February 2020

I often wonder how many of today's musical performances would survive without the use of electricity. Certainly the “pop music” scene would grind to a halt as, it seems, nothing vocal can be managed without the aid of a large microphone half way up the singer's nose. Added to which hardly any televised performances are genuinely “live”.

Many years ago five of my “O” level music students were successful in getting into the finals of the long-since defunct BBC Nationwide Carol Competition. We had to go to Norwich Cathedral for the final televised event. Using only acoustic instruments and voices the rehearsal was recorded and tweaked by the sound engineer. Much to my surprise that recording was used for the “live” broadcast while the students mimed for the television cameras.......

So it was a great pleasure to sit in the lovely atmosphere of St James' church and listen to six unaccompanied voices fill the building with a great dynamic range from whisper soft to amazingly loud.  The Gesualdo Six (concert on 5th January) deserved their capacity audience with a programme of a cappella music from early plainsong to the present day. No microphones, no amplification, no backing tracks, no acoustic effects; just pure voices. Those responsible for musical aberrations like  television's “The Voice” could learn a great deal from The Gesualdo Six as they really do rely on the voice without digital enhancement or gimmick. Thanks to Lynn James for organising such an enjoyable occasion.

The choir has just completed the last of the season's carol services with Epiphany Carols at St Mark's so the green and orange carol books can be put to rest for another year! We always enjoy the welcoming atmosphere at St Mark's and it was good to see so many supporting the event.

The next "Coffee Cake and Music concert at St James' will be on Saturday 7th March when we welsome the Longwell Green Orchestra directed by my good friend and former colleague, Paul Hemmings; whose last appearance at St James' was to provide percussion (and aparrot!) for our “Come and Sing Pirates of Penzance”. The Orchestra dates back to 1921 and has a membership of around forty players and specialises in what used to be termed “light music”. As always there will be no charge for this concert which will begin with refreshments at 10.15am, and the retiring collection will be in aid of church funds. Yet another chance to hear acoustic music not relying on electricity – even Greta Thunberg would approve of that, but would probably prefer the players to walk to Dursley!                                                  Nigel Davies


Music for February

2nd    am    Nunc Dimittis in D – Dyson Woodard Service – Shephard

         pm    Locus Iste – Bruckner         Rose Responses     Lloyd in A
Glorious and Powerful God – Wood

9th     am    Informal Worship

16th   am    Cantique de Jean Racine – Fauré

         pm    Open thy Gates – Harrison  Reading Responses Parry in D
My Soul there is a Country - Parry

23rd   am    Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord – Mathias    Mathias in G

Ash Wednesday

26th   pm    Hide not Thou the Face – Farrant                 Harris in C