Aldeburgh Music’s Friday Afternoons is an international singing project which started in 2013 to celebrate the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten. That year in Nottingham, the Cathedral Youth Choir led a group of other young local singers in a performance of Britten’s collection of 12 songs (entitled ‘Friday Afternoons’) with the Nottingham Youth Orchestra in the Nottingham Albert Hall, on the composer’s birthday, Friday 22 November.
Each year since, Aldeburgh Music has commissioned composers to write new songs to encourage young singers to engage with high quality yet accessible music. In 2016, composer Jonathan Dove wrote a new set of songs entitled ‘Seasons & Charms’ which formed the basis of this project. Thanks to funding from Aldeburgh Music, the Cathedral Music department was able to run a singing project with local schools to encourage good singing technique whilst learning songs from ‘Seasons & Charms’. After an initial CPD session for school teachers, each school received a singing workshop with Alex Patterson, assisted by one of our Choral Scholars, Grace Bale, before coming together on Friday 10 March 2017 at the Cathedral for the final sharing event.
Over 200 young children took part in the project with each school performing at least one song on their own, some presenting ‘creative responses’ to their chosen song, and all coming together for three songs which had the children singing in up to four parts.
We are extremely grateful to the staff and students of Edale Rise, Our Lady’s and St Edwards, St Margaret Clitherow, St Patrick’s, Becket, Christ the King and Trinity Schools for engaging so thoroughly with the project and making the project such a success. Appetite is strong for a similar venture in the future and the Cathedral hopes to facilitate this going forward. We are also thrilled that four young new young singers have joined our Cathedral Youth Choir as a direct result of this project.
We were saddened to hear about the passing of two remarkable women earlier this year, both staunch supporters of the Cathedral Choir.
Joan Sales (14 October 1918 - 16 March 2017) was a member of Our Lady’s Young Singers (pictured), who led the singing at the 10am Mass, before going on to join the Cathedral Choir and singing for many years under Peter Smedley and then Neil Page until her retirement from the choir four years ago. In her younger days, ‘Auntie’ Joan was a keen dancer and regularly travelled to London to dance the night away to Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra. All of us who sung in the choir with Joan have very fond memories of her colourful personality. Members of the Cathedral Choir were able to attend Joan’s funeral to sing one of her favourite pieces, the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, arranged by Ali Penge.
Margaret Allen (12 March 1940 - 9 March 2017) was a regular concert attendee at the Cathedral and known for rounding up great numbers of fellow music lovers to support our choir. Margaret had been battling with Pancreatic Cancer but was able to join us last term for our Cabaret Evening. Her passionate support for all that we do here will be greatly missed.
We were delighted to welcome composer Howard Skempton to the Cathedral on Laetare Sunday, 26 March, for the first performance of his Ave Maria at the 11.15am Mass. The piece was commissioned specially for the Cathedral Choir who will record the piece in May for their new CD of Marian music released in October 2017.
Howard is pictured above with Cathedral Dean, Canon Geoffrey Hunton, Director of Music, Alex Patterson, and members of the Nottingham Cathedral Choir.