A CHORUS who was so inventive, as well as so cautious, during the coronavirus pandemic would always deserve a wider appreciation. As events unfolded, Bearsden Choir may also appear to have been blessed with a second sight.
Taking advantage of what turned out to be a brief window of opportunity, the singers managed to come together for carefully managed rehearsals at Maryhill Burgh Hall this fall, then gathered in Kingsborough Shrine in Hyndland – one places of worship at Broomhill and Hyndland Parish Church – earlier this month to film a version of the Christmas concert he allegedly gave previously in Glasgow town halls.
This is necessarily a much shorter program, consisting of four contemporary Christmas carols and a modern arrangement of a very old one, but it is probably impossible to overestimate the solace that the choir singing will bring to people. confined to the house when the music is released. this week.
This is a well-chosen selection of songs, including one by choral composition master John Rutter, who was a guest at one of the choir’s online meetings, two by veteran songwriter Alan Bullard, and one by the youngest Philip Stopford, who now works as a choir director in New York.
The traditional song is Gaudete, its 16th-century Scandinavian-origin Latin text, performed in an arrangement by Cecilia McDowall with which the choir was already familiar. In a way the most brazen proclamation of the birth of Christ overall, the choir gives it full voice but without sacrificing any diction. Applause should go to the sopranos for the sonorous descent in the last verse.
The women in the choir also deliver Stopford’s A Christmas Blessing, a rather formal prayer with a beautifully graduated crescendo, all eyes on choirmaster Andrew Nunn.
Rutter’s Christmas Lullaby subtly hints at other tunes and uses Ave Maria as a chorus. It features precise unison vocals before accompanist Chris Nickol gives up for the a capella harmonies of the third verse.
Radio 3 listeners will have heard a number of new settings from Christina Rossetti’s Love Came Down At Christmas this week as the network aired the finalists in their annual Christmas carol line-up. Alan Bullard is a more established part of the canon and a far from easy song, with delicate timing. After negotiating these obstacles, the choir adds a very calm coda to its performance.
A Londoner who studied with Herbert Howells and worked in the south of England his entire life, Bullard also provides the Scottish coda to the Bearsden Choir song sequence. Scots Nativity shows its familiarity with traditional music, and in particular Gaelic chanting, in its cadences, as well as the echo of the church canon.
Filmed in an elegantly simple style by Demus Productions and with crystal-clear sound recording by Matthew Swan, Bearsden’s Countdown To Christmas begins tomorrow and is accessible through his own website, bearsdenchoir.com, his YouTube channel and Facebook page, or on heraldscotland. com.