Choral Society is not a choir or a club. We've all heard about High society, the café society and so on, which identify people collectively who share a common interest. There exists amongst singers a bond which identifies and unites them in the same way. So this web-site is a WebMag for choral singers who are passionate about their singing. If you’d like to contribute an article, please tell the Web-master
1. Norah Day, The Planets, Gustav Holst.
News about this site, May 2019
A bit of site history.
CHORAL SOCIETY WebMag is on Facebook. Like or Not Like?
Choral Society I have temporarily lost Admin Rights. Use the Group below.
The site receives over 35,000-40,000 hits per month! With this level of traffic, it is mutually beneficial to have reciprocal links. Please tell your web-master. This site is changing and developing as a result of your input and my self-indulgent additions!
Here’s a list of contributors’ Facebooks.
Let me know if you would like to be added. There is not enough room to list individuals excepting composers, soloists, accompanists, conductors, etc.
Slots seeking singers
If you need singers or you are a mélomane and can’t (or don’t want to) stop singing, you’ll find “The Choral Agency” on Facebook very useful
Looking for a choir or
Frequently I am asked by singers where can they find a choir. The best answer is to try these sources first.
It is difficult to answer the question put by new singers. I advise them to try any local choir. If that choir doesn’t suit, most singers are helpful and will suggest others. It is also a good idea to go to a few choral concerts
If you are a choir then make sure you are listed on these web-sites..
See the Composers & Performers page.
Here is a new app for the iphone to help you become note-perfect! Click this link to learn about Learn my part.
You can click on FEEDBACK to send me a message but e-mail is quicker.
Archives from 2007 to 2011 can now be found under Links & Archives.
Please, please give this site a link to yours. It is mutually beneficial. If you want a logo, right-click to download and save here. Please make the link to this site simply as
Here’s something interesting; a site called Helping You Harmonise. It is all about Liz Garnett and what she as a professional musician, can offer singers. In her own words “Helping You Harmonise offers ideas to help choral directors and singers in vocal ensembles to rehearse and perform more effectively.” We now have reciprocal links because we both feel that we can benefit one another. Take a look. It’s an interesting site. www.helpingyouharmonise.com
BBC Performing Arts Fund, a charity that was set up within the BBC in 2003 to help everyone achieve their musical ambitions, from choirs, hip hop artists and musical theatre performers to folk musicians. Since its inception the fund has awarded over £3m to aspiring musicians, performers and groups across a range of genres through funding instruments, training and development. To learn more about what the fund does and how you can apply, visit the website
Tired of singing the same old thing? Want something different?
Write your own
One of many useful contributions from Brian Maskell is this. He has used NoteWorthy Scriptorium to prepare electronic versions of pieces for himself and fellow choristers are learning. He says it is a very versatile tool and fantastic value for money. He adds, “I am not on commission!”
John Hooper is a like-minded singer, musician and doer of all the sort of things which would interest you. The title of his site is "John's (downloadable) Midi File Choral Music".Go to www.learnchoralmusic.co.uk where there are lots of Midi Files that might be of assistance to Choral Singers far and wide. Also very good advice on how to play midi files and what NOT to expect when you play them. He has a new web-site which I don’t find the easiest to use!
The Silver Programme is a part of the overall Sage Learning & Participation Programme. It provides a wide variety of daytime musical activities for the over 50s, including singing. There are sessions at Sage Gateshead and elsewhere in the North East. Participants work with experienced and accessible tutors. Through workshops and performances the Silver Programme expands the current and dormant skills as well as encouraging new ones in Rock, Folk, Americana, Skiffle, Bluegrass, Mandolin, Guitar, Wind, and much more visit here to see what is on offer.
Silver Singers is a community Choir for anyone over 50 who likes to sing. The material is a mix of world music, popular songs, folk songs, spirituals, Geordie songs, anything from Cole Porter to Annie Lennox!, Silversmiths: Blues, jazz, gospel.
Silver Breves: Classical music singing group seeking a challenge. Elizabethan madrigals to contemporary settings of religious works. Silver Chorus: Auditioned SATB choir with a mixed repertoire of show tunes, pop, folk, classical, world and gospel. Solo opportunities within choral arrangements.
