Sunday, 13 December 2009

'Bethlehem Down' Concert - St Paul's, Goodmayes

Immediately after the concert had finished I was approached by two members of the audience, neither of whom I knew.
The first commented
' It was refreshing to hear choral music delivered with exact and clear diction. I could hear every word being sung'
The second
' A meticulous delivery of some difficult music with an overall atmosphere of joy in being able to sing'
We should be proud of such comments, which is why I have lost no time in posting them...
there must be others out there to share with us...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

'Thames Link' Concert Review

My thanks to Madeline for forwarding the review which should have appeared in The Ilford Recorder last week, but failed to materialise for reasons unknown...........
thanks also for the positive and helpful comments on our music making

"The Valentine Singers, conducted by Christine Gwynne, presented an imaginative programme inspired by the River Thames at their concert at St. John’s Church, Buckhurst Hill, on Saturday.

‘Thames Link’ included works by composers connected with towns along the river from Oxford (Parry), through Reading (Finzi) to London, passing through Windsor Forest with Vaughan Williams, and Westminster with one of Handel’s Coronation Anthems. In between the choral items were readings – two extracts from Jerome K. Jerome’s humorous classic Three Men in a Boat, and a piece by Virginia Woolf.

It was ambitious to begin with unaccompanied works, but the Singers rose to the challenge. They were joined by Tim Smith at the piano for Vaughan Williams’ In Windsor Forest, producing some lively singing and a fine solo from Clare Gailans.

Handel’s My Heart is Inditing was accompanied by organ, oboe, trumpet and timpani. This created a problem. The organ is in the right transept; instrumentalists were in the left transept and there was a time-lag between the two. The choir, in the middle, sounded understandably a little unsure until everyone became accustomed to the acoustic. The moral of the story? Watch and follow the conductor, which is easier said than done!

Bob Chilcott’s Songs and Cries of London Town, brought the evening to a rousing conclusion and showed the Singers at their best. Jazzy rhythms in the outer movements were performed with panache, helped by a superb contribution from percussion and piano duet, and there was some lyrical singing in the slower movements. A most enjoyable performance. "

Madeline Seviour

Friday, 27 November 2009

'Bethlehem Down'

Having played our CD more than once now I consider that we can rightfully be proud of a fine quality product. Thanks to all involved but particularly to the part played by the sound engineers from Whipps Cross Hospital Radio - a superb job.
What we need to do now is to sell it to our friends, relatives and colleagues and to emphasise that many of the tracks can be heard live at our concert on Sat 12th at St. Paul's, Goodmayes.
Our CD has been sent to Classic FM radio and may well feature in their 'Full Works' programmes over the Christmas period - so watch out for more news.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Messiah at the Coliseum

I've just returned from the Dress rehearsal of English National Opera's staged Messiah at the London Coliseum, and can't really recommend it enough. If you are looking for a performance this is the one to choose I feel.
It's a staged performance, which means that there are actors, dancers and children as well as a 'community ensemble', and the chorus move around, but it is all very restrained and sympathetic to Jennen's libretto and Handel's music. The production, by Deborah Warner, enhances the narrative so that it seems to make more than usual sense. There is one gem of a scene in part one where a typical primary school nativity play is acted out in front of parents (the chorus) whilst a boy treble sings the 'There were shepherds abiding in the fields....' sequence. The crucifixion story in part two is most movingly portrayed
The music is directed by Laurence Cummings from the harpsicord and is fully up to the standards of the ENO. The solo quartet are of a high standard (not many Messiah soloists are expected to move and act whilst singing) and the chorus are superb, singing with tremendous clarity and expression.
For a different and meaningful take on Messiah, this is the one to watch.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Thames Link

Our concert this Saturday has the making of being something special so please encourage as many of your friends and relatives to come along and hear two relatively unknown works :-

Bob Chilcott's 'Songs and Cries of London Town' and
Vaughan Williams 'In Windsor Forest'

Mahler Symphony No 2 in C minor 'Resurrection'

As the Valentine Singers have the opportunity to take part in a performance of the this work next May, you may be interested to know that there is a performance in the Barbican at 3pm on Sunday 13th December, with
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam

Mariss Jansons conductor
London Symphony Chorus

Unfortunately that is the day of the Writtle Singers Christmas concerts, to which we shall all, no doubt, be going.

For further details see

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Allons! Valentine Singers go to Amiens in spring 2010. Staying and singing in Amiens, we shall also explore some other parts of the Somme area and we are very pleased to be giving a performance in the beautiful Eglise Notre Dame de Brébières in Albert.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

My Soul there is a country....

