Dr. Crotchet’s Choral Remedies #4

…so here we are, at the height of Summer, the temperature is barely scraping double figures, it’s been raining for 2 days, and you’ve put the heating back on.  Finding out that Australia, currently in their Winter season is enjoying better weather, is enough to make you want to weep…and choir is finished until September – dark times!!

DIAGNOSIS:  musical heartache

PRESCRIPTION:  Haydn Missa Sancti Nicolai

Now this might seem like a fairly straightforward remedy – pure Haydn, and very much of it’s era, but a closer inspection will reveal something full of exquisite drama and joy. There are lush harmonies, and swooping lines to carry you off into a wonderful new landscape…..from the fantastically pacy Amen at the end of the Gloria, moving on to the beautiful layering of solo voices in the Credo, slipping in and out of major/minor, followed by another uplifting Amen to bring you back from the brink.  …then the Sanctus…ooooh those Hosannahs!! I could rave on about this for ever… but it’s probably best you just go and listen to it!

Crank up the central heating, get ready for a good old sing along (I’m amazed at how much I can remember from singing it 8 or so years ago!),  and let it sweep you off your feet entirely.

DOCTOR’S NOTES:  The Doctor recommends Collegium Musicum 90/Richard Hickox version, but here is a little something of it to whet your appetite:

Cycling update!

What a glorious day it was yesterday for the sponsored cycle!  Colin and Gregor bravely took on the blue skies and Spring sunshine, to make the journey from Glasgow to Falkirk, finishing up at the Kelpies.

A huge thanks to them both, and to everyone who sponsored them – we promise you a fantastic concert on 27th May in return!


3 Tenors Go Cross-Country!

…now, not just The Three Tenors, but 3 of our lovely tenors, (Colin, Gregor and Colin – pictured here enjoying some well-earned tea and biscuits at our rehearsal break) are heading off on their bicycles to raise money to enable GCCS to continue putting on the excellent concerts that it has been doing for the last 79 years!  Thanks to Colin M. for the schedule – get yourself along to the Kelpies on 8th April to cheer them across the finish line!


The countdown is now on for the Three Tenor’s fund raising cycle on Saturday 8th April. The route will follow the towpath of the Forth and Clyde Canal starting at its Western extremity at Bowling and ending at the Eastern extremity at Grangemouth, or more accurately nowadays in the Helix Park where the Kelpies are situated, thus traversing Scotland from west coast to East.
With departure time of around 9.30, we should arrive at the Helix sometime between 2.00 and 3.00 p.m. (dependent on how long we spend at the Falkirk Wheel) If you any of you would like a day out to the Kelpies to welcome us as we arrive, we would be delighted to see you.
A fine dry day with a gentle Westerly breeze would be an advantage, so if anyone has any influence/expertise in that area please could you please pull a few strings?

Tales From the Crypt

… unfotunately I’m not at liberty to reveal any tales from the crypt, (if I did, I would then have to kill you) so here is a picture of us in the Crypt instead,  just about to go onstage at our Christmas concert.  …not sinister at all!


Dr Crotchet’s Choral Remedies #3

Well…it’s that time of year again, when the days are dark, and speckled with random explosions and your house has become a haven for gigantic spiders…and, although it may simply be the result of the damp gale that blows in every nook and cranny, and the addition of 3 new layers of jumpers, adjusting to a new season can occasionally leave you feeling somewhat disconnected.

DIAGNOSIS:  The Glooms

PRESCRIPTION:  Arvo Part – Magnificat

This isn’t a long piece of music, but it is the world in a grain of sand.  Complex and dissonant in places, both spacious and dense,  there are also huge lush harmonies and a consistency that carry you safely through it at a reassuringly steady pace.

There will always be darkness, so it is best to get to know it a bit better…embrace it! Invite the spiders in for a party, turn the lights off, and give the Magnificat a hug.

DOCTOR’S NOTES: The Doctor’s recommended version is with the Estonian Philharmonic Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra conducted by Tonu Kaljuste, but the link below will also work perfectly well.  The spiders here are enjoying it!






