On a cold but lovely, sunny day, 51 singers and players met in St Johnís Church, West Bay, for a workshop tutored by Nancy Hadden. She had emailed all the singers' music to them in advance, so once the instrumentalists had been sorted out, we got off to a good start with Morales' Salve Regina. Our next pieces were by Palestrina: Pulchra Sunt and Dum Aurora. Throughout the day Nancy emphasized that, as well as being part of a choir, we had individual responsibility to structure our own parts. In this polyphonic music especially, we had to consider whether our part was a key feature, or whether another part had something interesting to say and we should melt a little into the background. This stimulated our concentration and made us listen to the other parts. Nancy repeatedly commented on our good sight-reading skills, and even indulged us with a rallentando at the end of one piece, to see if we were watching her, which we were!
The final challenge was Marenzio's Lamentabatur Jacob, which was for three- part choirs. The church was very cold, but the organizers did their best to look after us and provided well-organized hot drinks. Poor Wendy Carnell, who had organized the day, had tooth trouble, but her husband, Peter, and Paula Biss stepped in, together with lots of other friends who helped. She and about 12 others came for our final run-through.
Thank you to Wendy and Nancy for an enjoyable day. One of the things I value the most is meeting up with people at these workshops and making more musical friends. There was a lovely, convivial atmosphere at this event.
- Mary Thomas