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  • Writer's pictureGuy Collins

Rachmaninov Vespers

While we have been forced by the coronavirus lockdown to cancel our planned April-June rehearsals and the Opera Choruses concert on June 20th, we have come up with an alternative for the summer which I hope will be both exciting and rewarding. We are indebted to Aziz Panni for suggesting rehearsing Rachmaninov's Vespers at home, a work that, due to some of its linguistic and musical complexities, does provide some very interesting challenges. It's a capella, there is obviously a lot of Russian text and for the basses there is more than one deep dive down to the rarely-visited depths of I think B flat two octaves below middle C!

Our new Music Director Will Vann has very kindly offered to produce a series of 10 video podcasts, each about 15 minutes long, to be made available weekly to the choir between late April and the end of June, providing a framework for rehearsal at home. The piece lasts a little under an hour and is divided into 15 sections, most of which we will cover. Will's aim will be to tackle one section per video, both explaining its context and giving a guide to rehearsing it. The sheet music can be accessed online and we will send that round by email, while the videos will be accessible on a private YouTube channel with a code we will circulate. Once we have individually completed the on-line rehearsals, the idea is to organise a Come & Sing, perhaps in the Autumn or Winter, to bring together all those who have participated and hopefully others as well around from the neighbourhood. We may even be able to arrange a concert performance at some point in the coming year, perhaps during the spring or early summer of 2021, although that will very much depend on circumstances at the time.

We anticipate making the first video available during the week of Monday April 20th, which is when our rehearsals were due to start, and the programme of 10 videos will finish in late June. The videos will be released at weekly intervals and, once on YouTube, will be available to watch at your leisure. We will circulate more practical details over the next couple of weeks. I hope you are as excited by this as I am, and I look forward to working with Will and the committee on making this a memorable project for the choir.

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