Voice for Life – Silver

I finally managed to achieve one of the goals I set for myself at the start 2010: to take the RSCM’s Voice for Life Silver Award. I took the first level, the Bronze Award, in 2009, and had planned to continue straight on to the silver.

2011 07 03 001 2

Voice for Life, Bronze Award

In the end, I applied twice last year, but the first time I had to cancel because I was sick, and the second time the exams themselves were cancelled due to a lack of candidates. In April this year I sent off my third application, which had undergone an almost complete transformation since my first attempt, and in May, two days before we left for Kenya, I travelled down to Brussels to finally take the exam.

The exam is designed to test both singing ability and knowledge of the church and church music, and contains the following parts:

  • Section A – Using the Voice Well (ie. singing!). My music choices were:
    • Hymn: Jesu, lover of my soul, Aberystwyth
    • Psalm: 15, chants by Wesley
    • Anthem: My soul there is a country, Parry
    • Magnificat: First Service, Weelkes
  • Section B – Musical Skills and Understanding, which consist of:
    • Sight reading
    • Aural tests
    • General questions about musical knowledge
  • Section C – Repertoire, discussion about:
    • Chosen anthem
    • A contrasting anthem of your own choice
  • Section D – Testimonial, since my choir isn’t affiliated with the RSCM, I wrote my own, which was slightly strange!
  • Section E – Choir in Context
    • Explaining the origins of set liturgical texts
    • Put together a church service – I choose a Service of Harvest Thanksgiving at Mattins
    • Discussion about the role of music in the church and worship

As you can see, as well as the singing, there was a lot of preparation and background reading required. The exam itself scary, but mostly uneventful, aside from the fact that the piano had a panic attack during my psalm and I found myself singing more verses unaccompanied than I’d expected. At least this time round I didn’t find myself stuck on the roadside due to overhead wires falling down on the International train line.

I’m still kicking myself for making some stupid mistakes during the exam, but overall it went well, and I was very happy when I received the results – I passed with Distinction, with an improvement of 10% compared to the Merit I got for Bronze.

2011 07 03 003 2

Voice for Life, Silver Award

Since I was singing Evensong, I missed this year’s Choral Festival so my new medal was presented to me during our final ECS rehearsal for Ely. I haven’t had the chance to wear it yet – its first outing will be Choral Evensong at Ely Cathedral in August.

Choral Evensong – 2nd July, 2011

Normally we would have already finished the choir season and be starting our summer break, but this year we are continuing through to the end of July, and not starting back until October. This is what we sang for our penultimate evensong:

  • Introit: Hide not thou thy face, Farrant/Hilton
  • Responses: Seal
  • Psalm: 85 (Hopkins)
  • Canticles: Blow in F
  • Anthem: O for a Closer Walk with God, Stanford

Mass – 5th June 2011

Today was one of the rare occasions where we’re called upon to sing the Mass at the Nicolaas. Awake at 6am, it almost felt like I was back on safari again, although strangely it was light – I’ve got used to getting up in the dark of late. Thanks to my birthday gift from my fellow choir members at least I could take a cup of tea with me – my standard Sunday Mass gripe is that the shop at the train station isn’t open early enough.

Some repetition of yesterday’s music, to keep things simple, but with the introduction of a new Mass – the Missa Brevis, by Lennox Berkeley.

  • Mass: Miss Brevis, Lennox Berkeley
  • Offertory: God is gone up, Croft
  • Motet: O Rex Gloriae, Marenzo
  • Psalm: 99 (Walmisley)

I’m slowly getting the hang of singing the Mass, though I remain unimpressed with my ability to sing in Dutch – I still stumble sometimes over the words (I have to admit that I simply don’t always understand them!), and my intonation isn’t great.

Choral Evensong – 4th June 2011

After two and a half weeks away, I have a busy weekend with the choir – a good way to overcome the culture shock and get back into my normal routine! I wouldn’t have thought that it was possible to be hotter than I was in Africa when I came home, but as soon as I put my choir robes on for the rehearsal today I changed my mind about that.

  • Introit: O Rex Gloriae, Marenzo
  • Preces and Responses: Radcliffe
  • Psalm: 47 (Monk)
  • Canticles: Walmisley in D Minor
  • Anthem: God is gone up, Croft

Choral Evensong – 7th May 2011

  • Introit: This Joyful Eastertide, Wood
  • Responses: Ayleward
  • Office Hymn: Ad cenam Agni providi
  • Psalm: 149
  • Canticles: First Service, Gibbons
  • Anthem: Exultate Justi, Viadana
  • Antiphon: Regina Caeli, Suriano

Choral Evensong – 21st August 2010

Back to the normal schedule after the summer break with our first choral evensong of the Nicholas Chorale.

  • Introit: View me Lord, Richard Lloyd
  • Responses: Radcliffe
  • Psalm 19
  • Canticles: Watson in E
  • Anthem: Come, my way, my truth, my life, Harris