Driving home on Wednesday evening (23rd September) with Radio 3 on the car radio I thought "I know that" - it was Parry My soul there is a country, being sung as the introit to choral evensong from Chelmsford Cathedral. So if you want to practice or sing-a-long it will be available on the BBC iplayer for the next 7 days at It's also repeated on Sunday at 4pm on Radio 3. I have since learnt that two members of the Writtle Singers were singing in the service.

The concluding organ voluntary was also a piece by Parry - the March from The Birds of Aristophanes, Parry wrote this bridal march in 1883 as part of his incidental music to Aristophanes' play The Birds for a performance in Cambridge. It was scored for saxophone octet. This organ version was arranged by Sir Walter Alcock (1861 - 1947) who was organist at Chichester Cathedral from 1916 until his death, and had the unique distinction of playing the organ at Westminster Abbery for three coronations - Edward VII, George V and George VI.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

This is how you can get involved with this Blog

Check the Blog
Firstly check the blog from time to time. I am afraid that you will not always be informed of new entries. and select View Blog

Make a comment
You can make a comment about an existing entry. You will have to sign up to Blogger for this. If you try to make an entry this will automatically help you through the simple sign-up process.

If you wish to contribute to the Blog by uploading an article, pictures etc. you need to become an author. Please let me know if you would like to do this and I will grant you permission (that sounds very powerful doesn’t it!) Once you have permission it is straightforward to contribute articles.

Someone has to be the arbiter of good taste and practice and at the moment that is me too (even more powerful…I like this game!) So if you don’t like what you read please let me know.

Take control
Finally I have set up the Blog for everyone to use. If anyone would like to take it on as their particular project PLEASE let me know!

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Thomas John Barnardo thanksgiving service

Valentine Singers were very please to provide the vocal music for the Barnardo’s thanksgiving service that was held on 15 September 2009 in the church at the traditional home of Barnardo’s in Barkingside.
Despite heavy rain!! there was a fine representation from the choir to sing Pitoni: Cantate Domino and Schubert: Sanctus from the Deutsche Messe, and support the singing of the hymns.

A little of the history of the site and the church
Barnardo and his wife, Syrie, were given a home in Barkingside, Essex, as a wedding gift, where he created a 60-acre village with the vision of creating a way of life for destitute children that resembled village life. In 1876 on the 9th July, The Girls Village Home was officially opened with 12 cottages by the then Lord Cairns. In the same year a modern steam laundry was opened. Over the years the number of cottages grew to a total of 66 in 1906 housing some 1,300 girls which was spread over the three Village greens covering some 60 acres which was next to Mossford Lodge at Barkingside, Ilford, Essex that had been opened in 1873; by 1894 a multi-denominational Children's Church was opened with a dedication service.

Inditing indeed!

The effort to understand the psalmist who uttered "My heart is inditing" has begun to excite a number of choir members. I thought you might like to see these splendid and rather erudite offerings...

From Barbara F "I was sure I knew the word 'indite' from when I studied the Canterbury Tales for A level. There's a character in the prologue who could not only compose tunes ' and eke indite' (and also write the words.)
Sure enough it's in the OED. To indite means 'to put into words' or 'to compose' (e.g. a speech, a poem etc.)"

And from Laura P "According to the OED online, the verb to indite comes from Middle English endyte which means to tell (a story) or compose (a story or a song) - Chaucer uses it for this purpose in the Canterbury Tales.

Bibles in English use endyte or indite up to the King James version from which Handel got his text. However, the Latin text uses eructare - to vomit (!) - and the Hebrew translates as 'bubble up' - hence modern translations say things like 'my heart overflows'.

I'm not sure why they are so different, presumably Biblical scholarship develops over time and the newer translations will be more accurate. But anyway Handel's version means 'my heart is telling a tale about a good subject'. The word would have been fairly archaic by 1702 but maybe that would have added to the solemnity of the occasion.

Barbara has kindly clarified some other mysteries, too:

"Thornbacks are edible fish from the ray family ( a bit like skate but more spiny).

Peascods are pea-pods - i.e. peas in their shells.

Nard is an aromatic balsam of the ancients - also known as spikenard. It comes in the story of Jesus being anointed for his burial in Bethany John's Gospel chapter 12 verse 3. (also Mark 14.3 & Matthew26.7)"

I hope you're all feeling much better informed now. :-) Many thanks to Barbara and Laura

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Valentine Singers Blog!

Welcome tothe new Blog for Valentine Singers