Queen Elizabeth’s Academy Mansfield,
Saturday 9th November 2014
A report of a Mansfield Choral Society event
November 8th dawned with grey skies and rain, but for those of us who were looking forward to a day with John Rutter, quite perfect! We set off early to arrive at the Queen’s Academy in time for registration at 10.00 am and our collection of music, then into the main hall to be greeted with coffee and a biscuit, finding our allotted seats and getting settled for the day. Looking through the music we had just collected, we found a very varied selection, some well known items that John had re-arranged such as Amazing Graceand Kum By Yah, a Russian folk tune, Weddings for Choirs book which many of us are already familiar with, a book of Rutter Carols and his Lux Perpetua. On our seats were extra pieces of music should there be time left at the end of the day for us to enjoy.
We began the morning session promptly with a warm-up using Amazing Grace– such a delicate and beautiful setting and easy for both small and large choirs to perform. This was followed by a selection from the Weddings for Choirswhich included Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring, Bob Chilcott’s Irish Blessing, Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, and Rutter’s own The Lord bless you and keep you– enough to keep us going. A welcome lunch break next, resuming the afternoon session after about an hour.
And now the pièce de resistance, the Russian folk song; John gave us a hugely amusing rendering of his Russian word skills which we then followed by an equally amusing singing version – enough said. We now began work on theLux Perpetua which was instantly recognisable, and sang through most of the different pieces within it. John explained that when he composed this, he wanted to create a gentle work not something disturbing and grating, so we spent time trying to deliver what he was asking of us and hoped he was happy with the result.
Our final part of the afternoon was given up to singing some of his lovely carols. He took time to tell us about when he composed them and for whom – or example, the Nativity Carol with which we are all so familiar, was composed for a competition when he was quite young, and although he didn’t win, was later included in another book of carols.
As we all know, John Rutter has given his life to music and also has given to us a wonderful musical legacy to be enjoyed for many generations to come. His style of conducting during the day was easy and relaxed; any little glitches were dealt with quickly, and we moved on without fuss to the next piece. Our accompanist for the day was Angela Foan who played admirably and was commended by John at the end of the day
We all enjoyed ourselves immensely and our day ended all too soon. If you have never experienced a singing day then you have missed a treat. Maybe a New Years resolution to go to one in 2015!
Claire Bonney, St. Mary the Virgin, Bunney