The Cathedral Diary during December is full of a whole range of organisations who have chosen to hold their annual Christmas Services and Concerts in our Cathedral Church. 2017 was no different
with the Cathedral supporting charities such as the Alzheimer's Society, Rainbows, and Maggie’s.
This year our Youth Choir contributed carols to Maggie’s ‘Carols by Candlelight’ Concert on
Thursday 7 December alongside the Trent Brass Quintet and Southwell Choral Society.
2017 also saw the return of the BBC Radio Nottingham Carol Service, last held here in 2013. It is always a pleasure to welcome BBC Radio Nottingham to the Cathedral and we have it on good authority that they enjoy working in the lovely acoustic.
The Carol Service featured a range of traditional carols including one particular request from the BBC, Neil Page’s arrangement of ‘While Shepherds Watched’ to the tune ‘Cranbrook’, commonly used for the Yorkshire folksong ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At’. The Cathedral Choirs gave performances of John Rutter’s ‘The Colours of Christmas’ and Bob Chilcott’s ‘Where Riches Is Everlastingly’, also accompanying soloist Emma Browne in Adolphe Adam’s ‘O Holy Night’. No carol service is ever complete without a touch of brass and we were delighted to welcome back the members of Essentially Brass who performed ‘I Wonder As I Wander’ with soloist Emma Browne and also ‘Gaudete’ and a lively festive medley ‘The Many Sounds of Christmas’. Members of the Bestwood Male Voice Choir and the Linby and Papplewick WI (LAPWINGS) rounded off the service which was later broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The appointment of Ellie Martin in September 2017 to the new role of Youth Choir Director has had a major impact on our Cathedral Youth Choir and also allowed us to open up more opportunities for young singers in a way we have never been able to do before.
Singing workshops in local schools have helped to attract new members to our Youth Choir, but also to provide schools with high quality singing expertise - something which is becoming increasingly lacking in schools due to the pressures they face on budgets.
One teacher reported:
‘Ellie came to do a one-hour singing workshop with years 4-6... she performed a variety of fun, interactive warm up activities to get their bodies and voices ready. The children were then able to practice rounds and rhythms with older songs as well as contemporary ones. To be able to offer this free is truly remarkable as many of our children are rarely exposed to proper musicians.’
Work with schools has resulted in our developing a relationship with the Nottingham Music Hub (funded by the Department for Education) and we will be working closely with them moving forward to ensure every child in the region is able to engage with high quality singing.
There have been a range of other opportunities for our current young singers. The Youth Choir was invited to sing as part of Salaam Shalom (SaSh) Kitchen Mitzvah on 22 November 2017 in aid of a National Jewish initiative which aims to bring different communities of different faiths to do good things for the world. The Youth Choir performed a number of songs and motets and also enjoyed a range of activities with other young children of different faiths.
We now have a new youth ensemble - Vivace! - comprised of a group of five girls from the Cathedral Youth Choir who meet on Fridays at 5pm to sing a range of music, learnt aurally and performed from memory. They have already performed at Mass and it has been extremely rewarding to see these young singers develop in confidence and ability as a result. We’re looking forward to seeing how the group continues to grow.
The Autumn term always feels like one huge gallop towards Christmas. 2017 was no different, but we had a few engagements before we dusted off our ‘Carols for Choirs’.
The Cabaret Evening has now been re-established as an annual event and last year took place on Saturday 21 October to a packed Cathedral Hall. Members of the Cathedral Choir offered up individual solo items such as ‘Don’t Fence Me In’, ‘Stars’, ‘The Girl in 14G’, and the sultry ‘Song of a Nightclub Proprietress’. Of particular note was Finn Mather’s hilarious rendition of Copland’s ‘I bought me a cat’,
Eden Lavelle’s moving turn as Captain von Trapp singing ‘Edelweiss’ accompanying himself on guitar, and a charming performance of Schubert’s ‘Die Forelle’ by Julius Kupfer, our German exchange student. The boys of the Cathedral Choir treated us to some classics such as the Beach Boys’ ‘I Get Around’ and barbershop classic ‘Uptown Girl’ with the full forces of the Cathedral Choir belting out ‘One Day More’ from Les Misérables and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sir Duke’.
To mark All Souls Day, the Cathedral Choir gave a performance of John Rutter’s beautiful Requiem, written in 1985 and dedicated to the composer’s father who had died the previous year. The performance was dedicated to the memory of all those supporters of the Cathedral Choir whom we had lost in 2017, in particular Margaret Allen, former soprano Joan Sales, and Mary Fleet who would have celebrated her 84th birthday on 2 November.