Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 24

Christmas Greetings Champions of Churchill Music and music lovers everywhere.
Wintry it ain’t- no complaints! 
Snowier: Storefronts are showier, 
light displays glowier. 
Shoppers are prowling, blizzard howling! 
Drifts a-heaping, lords a-leaping, 
Yule logs burning, gifts a-heaping. 
Winds are a plenty for 2020!
Adapted from  The Old Farmer’s Alamanac – a reference book containing weather forecasts, planting charts, astronomical data etc which has been published continuously since 1792.  Its founder, R.B. Thomas studied solar activity, astronomy cycles and weather patterns and used this research to develop a secret forecasting formula which allegedly is still in use today (in the USA).  The secret formula is kept in a black tin box at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire! Hmmm!
Thank goodness for Christmas!  Conjure up those sumptuous spicy Christmas aromas with Delia Smith’s home made mincemeat recipe – its not too late – and a good ol’ English traditional Wassail – the very jolly Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Wassail Song from his Folk Songs of the Four Season, Winter.  This version is sung by the Waverly Consort.  Clare College Cambridge do a good version too, but the Waverly consort sing the words very clearly and they are written underneath.

Peter Hewitt’s coffee concertissimo this week is far from relaxing – it will certainly send the dust flying or the silver polisher resembling Elon Musk’s rocket.  Peter recorded this stonkingly good performance of  Rachmaninov’s Etude Tableaux OP.39  – based on a seascape painting.  Prepare for 5 mins of a “work designed to keep brains working and fingers moving and everything in good order”! just go for it! 

‘Singalongs’ don’t normally ‘flip my switch’ but all that went straight out of the window this winter when curiosity led me to The London Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Singalong Christmas’ preparation video.   I am looking forward to sitting back in front of the fire, mince-pie in hand coupled with some delicious mulled wine and watching the LSO’s Singalong Christmas carol concert on TV released yesterday (available for 90 days) FREE.  With Soprano Abigail Kelly and bass-baritone, Rodney Earl Clarke with the London Symphony Chorus and orchestra, it promises to be a real Christmas blazer!  It’s not all singalong, just enough to kindle our Christmas spirit even more!  The programme includes a fabulous variety of carols – some great favourites and some that are not so well known. 

Looking for an unusual, eco-friendly Christmas present or even a treat for yourself – goodness knows we all deserve a little indulgence!  The Gesualdo Six vocal ensemble (performed for us February 2018 and now an internationally acclaimed ensemble) along with the Echo Vocal Enemble and the Swan Consort may have the answer. Their ‘12 Days of Christmas’ delivers a seasonal musical offering to the recipient’s email inbox every day from 25th December to 6th January and then available until the end of January.  All filmed and recorded in the fabulous setting of Castle Howard – just glorious.  “From carols to Christmas classics expect a wide range of music from the European Renaissance to the present day, including little-known gems from contemporary composers”.  They have various packages starting at just £12.00 and even a taster video.

Now for what Nigel Kennedy once referred to as a “Bi’ o’ Bach’ at the Alternative Glastonbury Festival!  As many of you will know, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, composed in 1734, tells the entire Christmas story from the Birth right through the arrival and adoration of the Magi. With lots of ‘Royal Trumpets’ and trilling oboes to give the foretaste of the pastoral mood that comes later.  Directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, this is another glorious work to keep our spirits up (and of course accompanied by a wee drop of Mother’s Ruin and those tiny mince pies which are so moorish!

The Royal Opera Christmas Concert brought direct to your sitting room! Don’t miss – there is something for all the family. Friday 18th December 19.00. This festive concert includes “Extracts from fairy-tale opera favourites including Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, as well as from Royal Opera repertory classics including Puccini’s La bohème, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas”.  
If you have not been able to arrange to see these concerts on your TV, there is still a chance that William Maitland Round could help sort this for you.  It is revolutionary to be able to watch all these lovely concerts and performances in comfort.  William’s fee is £25 (Champions of Churchill Music can get this free if you need it).  The necessary cable will be on top of that but is unlikely to come to more than £30 and probably a lot less depending upon your TV and tablet/phone.   Contact William  williammaitland12@gmail.com

Churchill Music’s next concert  Obviously this cannot be set in stone yet as it depends on your safety etc. BUT please keep Saturday, April 24th 7.30pm St. John’s Churchill marked in your diaries.  The London Mozart Players quartet, led by Ruth Rogers, with the phenomenal clarinettist, Michael Collins are hoping to be able to perform for us.  HURRAY!  More news anon.

We may not have been able to hold our concerts BUT our schools projects have been able to continue.  Churchill Music’s Power of Music project aimed at Year 5 primary school pupils is going ahead.
For those who are unaware, this is a Churchill Music initiated project. Using your donations to develop it, the project demonstrates how and why film makers and advertisers use music to change our perceptions, what happens in the brain and why and finally how the children can use music to alter a mood or help them through a difficult situation.  We are thrilled that despite everything, this Power of Music project is proving to be extremely popular.  The proof is that schools which have had the project have requested it again for this year’s year 5 pupils and more schools are joining the queue.  Despite the Covid rules, the PoM team have worked incredibly hard to make it work via Zoom.  We are so proud of this achievement on top of everything else that Heather Walters (Music therapist and leader), Zoe Maitland Round (trustee and assistant) and Jane Johnson (co-ordinator/school governor and teacher) have on their plates.  

Violin and Clarinet Projects More good news.  These too have been able to continue and children who missed out earlier in the Lockdown, have been able to receive these taster session.  Many more children are continuing thanks to our inspiring teachers, Alison Blundell, Liz Whittam and Cathy Faulkener.  I cannot resist including this little snippet from Cathy, “Thank you for continuing to make this opportunity possible for the children of Churchill even in these very difficult times.  I think that the programme matters more than ever now, what will all the disruptions and uncertainties in children’s lives.  New opportunities for children are few and far between at the moment and the joy of making music together does us all good!”

AND Finally:  If you are planning any travel at any time – ever, across the UK you will need to know what the weather is going to be like.   Katia Kvinge’s weather forecast will tell you exactly what to expect region by region – very amusing! 

AND – does this ring any bells?
Where art thou Mother Christmas? I only wish I knew, Why Father should get all the praise And no-one mentions you.  I’ll bet you buy the presentsAnd wrap them large and small, while all the time that rotten swine Pretends he’s done it all.  So Hail to Mother Christmas, Who shoulders all the work! And down with Father Christmas, that unmitigated jerk!Roald Dahl – written for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in 1988.  

The Trustees of Churchill Music would like to thank you all for being patient about the lack of concerts, your generosity to those musicians that we had to cancel and your kind words in response to these emails.  We are deeply grateful to you all and hope to be back holding concerts again as soon as possible.  
We wish you all a VERY merry, musical Christmas and every possible good wish for 2021.
Jan and all at Churchill Music.