Veni, Veni Emmanuel is the traditional choice for the first Sunday of Advent and I couldn’t resist putting links to two performances today.
This is music that has stood the test of time, having fifteen century origins (or even eighth century according to some sources). It is best sung in latin – I still remember having to fix a very beady eye on some gigglers at the back of my choir when conducting a rehearsal using the version with words in English…
Link to my website
December has arrived at last, and the countdown to Christmas has begun! Rehearsals for Christmas services, concerts and shows have already started and musicians are even more busy than usual.
Our first window opens to reveal Handel’s Messiah – perhaps the most well known and finest oratorio of all time.
Click here to listen to a fine performance of “Glory to God”
Make a Joyful Noise is the sparkling tale of a choir preparing for a very special Christmas performance of “Belshazzar’s Feast”. We meet a host of characters who are mercilessly sent up by the author: Lucy the staggeringly trusting young music teacher, Tristan the lecherous and vain anti-hero, Miss Greymitt the ageing and slightly confused choir pianist, Claire the shameless and scheming temptress, and singers with nothing but resonance between their ears. Just as all does not run smoothly for King Belshazzar in Walton’s music, so the characters in the novel suffer from hopeless yearnings, romantic misunderstandings and the unfortunate consequences of their own misguided actions. All is sharply and wittily observed in a delightful mix of romance, music and humour.
Link to Make a Joyful Noise
One of my readers has described my book Make a Joyful Noise as “quaint”.
I have been thinking more about what drove me to write this “quaint” novel, prompted in part by a recent interview with author Julia Hughes in which she asked me who or what was the inspiration for my writing.
Musicians’ behaviour has always fascinated me and I have explored this in the novel, sending various characters up when I feel they deserve it. Musicians have quite a challenge as they need to develop a very thick skin to survive, along with a strong sense of self worth that can easily lead to a seeming arrogance, and yet at the same time they have to function sensitively, thoughtfully and as part of a team when they perform. People can get this the wrong way round and be terribly sensitive to their own needs and feelings, but not be able to function in a group as they lack empathy. This can lead to some fairly spectacular personality clashes and misunderstandings, not to mention musical punch ups, and has been a rich source of humour for me. The anti-hero Tristan Proudfoot in my novel is an extreme example of a man sensitive to his own feelings and needs before everyone else’s.
This reminds me of something I heard an adjudicator say at a festival once.
“No one likes a show off – except on the stage!”
Please everyone, don’t forget to notice when you leave the stage.
Oh and before I go, just a word about the characters in my novel, to set the record straight. Many readers have told me that they recognise characters in the novel as various musical “types” and have certainly met people just like them (good, so it seems realistic!). Others have told me they know exactly who the characters are (for example Tristan is apparently “definitely” Simon Rattle– he isn’t by the way! Nothing like.). Make a Joyful Noise is a work of fiction. That means it is all made up.
Actually, I think I like “quaint” as a description of my novel, Make a Joyful Noise. It seems to fit.