Mood Indigo and Project Singing which are audition only ensembles.
Von Herzen –
Crouch End Festival Chorus is inviting composers of all styles and traditions to submit an original setting of these words for unaccompanied choir The winning entry will be premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London this October, alongside Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. The competition is open to all UK-resident composers, regardless of experience. Entries must not be longer than five minutes and must not have been previously performed. The closing date for entries is 1 May 2019. The winner will be decided by a panel of judges led by CEFC’s Music Director David Temple MBE and including the renowned composer Debbie Wiseman OBE.
You must use “Von Herzen – möge es wieder – zu Herzen gehen!” or, in English, “From the heart - may it return to the heart!”
It is also permissible to set a translation of these words in any other language. No other text may be used.
Full details can be found here ____________________________________
Plan something new for Christmas 2019
Encore Publications has introduced me to June Nixon’s attractive arrangement of The Holly and the Ivy, based on a traditional French tune. This was featured in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast on BBC radio from King's College, Cambridge, last Christmas Eve. Her carol was also included in the traditional televised celebration, Carols from King's. Interestingly it is in a minor key finishing with a major cadence. You can hear it on YouTube here This is with organ accompaniment but the composer’s orchestral version is available from the publisher.
You might also consider some new works by Canon Chris Chivers. Diptych, God made a Garden, The Kohima Epitaph and Ubi Caritas et Amor. Thet are written for unaccompanied voices. His son, also Chris, has written Born in a Stable, a carol for unaccompanied mixed voices. If you go here, you will some some sample pages of the scores as a pdf. You can buy the scores from Tim Rogers of Encore.
There is always something going on at Canterbury Cathedral.
The weekend will also include a classic car display, the chance to get up close and personal with Birds of Prey, Dover Beekeepers’ Association and a workshop for families run by The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral.
Graffiti in the Cathedral
Stained Glass Talks
Talks by Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, Professor Vincent Lloyd and Professor Ben Quash and Dr Michelle Fletcher will take place on 1 May, 8 May and 15 May respectively.
Cathedral Constable Attestation
Read the Canterbury Cathedral Newsletter here
Concert venues in the North East
I have been asked whether I know of any concert venues in the North East other than The Sage Gateshead! Here are some I know.
Newcastle City Hall This has a very fine Harrison & Harrison organ which is in need of money for restoration. Pics here soon.
Please send your suggestions and details of your gigs. There is loads of music in the North East, choral in particular.
Who will be the popular composers
Often this is related to birth and death dates. Here are some to consider. Berlioz, Offenbach, Bernstein, Leopold Mozart, Loosemoore, Hassler and Richard Ayleward. Suggestions on a postcard please :-)
Are your concerts a sell-out?
Rupert Street talks to Di Masters, former Publicity Manager of Ashtead Choral Society and discovers that it Pays to be Pushy.
Remember the Easton Rabble Chorus?
Fancy a trip to Ipswich? Easton Rabble Chorus’ repertoire is very eclectic. Folk songs, 'pop' songs by bands like Divine Comedy and the Kinks, world music, songs from musicals and the odd bit of classical for special occasions eg. Really Big Chorus events. Basically they perform whatever their MD, Kirsty Logan, feels will work for the voices and has time to arrange! Take a look on YouTube here to see a choir really enjoying themselves.
Do you ever complain and wish somebody would listen?
There was an interesting item on Radio 4’s Today programme which I followed up. There is a complaints organisation called Complaints Choirs Worldwide here and if you want a bit of fun, go to this item on YouTube. The things which people complain about (up with this I will not put) transcend nationalities and geographical boundaries. Why not compose your own piece and I will post it on this site
Test your hearing. Something to make you listen
When I started learning the violin at the age of seven, I learned that all pianos are out of tune! To the violinist’s ear, you heard a 5th etc as perfect intervals. It wasn’t my ear! Some years later I discovered ‘The Scope of Music’ by Sir Percy Buck (he taught me harmony and composition). Like all of his books, it is easy to understand and is fairly compulsive reading. Here is an extract with an experiment you might like to try.
