Thursday, 31 January 2013

Poor Clares and Saltash Barbershop Singers. What a week.

Well I am now in Saltash Cornwall and having had two peaceful and productive days with the Poor Clares in Arundel, I am now running the exuberant gauntlet of a day of barbershop quartets, octets and choruses!

In Arundel we were working on some music for their Easter services which was quite beautiful and a new to me setting of the Gloria section of the mass. Sometimes teaching, like other hit or miss occupations has days when you achieve so much, and when all goes right. It was a perfect couple of days when every sister I saw seemed to go away with some new found confidence, or newly acquired technique, and the new music went like a musical bomb and was more or less learnt by the time I left. I hope the sisters felt as wholly satisfied as I did !

My first visit to Saltash Festival has been full of accomplished Barbershop singing today. What is in the water I asked, or maybe it is the cider ?! I heard such quality work, totally confident singing, such emotional content, and incredibly well disciplined groups who stuck to their conductor's every whim, with all the strength of high quality super glue. What a pity we cannot often find classical choral singing of this standard in today's world. The Barbershoppers are overtaking the world of Bach and Handel in the choral field !

I heard singing, which had the vocal technical ability to match the slick moves and the sense of free fun! I am not a barbershopper myself, and have never grown up in that genre of choral singing, but I can appreciate and liken it's difficulties and techniques to any good classical choir requirements. The difference is, that they burst with outward enthusiasm and seem not to have any nerves! I really wish it could be bottled, and I had the patent on it. I would be a multi millionaire in about two days!

I felt I was running out of superlatives, and running out of objective discernment by the last class, so I had to gird my musical loins and make tough decisions. I simply had to find a winner. Well, blow me if the two magnificent ladies choruses did'nt pull out all the stops and just edge over the two gentle men's choruses, thus making it nigh on impossible for me to prise them apart.

I did what all adjudicators do in that situation, I tied them with a very high mark. To split would have been cruelty to one, and not reflective of the standard to which they performed. They were so different, one so full blooded and vibrant, and the other so floatingly beautiful, the first so large in number and the second smaller and more intimate in style. It was a fair 'cop out', and I won't apologise for tieing them.

I was only relieved that Saltash Festival has the sense to be amenable and sometimes bend in the area of tieing. Well done Saltash, you have my heartfelt thanks.

Some of my dear Arundel friends, and underneath four of the talented Cornish ladies of the Carousel Chorus

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