Adopt a Composer – The journey begins!

  
Our first blog post is up on the Making Music website is up – hear about the start of our exciting Adopt a Composer journey. 

Dorset has some beautiful, historic churches, rich with architectural merit. This was not one of them.

The venue for our first Adopt a Composer workshop with Ed Scolding was resplendent in orange and brown patterned wallpaper, of the type popular in the 1970’s. This was paired with turquoise paintwork, and with a curious musty odour.

As the choir gathered in this inauspicious place, we all had questions about what was about to happen!

The fifteen members of my choir, La Nova Singers, are trained in a specific vocal technique by our musical director Michelle Nova. She specialises in ‘bel canto’, which translates as ‘beautiful singing’. Because of this, our rehearsals are usually focussed on sound production and perfecting our tone. Always preparing for the next concert means we don’t often get the chance to take a step back and work on other aspects of musicianship. This workshop, as well as helping ‘our’ composer get to know us musically and personally, would be a welcome break from routine.

To read more, go here: La Nova Singers reflect on their first Adopt a Composer meeting. 

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Law Nova Singers

lawsoc-longshot-rehearsalOn 9th December 2014, La Nova Singers were honoured to perform for The Law Society’s annual Christmas dinner, at their headquarters in Chancery Lane, London. Here are some photos from the rehearsal and performances…

lawsoc-closeup-rehearsal-2Here were are in rehearsal, while the waiting staff do what they do best… yes, that’s right, waiting… for us to finish, so they could get on with laying out the cutlery. (Sorry, guys).

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Performing carols ‘a capella’ while the guests arrive…

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After a delicious meal (including apple crumble and custard for desert, yum) there’s just time for a quick outfit change before going on stage again. We were joined by Matthew Fairman, our accompanist; Steve Howard, occasional flautist and professional law practitioner; and Rebecca Notherwood, official page turner!

lawsoc-longshot-performanceProcessing in to the room, singing ‘Ricevete’ from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and bearing flowers…

lawsoc-performThe stage is surprisingly green!

lawsoc-rebecca-and-signThese are the kind of gigs we like. Great chandeliers, great food, great signage.

Our thanks go to Law Society president Andrew Caplen, and his wife Lindsay – one of our former members! – for inviting us to perform. It was a fantastic experience and we hope the audience enjoyed it as much as we did!

Harping On

La Nova Singers choir rehearsing at Highcliffe Castle, Christchurch

After we were named winners of Grassroots Giving funding, La Nova Singers were keen to start putting the money to good use. We were already planning our concert for December 2014 at Highcliffe Castle, and for the first time had decided to perform with a harpist. The fees for professional instrumentalists – such as the many wonderful pianists we have had to accompany us with over the years – are one of our biggest running costs; but we knew the addition of a harp would make this event something special. Winning £500 from Skipton meant we didn’t have to worry about covering our expenses if the concert didn’t sell out.

Our plan was to sing the Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten – this is a really intriguing cycle of Christmas music, written using old English, and with Britten’s characteristically interesting harmonies! The composer used to write a lot for children’s voices, and for choirs of boy trebles, who have roughly the same vocal range as our choir of adult women. Getting to grips with the complexity of the music was tricky (I imagine Britten must have known a lot of precociously talented children to have written something so difficult!) but our aim is always to achieve a professional standard, or as near as we can get.

We worked with harpist Katie Salomon, who is based in Wiltshire; and performed in Highcliffe Castle in Dorset – a fascinating building, more of a stately home than a castle, and cobbled together in the 19th century from imported bits of Medieval French masonry. It was once the home of Harry Selfridge, the famous founder of Selfridges department store. Highcliffe is a venue we love to perform at, since it’s local and gives the audience a wonderful setting in which to experience music. Holding concerts is a also a great way to raise funds towards the building’s ongoing restoration (we are particularly grateful for the under-floor heating in the Great Hall)!

