CE Chester Cathedral 11th July 2012
CE Chester Cathedral
Chester Summer Music Festival
Order of Service:
Introit: These Three (Richard Rodney Bennett - Choirbook for the Queen)
Psalms: 59, 60, 61 (Cook, Kelway, Fisher)
First Lesson: Isaiah 26: 1-9
Canticles: The Chester Service (first broadcast) / Francis Pott
Second Lesson: Romans 8: 12-27
Anthem: Blest Pair of Sirens (Parry)
Final Hymn: All praise to thee (Engelberg)
Organ Voluntary: Allegro Marziale (Bridge)
Benjamin Chewter ( Assistant Director of Music )
Philip Rushforth ( Director of Music)
Here are some details about the choirs from Chester's own website:
In short, no choir school; boys 8 until voice break; girls up to 18; six lay clerks plus choral scholars. Might one hope, given the scale of Blest Pair of Nylons, that they are using combined forces for the broadcast? Any inside info will I'm sure be welcomed by followers of The Choir forum.
A lovely choice of music with interesting new Pott (Mag more impressive than Nunc, I thought) and scrummy R.R. Bennett. Chester's Romantic beast of an organ did what it does best throughout, including psalm accompaniment and as 'orchestra' in the Parry. Good to know there is a high standard of music at Chester. It would be good to hear from someone who was there/took part?
I heard this service on the way home from work. I didn't know what was coming, so I was both delighted and surprised whe Blest Pair of Sirens was announced. They didn't do badly, though I thought the choir sounded rather small.
Yes, Blest Pair is a tough call for a smallish choir. (I noticed the first tenor entry "and to our high raised fantasy present" had a narrow squeak...but, hey, it's usually sung by about 600). I know Draco is temporarily 'off duty' so I feel like stepping into his shoes and saying, 'didn't anyone else listen to the broadcast?'
You say 'usually' but I have the impression that Blest Pair has rather fallen out of the choral society repertoire, and nowadays most performances of it are in Cathedral/major church services. I'm willing to be corrected on this - maybe up North (for example) things are different?
It does seem to have gone out of fashion somewhat. I sang it as an 11-year-old treble (several choirs combined) and adored it for its wacky words and good tunes. Ironically I hadn't made the link that 'words and music' were the eponymous Blest Pair. I still think it's an odd piece to use as an anthem, but then in the dear old C of E anything goes. IMO it is greatly enhanced by the presence of a symphony orchestra. The organ reduction, however well played...as it was on Wednesday.....doesn't begin to capture the colour of the piece.
I too first encountered Blest Pair as a 12-yo treble, ardcarp, along with 300 or so other young singers and the CBSO under Rudolf Schwarz in the early 1950s. I too discovered only later who those two blessed sirens were. But I always threw myself at the words "jarred against nature's chime, and with harsh din".....and it's coloured my musical taste ever since, I think. Nothing like a dramatically jarring harsh din, say I, especially if it includes the juicy minor second that Parry didn't need!
Originally Posted by ardcarp
I thought Chester gave us a fine service this week: the music was interesting, and the choir did well with it. But I hesitate these days to comment on CE in detail. Discussion too easily turns sour, and mention of certain aspects of cathedral singing can bring down on one's head a shed-load of disapprobation from fellow-boarders.
John Milton, in his place in the hereafter, is no doubt tickled pink (celestially speaking) by that description of his words as 'wacky'.
I loved it and have no criticisms to make! I thought they produced a splendidly full sound and I've always adored that H&H, especialy the rich flues. Great, fruity psalms (singing and playing). From where is that 'through-composed' rich accomp. of Engelberg available, anyone? The Bridge is an underplayed tour de force and taken at the perfect pace here. I'm buzzing from the whole show - apols, service!
Originally Posted by ardcarp