Dr. Crotchet’s Choral Remedies, No.2

Well, it’s that time of year again, when everywhere is hustle and bustle, the young folks are back to school/college, and there are a thousand new projects and activities to start all at at once, each one demanding your attention….and lurking in the back of your mind is the thought that you still haven’t cleared out the cupboard under the stairs/painted the shed/washed the windows * (delete as appropriate).

DIAGNOSIS:  New Term Information Overload

PRESCRIPTION:  Thomas Tallis “A New Commandment”

Like the breath of Angels gently blowing away your worries, this short 500 year old anthem will gently nudge you towards a better perspective, as the different voice parts slip  and weave effortlessly in and out of each-other’s paths, to the closing harmony.

Was  Tallis distracted by a few cobwebs?  I don’t think so.  …and let’s be realistic – the day when you actually have to grovel around in the back of the shoe cupboard for you wellies is still a long way off.  While the days are still bright and long, let Tallis filter out all that you don’t need, and enjoy some simplicity.

DOCTOR’S NOTES:  The recommended version is by The Tallis Scholars directed by Peter Phillips, but other versions are effective  (see below).  Also, while listening to beautiful music is a tonic for all life’s troubles,  actually singing it is a much more potent intervention.  If you have to prioritise your activities this year, put joining a choir at the top of your list.  Research states that singing is even better than yoga!   GCCS new season starts 15th September.


Dr. Crotchet’s Choral Remedies

Yes, it’s that time of year again…when your kitchen is full of wasps and you have more courgettes than you can cope with, and the melancholy feeling that Summer  is beginning to slip away before it has really had a chance to get started drifts periodically through your mind.  Classic symptoms of a very common malady, that requires prompt treatment.

DIAGNOSIS:  Late Summer Blues

PRESCRIPTION: Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, from Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem

Although it is a common condition, the Late Summer Blues must nonetheless be treated with a very carefully concocted balance of warmth and pace.  The particular movement recommended has just that – harmonic warmth enough to evoke the happy memories of that sunny day in June, but with enough pace to stop it becoming a sentimental cul-de-sac, thus easing the mind’s transition from the light of Summer, to the different kind of warmth that awaits on the horizon.

Let the wasps deal with the courgettes, let Brahms soothe your soul.

DOCTOR’S NOTES:  The Klemperer/Schwarzkopf 1962 (EMI) recording is recommended, but see below for a suitable alternative.

My Favourite Bars – Bach #3

This week, my favourite bars are  1-6 of the Gloria Patri.


This movement opens with all parts finding themselves at the top of a cliff – the Basses are the first to dive off into the blue, and  a wonderful tension is created as everyone gradually swirls their way back up to the top again, to break through the surface and bob about for a bit……then at bar 7 it’s back under again!  It might look something like this:


Sequence 2006 – Richard Serra


When I was a teenager, there was a fair called The Hoppings which came to the Town Moor in Newcastle every Summer.  Now I’m quite a scaredy cat when it comes to fairground rides, but I was once persuaded to go on something which I think was called the Magic Carpet…..essentially an ENORMOUS swing, that after a few (BIG) shimmies from side to side, eventually gathered the momentum to go right over the top.  Quite terrifying, but at the same time, inexplicably comforting.   …did you enjoy that strange pleasure too?



My Favourite Bars – Bach #2

This week, my favourite bar is bar 51 of the opening movement of the Magnificat….(the Magnificat).


Bach is FULL of patterns!  Stripes, chevrons, wavy lines…. all over!  But in bar 51 of the opening movement, there is a wonderful, rare moment, when the interweaving of many strands comes together, and everyone (all 5 parts!) is doing the same thing, at the same time, in a lovely, unambiguous A major chord. Aaaaaah…   Perhaps it looks like this:


Blaze #1   1962 – Bridget Riley

I have a (Magnifi)cat called Rhubarb, whom I love a lot, and his escapades are becoming more and more daring as time goes by.  Recently I came home to find him on the roof!   After spending a long time trying to work out how he could have got there, I realised the answer was simple…..he just decided!… That was where he wanted to go… so he jumped! No fear.