Choir performing at Highcliffe Castle - La Nova Singers with harpist Katie Salomon

In the end, our concert sold out well in advance – a result we were thrilled with. We enjoyed performing to a full audience, and watching as Katie’s beautiful harp solo left them spellbound. It really did help to create a truly magical festive atmosphere. We’re looking forward now to working with other instrumentalists in the future, particularly for our next concert in March, where we’ll be singing two of the ‘big hitters’ of the choral repertoire – Vivaldi’s Gloria and Fauré’s Requiem…

Note: This post originally appeared on ProjectDirt.com – view here.

La Nova Singers female choir singing at a wedding in Dorset | Photo by Simon Furlong Photography: http://simonfurlongphotography.smugmug.com/

A soprano gets married – Lucy and Ben’s wedding at Corfe Castle

In October 2014, La Nova Singers made their way to Corfe Castle village (sadly not by steam train) for the wedding of one of their own sopranos. Lucy married Ben at a lovely ceremony in St Edward’s Church – fortunately a stone’s throw away from the National Trust tea rooms, to which the choir decamped post-ceremony for scones with lashings of cream and jam. It’s a hard life being a singer!

These gorgeous wedding photos are by Simon Furlong Photography, who did a fantastic job of capturing the joy and humour of the day.

Wedding choir rehearsing before the ceremony

The beautiful – and practical! – bride

Here’s the video which was made on the day – though you’ll be hard-pressed to spot us, as we were doing our best not to block the videographer’s view of the ceremony!

La Nova Singers love castles. And cream teas!

Step back in time : WW1 Concert Dress Rehearsal

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Join us as we step back in time – no, not 100 years, but to a beautiful sunny day at the very beginning of July, when La Nova Singers congregated on the bowling green to rehearse for our WW1 commemorative concert…

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Our venue was the beautifully restored bowling pavilion opposite The Kings Arms boutique hotel…

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And after a slight delay whilst our intrepid ‘land girl’ Rebecca got to grips with the photographic equipment – 20140701_205018

– we were assembled and ready for a little promo photo!
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Smile, ladies!lanovasingers-singforvictory

‘Meet My Choir’ on BBC Radio 3

Meet My Choir - La Nova Singers on BBC Radio 3

This afternoon, La Nova Singers had their first broadcast on national radio – an interview with our multi-talented alto/soprano/soloist/artist Anne Terkelsen, during which a few tracks of our singing were also played. The interview tells the La Nova Singers story, and is available to listen again on the BBC iPlayer for 7 days (until 4/05/2014).

To listen, click here and go to 33 minutes 13 seconds in. Let us know what you think in the comments!

We’d like to thank the production team at BBC Radio 3 for giving us this fantastic opportunity to be heard by the nation’s choral fans. If you’re a singer and would like your choir to be featured in a future episode, the programme makers would love to hear from you – contact thechoir@bbc.co.uk and they’ll e-mail you a factsheet. You just record your own interview and audio tracks and they’ll do the editing.

We found the process really easy – and there are few things that can be better than the thrill of hearing your own voices come out of the radio, whilst sat in a cafe on a Sunday afternoon, everyone craning their necks over the table to hear while other customers and staff wonder who let the mad women in! Then you all pose for a photo to go on Twitter, this being the 21st Century and all.

La Nova Singers listening to themselves on Radio 3 in the Arcado Lounge, ChristchurchWe all had cakes and tea while listening to it, because that’s what we’re like.

Stourhead Festival of the Voice 2013

Outside the Pantheon, Stourhead

The Pantheon at Stourhead is a fantastically beautiful place to perform, and the view across the lake is gorgeous – whatever the weather. This year’s Festival of the Voice unluckily coincided with storm warnings and threats of a deluge – but some amazingly optimistic souls were there to hear us, with the reward of a window in the weather as well as our singing!outside-pantheon

The circular, marble-lined temple interior was, however, a temptation – particularly to test out the acoustics, which were lovely (although it was a challenge to our bel canto technique to keep the volume low enough for a smallish, stone-lined space).

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It was a bit like singing inside a piece of Wedgwood pottery…!

A curious rebound made it sound disconcertingly, to those of us second sopranos and altos, as if the first sopranos had swapped sides. Nevertheless it was very rewarding to sing the Saint Saens ‘Ave Maria’ in such a lovely setting.

– Today’s blog post is brought to you by our Treasurer and Second Soprano, Virginia.