"A musical sound has three characteristics: pitch, intensity, and quality. We have discussed pitch and intensity, and I now want to tell you how your ear distinguish between two sounds of different quality.
It may surprise you to know that, just as nearly everything we have ever tasted is a combination of certain elements which a chemist could analyse, so almost every sound you have ever heard, even when you thought it was a single note, is a combination of other sounds. If you would like to train your ears I beg you, when you get home, go to the piano and strike the C which is two leger lines below the bass stave. Strike it hard several times, holding it down the last time, and listen attentively until it is almost inaudible. After a very few trials - possibly the first time - you will notice there is another note sounding strongly, the G in the top space of the bass stave. After a few more trials you will plainly hear the E on the bottom line of the treble stave. You will then have discovered a fact known for ages to men of science, viz. that a note is almost invariably a combination of sounds. These various sounds which combine to form a note are called the ‘Partial Tones’ of that note, which is itself called the ‘Fundamental Partial’.” Read the full section here.
Treat yourself to a book
When I had the pleasure of meeting Poppy Holden recently in Newcastle, she introduced me to “How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony”. This is a fascinating book written by Ross Duffin who is a Professor of Music. After reading this you might wonder whether you are always singing out of tune!
Advice for conductors. “Wave your arms until the music stops then turn round
Wondering what to buy as a present? Try this one for yourself. Lev Parikian, the joint author of WAVING NOT DROWNING was telling me that choral singers should not read Chapter 20. Or did he say Chapter 21? Anyway, find out for yourself. It costs £5.85 on Amazon or the Kindle Edition for £1.97
"A revolutionary exposure of the conductor's darkest hours, ... painfully perceptive. Read it!" - Sir Neville Marriner
"Brilliant.. a must for any would-be conductor of an orchestra, electricity or a bus...!”
- Sir Ronald Harwood
A must for all-year reading is this...
Boy choristers have sung the liturgy in English cathedrals for fourteen hundred years. Until now, their history has never been written. The author Alan Mould takes you from the Middle Ages, through the upheavals of The Reformation, Georgian neglect to the Victorian revival to the present day. Buy from www.continuumbooks.com or £16.11 (pencil not included) on Amazon
How do you score?
Recently I had to return hired scores to their owner. When I cleaned them up, it was very interesting to see singers' markings. Of the thirty copies, four had no markings at all. Only two-and-a-bit marked the next note overleaf. Altos were the most prolific writers. The parts with most Big Breaths marked were the sops. One score had the corner of every page turned over excepting the covers (ugh!).
Men scored lower than the ladies but then they don't read maps, they don't ask for help when they are lost and they don't turn round. Mind you, ladies can only read maps upside down so perhaps they need more markings. It was pleasing to see that nobody had used a ball-point or a yellow highlighter (double-ugh!). Wonderfully, all scores were returned. Make your comments on FaceBook or e-mail Web-master.
Jill Davies has been a regular contributor since 2009 when she took over Concert Directory International. This Artist Agency had been run for 30 years by Cathy Scott, who Jill met on a visit to Ilkley Choral Society in 2011. Jill observed that Cathy "obviously had an ear for a good voice". She built up CDI from nothing. Jill read music at Manchester University and has worked in the classical music business for nearly 30 years; she has extensive experience of providing soloists for choral society concerts and understands the problems. So give her your problem rather than trying to solve it yourself! For further information please visit Davies Music or contact Jill on 01684 850112 or email@example.com
Davies Music also represents the London Handel Orchestra and QuintEssential Sackbuts & Cornetts who can provide specialist accompaniment for baroque music concerts.
Do you bother to look at the Composers’ & Performers’ Page?
If you do you will have seen the new entry for Nicola Hooke. She is coloratura soprano with a broad repertoire who studied at Trinity College of Music. I used to work next door when it was still in Mandeville Place! If you are a professional singer and would like to be added to the page, please e-mail me.
Bin the Bechstein, Yamaha and Clav. Use a Virtual Keyboard to get your note.
Here is something you can use on your PC.
You can use your mouse to play the notes or you can use you computer keyboard. Try a link on your mobile.
Here’ s another VirtualPiano.net