December 2013When a friend knew we were rehearsing Lux Aeterna by the American composer, Morten Lauridsen (born 1943), he asked, “What is it like?” That’s a question which is always difficult to answer and one often likens one work to another work or composer to give an idea. On first listening to the music the word “mystical” came to mind and also a reminder of the Requiem by Duruflé which the Choral Society performed a couple of years ago. This feeling is supported by the programme notes which Lauridsen has written on http://www.peermusicclassical.com in which he talks of his homage to Gregorian chant and Renaissance Music. Unlike Duruflé he doesn’t use a specific chant but his flowing melodic lines and what he describes as “chant-like phrase structures” create a mood of serenity and lyricism.During this term’s rehearsals we have become aware of the evolution of the composer’s musical ideas, ideas heard in the first movement are used throughout the work. The overall structure is arch shaped with the centre movement being in a lilting triple rhythm which Lauridsen describes as being “outgoing and joyous” after which the return to the reflective, mystical mood is very satisfying.Although the composer gives details of the devices he has adopted from Renaissance composers they are so skilfully used that one is not overtly aware of them. Yes, we can tell when we are singing a canon and the pairing of voices is a familiar device used by Renaissance composers but we probably would not have noticed the use of the retrograde, which we learn is in the Agnus Dei, had the composer not thoughtfully pointed it out. It doesn’t matter whether one knows, or not, how the piece has been written the result is stunningly beautiful.We have learned to embrace the challenges of the piece, holding chords in which two adjacent voices are a semitone apart, keeping track of the time changes and maintaining the flowing melodic lines which create a lovely sense of timelessness and mysticism. All voices have interesting parts to sing, each has its own challenges. As a low Alto the eyebrows shot up to see we are expected to soar to a top G! While attempting this I had a clear image of my erstwhile harmony teacher giving me a look and tutting as he reached for the red pen, students are taught that choral altos are not expected to reach that high. However, all students of harmony know that rules are there to be broken, and in the case of “Lux “ they are broken to great effect.We do hope you will come and listen to this lovely work and the companion piece “O Magnum Mysterium” which is in a similar style. Also in the programme are organ solos and well known carols and Christmas Hymns, altogether promising to be a a most enjoyable evening. We are all looking forward to singing in a, for us, new venue – the Baptist Church in Tiverton.
….the Concert went really well and thank you and all those involved for making it such a happy event … (choir member)
….. the Lauridsen was the best piece they had heard us sing (audience)
Away in a Manger was heavenly (audience)
Another said the whole evening was very enjoyable.
Personally, I enjoyed all 3 events. I think Andrew did an amazing job … I was really lifted by the atmosphere especially as a very dear friend had passed on 2 days before. (choir member)
Comment from a friend (who had just lost her husband,): this is the first evening event I have been to for years and what a treat it was!! You were all fantastic and such an uplifting atmosphere. THANK YOU. (audience)
Great performance, fantastic atmosphere!! (audience)
The Baptist Church is a lovely venue (choir member and audience)
SWING HIS PRAISES in EXETER CATHEDRAL
The atmosphere at the Concert was beyond description and it was so good to see how much Andrew was appreciated after all his hard work. It was also great to see how the audience responded to the encore. I am not a jazz enthusiast but maybe am being converted! (Choir member)
I just wanted to drop you a line to say how much I enjoyed being part of your gig last night. If there is ever the chance to do it again, count me in! (Member of Band)
I had a ball! Absolutely loved it. One gentleman told me that I was enjoying myself far too much! I defy anyone to stand still. If Andrew wishes to put a message across with his beautiful music – he does so admirably and in a wonderful way. (Choir member)
THANKS TO ALL FOR SUCH A BRILLIANT EVENING! THERE WERE SOME EXQUISITE MOMENTS AND ANDREW’S MUSIC IS INSPIRATIONAL !! I AM TOTALLY HOOKED ON IT AND PLEASE PASS ON TO HIM HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS FOR THE FANTASTIC MUSIC AND SINGING AND JOY HE BRINGS TO US !! THANKS SO MUCH ..AND PLEASE KEEP ME POSTED ‘COS I WANT TO HEAR IT ALL OVER AGAIN AND SOME NEW PSALM SETTINGS FROM ANDREW!! HE HAS 150 TO GET THROUGH. (Audience member)
Wow! That was absolutely fabulous. I brought three members of my choir and we all enjoyed it so much. It is difficult to pick out a highlight – it was all wonderful but particularly the Psalms and I think 148 was the tops! (Audience member)
I loved it…. and sticking closely to Andrew’s brief; “if all else fails just look as if you’re enjoying yourself” wasn’t hard to do with such inspiring music and such a fantastic venue! (Choir member)
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved, even as a small cog – it was an amazing experience and great fun. (Choir member)
Thank you so much for a fantastic evening on Saturday. It was a complete delight. The standing ovation and encore were richly deserved! Andrew’s talent seems to have no bounds.
Just to say how much we both enjoyed singing in the concert on Saturday. We got the same sort of buzz as we did from singing in the Verdi.
Saturday was tremendous! Congratulations. The sight of the audience in the wholenave with hands clapping and bodies swaying was inspiring – I was so overcome that I couldn’t sing for a bit! (Choir member)
Congratulations to all …. I think a few cobwebs were shifted in the cathedral roof ! (Audience member)
Your music was a pleasure to play and very sensitively written, to give the band interesting and exciting parts which enhanced and supported the vocal lines superbly. I thought the concert was excellent. (Band member)
A line to say how much we enjoyed the brilliant Concert last Saturday. The enthusiasm shown by the Choir, AJ’s Big Band and the Vocalist was infectious to say the least. It must have been especially pleasing for Andrew to see the Cathedral full, that’s quite an achievement and a wonderful tribute to his very considerable talents and efforts in drawing the whole Concert together! (Audience member)
On one of the hottest days of the year the Choir presented a concert of Jazz items with soloist Kay Octigan, who is a member of the choir, and a Jazz Quartet, all under the direction of our conductor, Andrew Daldorph. The band consisted of Andrew Daldorph (piano), Chris Gradwell (Saxophone), Andrew Barrett (Guitar) and Chris Gray (Double Bass).
The first half of the programme consisted of songs from “Feel the Spirit” by John Rutter interspersed with instrumental items. The three band items, Gershwins’s ‘S Wonderful, Hoagy Carmichael’s Startdust and Corcovado by Jobim, were beautifully played and Kay Octigan’s upbeat version of Summertime (Gershwin) was very well received. The choir’s performances of the Rutter items were much appreciated by the audience.
The second half of the programme was a performance of our conductor’s Jazz Psalms. Of these the setting of words from Psalm 57, “O for a closer walk with Thee” with Kay as the soloist was a particular favourite. The setting of words from Psalm 51 “Have Mercy” was very moving and the quote from Allegri’s Miserere a most effective moment. A charming touch was a short dance performed by George and Imogen Daldorph during one of the instrumental “breaks”.
“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Kay sing; she has great depth to her voice.”
“Kay Octigan had just the right voice for the performance.”
“My daughter and granddaughter came reluctantly, they don’t particularly like Jazz, and LOVED the concert and thought Andrew was so clever to write the work.”
“Andrew’s children were wonderful – what a brilliant idea to get them involved!”
“I thought there was a good balance between singing and the band.”
“I preferred the choral items.”
“The last item was a bit too long and repetitive.”
“An excellent concert.”