News from MMS
We joined the Canterbury Pilgrims
After many weeks of rehearsal in 2018/19 we finally made it to
the Tabard Inn at Southwark to join Chaucer’s Pilgrims as they
set out for Canterbury
“Canterbury Pilgrims” by George Dyson, was initially unknown to
us, it having fallen out of popularity many years ago. Paul Spicer,
conductor of the Petersfield Musical Festival choirs, is an expert on
Dyson and so was keen to perform the work.
At our Monday rehearsals we gradually became familiar with the
unusually addictive and tuneful music depicting the various
characters in the story. Those who had studied Chaucer at school,
particularly the Prologue and the Knight’s Tale could still quote
large chunks of the text in the original ancient English but the rest
of us had a more modern translation to work from.
Jessica and Mary heroically tackled the difficult rehearsal piano
part as we struggled with complex words and rhythms, gradually
coming to like the music and to enjoy the depictions of the various
pilgrims, such as The Knight, The Nun, The Merchant, The
Shipman and, most wonderfully captured in Chaucer’s text, The
The music for The Merchant was especially memorable, causing
several members to experience “ear-worms” when they were
unable to get the catchy tune out of their heads.
At last it was concert time and we gathered on a stormy Saturday
at the Petersfield Festival Hall to rehearse with the orchestra. For
the first time we were able to experience the full force of Dyson’s
exciting score, having to rise to the challenge of singing over a
large and very loud orchestra. One moment of humour came when
the Horn player, having gone off stage to play the last fading tune
as the pilgrims disappeared into the distance, was unintentionally
ignored by the conductor and so held the last note seemingly for
ever. We expected to hear him collapse!
Paul seemed pleased with the results and we managed to stay in
tune in unaccompanied passages; now for the concert.
We performed to a full hall, quickly getting into the spirit of the
work, especially the Basses who, like The Merchant, expressed
their “opinions full solemnly”. Everyone seemed to enjoy the
experience and Paul later expressed his great satisfaction with the
performance. We had worked hard to prepare but it was all worth
it in the end.
Our preparations for the Petersfield Musical Festival were
going well and we were looking forward to performing the
two rather unusual works scheduled for the first concert.
We had performed the Andrew Carter “Benedicite” before,
in Easebourne church with a choir from Conifers School,
the other work, “Mirror of Perfection” by Richard Blackford
was a new challenge.
Covid-19 was beginning to have an effect when we
assembled for the final rehearsal and concert in
Petersfield. The composer, Richard Blackford, was unable
to attend as he was in “lockdown” in Spain. Both the
audience and the children’s choir (for the Benedicite”)
were somewhat depleted. Despite our conductor, Paul
Spicer, beginning to feel unwell the concert was successful
and we felt pleased to have met the challenge.
Later events in the Petersfield programme were cancelled,
a great disappointment to those who had prepared and
rehearsed diligently in the preceding months, and we
were all soon in lockdown in our homes. not knowing
when we might next be allowed to enjoy singing together.
Petersfield Musical Festival
Planning for the 2022 Festival is now under way. There
will be a singing workshop at Bedales school, Petersfield,
on 25th September when we will be studying Stanford’s
“Songs of the Fleet” and Parry’s “Blest Pair of Sirens”.
Joint rehearsals for the 2022 Festival will begin on 12th
and 13th November and we will be preparing works by
Vivaldi, Haydn, Wilcocks and Vaughan Williams. Concerts
will be in March. MMS members and any friends from
other choirs will have the opportunity to prepare these
works at our normal MMS weekly rehearsals,