiece. There is simply no question of boys or girls being squeezed out. It is also inappropriate to use forums such as these to offer (amateur) opinions to those who are the professionals.

    Furthermore, it is extremely damaging to the future of Cathedral music when people use their misogynistic views in place of educated opinion and even fact.

    I shall now return to doing something more productive!

    PV

  9. #29
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    Well said, terratogen!

    PV

  10. #30
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    < extremely damaging to the future of Cathedral music when people use their misogynistic views in place of educated opinion and even fact. >

    [a] you make the mistake of assuming that contributors to this forum are 'amateurs' and not in possession of 'educated opinion'. In fact. many who contribute here are indeed now in or have been in the profession, and from much experience, I would suggest that many are more knowledgeable than a good many of the 'professionals'. You may not like what they say, and I can share some of those sentiments, but here there is a wide spectrum of agreement and disagreement - and I would humbly advise against such sweeping bromides.

    [b] For something like 700 years, cathedral music has been sung by male voices of different ages. I would hazard that before as recently as the 1980's or even later, most cathedral choirs continued to be boy-led. Girl-led choirs were and even now still are relatively rare in leading cathedral worship on as regular a basis as hitherto, while, ironically beyond the cloister, girls/women have been singing such music for a very long time, and on CD, FAR more [most?] of the well-known and not so well-known choirs for all manner of commercial /social reasons are women-led.

    [c] I think some posters are making the point on The Choir that despite their relative scarcity, girl-led cathedral choirs seem to have proportionately rather more exposure in broadcast CE than their actual numbers in cathedrals might seem to justify. And it is undeniable that over the last decade, foundations to whom previously the question of who would lead CE would never have occurred to them when approached by Revd Shipley and his team now regularly represent themselves by their girl-led choirs - again for a variety of reasons. In a number of foundations, boys appear to get LESS chance to appear on radio for all manner of reasons - eg last time we heard the boys exclusively on top line at Wells / Salisbury? I'm sure more regular stats gatherers than me might want to point to others.

    [d] it is a truism to observe that DoMs need continuity, and that boys' voices are by their very nature not long-lasting. It is understandable that some DoMs might well feel that they have greater and more reliable longevity in girls' voices in planning / encompassing the burgeoning demands of services. Mixing boys and girls voices may seem like an ideal solution and the way forward.

    [e] BUT it is another weary truism that boys are already under some [ many would say a hell of a lot of! ] peer pressure not to sing treble, and spend long hours practicing / singing etc. Some boys get to feeling cut off from what many of their peers beyond the cloisters are doing. If their voices are changing around 11/12/13 [used to be 13/14], then it is observable fact that unless they go to a dedicated choir school, at age 11/12, the change of schools makes the decision for them to 'stop' being a treble. Many can actually go on singing treble very well indeed for a number of years after but they will never let it be heard to be so n in public!

    [f] Sport for many boys is a more alluring pastime and encouraged by massive media coverage a mighty force in bonding boys in a way that does not generally happen to girls. 12-16 yr olds are desperate 'to belong' and if most of their peers are sports rather than music crazy, then that is the way they go, even if their musical gifts are great. If on top of that, the cathedral foundations regularly 'rotate' front lines in major services eg BBC CE, then boys can start to think the game not worth the candle, and just slide below the radar. I have seen exactly that happen. For a boy with a treble singing life of say four or perhaps five years, to get two shots of singing in broadcasts in that time rather than five can be discouraging. Yes, yes, of course I know it should be AMDG etc etc, but boys are boys. They like leading, being made to feel they are contributing by being seen to contribute. Thus if they think that they are second best because girls have more reliable voices, OR in a mixed top line fewer of them get a chance to sing in broadcasts, then they will simply drift away, find other attractions, not make as much effort, and it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that there are and indeed will be fewer boys singing in broadcast cathedral choirs than heretofore.

    I think at the moment, we are on the cusp of change, hence the squeals of protest, dismay, regret and nostalgia. BUT it would be very, very simplistic to dismiss such as misogyny. Boys make an indisputably unique sound, have kinks and quirks / richnesses of texture in their voices that composers have exploited for centuries in writing for / hearing in their mind's ear. That sound has thrilled millions down the centuries. Dismay that that huge legacy may be passing is for me completely understandable, and has little do with misogyny per se.

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