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Music at St Peter's in 2014

Monday 31st March, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

by Peter Siepmann | tags: , , , , , ,

Music at St Peter's & All Saints’

Annual Report 2014 

The Choir of St Peter's continues to sing at least five services a month at St Peter's and one at All Saints' in a range of liturgies that includes Matins, Eucharist, Evensong and Compline.  Alongside this principal commitment to the opus Dei of the parish, regular visits and concert work continue to form an integral part of the choir's schedule.  2014 began, as has become the custom in recent years, with a cathedral visit, this time to sing Evensong at Southwark Cathedral on 4th January. During Holy Week, the choir was once again privileged to be invited to sing for the Diocesan Chrism Eucharist at Southwell Minster. In May, members of the choir joined the massed choral societies of Mansfield, Bingham & Newark with the Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra to perform Mozart’s ever-popular setting of the Requiem in the Albert Hall.  The choir returned to Southwell to sing for the Ascension Day Eucharist where it was a great joy to participate in such sumptuous liturgy and to sing to the expert accompaniment of Simon Hogan (Assistant Director of Music at Southwell).

Alongside these happy occasions, the summer also brought the sad news of the death of Kendrick Partington.  Kendrick was Organist at St Peter’s from 1957-1994 alongside his work as Director of Music at Nottingham High School. During his long and faithful tenure, he instituted the choral bursary scheme, he founded the St Peter’s Singers, established the WL Sumner Memorial Organ Recitals and the Saturday morning ‘Coffee Break’ Concerts. He oversaw the overhaul, re-voicing and additions to the organ by Willis in 1964, and another overhaul and re-voicing by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1983. Kendrick took the choir on many cathedral trips, including a weekend at St George’s Chapel Windsor, and both St Paul's and Gloucester cathedrals in 1993. As is evident from this brief summary, so much of what we enjoy in the St Peter’s music department today was first started and nurtured by Kendrick.  A small family funeral was held in May, but there was an opportunity for the wider community to pay tribute to Kendrick’s inspirational life at a special service on Saturday 12th July. The Reverend Canon Leslie Morley (Rector of St Peter's 1985-1999) gave a moving tribute, and it was wonderful to be able to welcome a number of former choristers back to the choir stalls to sing one of Kendrick’s favourite anthems, Greater Love by John Ireland.

Also during the summer, the choir was privileged to work with renowned conductor and organist Robert Quinney (who gave a fabulous recital the following morning), and to give a concert at St Oswald’s Church in East Stoke.  In August, the choir spent a weekend in Cologne, giving a concert at All Saints’ Anglican Church, leading the Sung Eucharist at the Antoniterkirche and singing Vespers in the famous Cathedral. Heartfelt thanks are due to Assistant Organist Lee Rooke, for his impeccable organisation and leadership of this trip.  As the summer drew to a close, it was both a relief and a delight to learn that I had become a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

Particularly noteworthy in the Michaelmas Term was a visit to Chester Cathedral, the Remembrance Sunday Eucharist (with the Fauré Requiem conducted by Assistant Director of Music, Richard Ward) and the musical feast that was the wedding of tenor Tim Hetherington to Katie!  St Peter’s Choir continues to sing Choral Evensong on the second Sunday of each month, and these are often highlights of the schedule (and in October, included a ‘Come and Sing’ service which resulted in packed choir stalls). If only the congregations at these services were larger!

The coming year includes a long weekend in residence at Salisbury Cathedral in May, a summer concert at Tideswell Parish Church, and in October a weekend singing the services at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

In amongst the great successes detailed above, the choir also experienced a number of disappointing occasions when lack of numbers (either at rehearsals or services or both) meant some exciting repertoire had to be withdrawn. Indeed, many of the trips and tours mentioned above owed much of their success to a number of visiting singers joining us for the occasion. The make-up of the choir is changing, as choristers grow older, family and professional commitments intervene, and we continue to strengthen our links with the University of Nottingham. Recruitment is a continual challenge, particularly of tenors and basses, and it will take time and patience for the choir to adjust to this changing demographic.

During the course of the year, we bid a fond farewell to Ian Matthews (after seventeen years of exceptionally dedicated service), Lily Bracegirdle, Phill Ridley and Katie Sykes. New choristers Tim Selman, Pippa Grayson, Rebecca Temple and Gemma Soden were given a warm welcome, and it has also been excellent to have Alison Smith and Tristan & Catriona Moore back with us.

The Saturday morning 'Coffee Break' Concerts continue to prove a great success, though audiences have taken a slight dip this year. Performances in 2014 included those by the Mirabilé Vocal Ensemble, Phantasie Viol Consort and Picardy Recorder Consort, guitarist James Rippingale, pianists Ed Hodgkinson and Lauretta Bloomer, organists Nicholas Morris and Robert Quinney, violinists Hannah Woolmer (accompanied by Daniel Roberts) and Yulia Northridzch (accompanied by Neil Millensted), singers Matthew Jordan, Richard Paterson (accomapnied by John Gull), Marianne Wright (accompanied by Gabriel Jones) and Katharine Choonara (accompanied by Paul Marshall) as well, of course, as the church’s resident instrumental ensemble, saraBande.

My personal thanks, as always, go to Keith Charter for his support and advice; to the many and varied concert artists; to the players of saraBande; but most of all to the music team - Michael Leuty, Lee Rooke and Richard Ward (for their wise counsel as well as their assistance with organ playing and choral direction) and the singers of the church choir, who patiently tolerate the periodic frustrations of their Director of Music, giving freely of their time and talent to maintain the weekly round of worship and contributing so much to the vibrant musical life of our parish.


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