I'm very excited about the opportunity to perform with the Tallis Scholars later this week.
I'm one of 30 singers recruited from around Dublin to join the choir in the performance of the 40-part piece Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis.
I've only sung Spem in Alium once in the past, as part of a scratch performance put together for my 40th birthday. Because, what else would you do for a 40th birthday, but get together all of your singer friends and sing a 40-part anthem? It wasn't the most technically accurate performance in the world (I, for one, was making tons of mistakes), but it was a heck of a lot of fun – and if you fancy watching the video, stay for the amazing rendition of Happy Birthday at the end!
The prospect of singing such a piece with the Tallis Scholars, in contrast, is a pretty intimidating. They are one of the best professional choirs out there, and tour all over the world to sell out audiences. And I've volunteered to sing – one to a part – so there's no hiding at the back!
I'm sure it'll go very well. The rehearsal last week was sounding really good, and I came out of that really excited.
Yesterday saw me hang up my choir robes for the last time, as I “retired” from the choir of Christ Church Cathedral.
I first joined the choir in 2007, and in the intervening 8 years I’ve had the privilege to be involved in very exciting things: TV and radio broadcasts, tours, ordinations, consecrations, enthronements, presidential visits, ecumenical services, concerts, and carol services. I’ve sung in more services than I can count, with some amazing singers and talented musicians.
It’s been a great experience which will leave me with treasured memories and lifelong friendships.
However, all good things must come to an end. A while ago I came to the decision that I wanted to lessen my commitments. The choir takes up Thursday evening, and all day on Sunday – which is quite a lot of time, on top of a full-time job. I’m also concious that being in the choir restricts what we can plan to do as a couple on weekends and special occasions such as Christmas.
So, I’m taking a break from singing. It might be for a short time. It might be for a long time. I don’t know how I’ll feel in 6 or 12 months time, but for now I’m looking forward to enjoying the extra free time.
The choir are expanding their numbers to 18 Lay Vicars and 4 Choral Scholars, and offer the unique opportunity of professional singing roles for adult Sopranos, Altos (both male and female), Tenors and Basses. The choir currently sing three services a week on a Thursday evening and on Sunday – and the role can easily be combined with a full-time job.
Had a very successful and enjoyable Christmas carol concert at Christ Church Cathedral last night with the cathedral choir. The concert sold-out several weeks back, and I’m reliably informed by someone “in the know” that we could have sold the concert three times over! Those who did get a ticket were treated to a very nicely balanced programme of carols, topped off by a rousing rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
I’m also back in Christ Church on Saturday night with the Mornington Singers for another carol concert called Noël. That’s also selling well, although there are a few tickets left. The Morningtons were also out singing carols last night in Phibsborough, by all accounts to a delighted crowd.
Then on Sunday the cathedral has it’s service of Five Lessons and Carols, a slightly shorter version of the fully carol service. The full diocesan Nine Lessons and Carols is on Monday, but that’s a ticket-only affair, and I suspect they’re all gone!
And so, as you can imagine, I’ve got Christmas carols coming out of my ears at the moment. But do you know what, I don’t care, because they’re great fun to sing – and really help me get into the festive holiday spirit.
As we near the end of October, so begins the rush of musical activity towards Christmas. This year is by no means the most busy I’ve been, but I wanted to quantify (even if just for myself) all the upcoming performances over the next two months:
Thursday 1st November – Mass for All Saints Day at Christ Church Cathedral
Friday 2nd November –Fauré Requiem Concert with the Mornington Singers in Corpus Christi Church Drumcondra
Saturday 24th November – Pillars of Heaven – the main winter concert for the Mornington Singers in Christ Church Cathedral
Sunday 2nd December – Advent Procession – a beautiful candle-lit service of Advent carols in Christ Church Cathedral
Thursday 13th December – Cathedral Choir Christmas Concert – always a very popular event in Christ Church Cathedral
Saturday 15th December – Noël! Christmas Concert – a selection of beautiful and well-loved Christmas Carols in Christ Church Cathedral
Sunday 16th December – Five Lessons and Carols – a shorter version of the traditional carol service
Monday 17th December – Nine Lessons and Carols – the official diocesan carol service – very popular and so free tickets required to get in
Monday 24th December – Midnight Mass
Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day Eucharist
This list doesn’t even include the ‘normal’ services and rehearsals I have in between, so I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to a rest in the New Year!