Meet…. Ed. Who’s also at the front, somewhat to the right.

This week, it’s my special pleasure to introduce our accompanist, Ed.

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Being the rehearsal accompanist means you probably get all the hard work and very little of the glory, so it’s time to state the blinking obvious: without Ed, we’d be very stuffed.

Three cheers for our stalwart pianist!

Name: Ed

Section: Piano accompaniment

Any official choir function? Trying my best to keep it all together, and laughing at some of James’ jokes

Joined in: 2013

Daylight job: At the piano – performing, rehearsing, practicing, or teaching

What do you enjoy most about playing for us? The quality of results we achieve whilst maintaining a relaxed and friendly atmosphere

What is the most exciting choral piece you’ve ever accompanied? Britten’s War Requiem certainly has its moments

What’s the hardest choral piece you’ve ever accompanied? Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, because of the extremely difficult piano reduction and number of choral/solo parts to add in

Which choral piece is your guilty pleasure? Anything by Tavener

Do you also play any other instruments and if so, which? I tried the ‘cello and the clarinet when I was younger, and learned the organ for three years. I soon realised I should stick to the piano!

What other music do you enjoy? Hopefully I can learn to appreciate anything good

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing the piano? I love travelling, so exploring new cities and countries

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit? No biscuit, just a strong black tea to get me through the second half

What’s your choir super-power? Pretending to play all of the voices in Monteverdi’s Vespers at the same time

Tell us something we don’t know about you.  When I was sixteen I played for and met HM The Queen, but I doubt she remembers!

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Meet… James (he’s the one at the front!)

Name: James Slimings

Section: Tenor

Any official choir function? Conductor

Joined in: 2012

Daylight job: PhD Student/ Modern art installation

Why did you join a choir?  I was playing trumpet in my county youth orchestra on tour and ended up playing the piano and singing a little bit in the bar.  The conductor of the choir (who were on tour with us) asked if I would join.  I was besotted with one of the sopranos at the time, so went along.

What do you enjoy most about singing with us?  The fun that we have in rehearsal, every time we can’t sing for laughing I know I’ve done my job right.

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung? This is a difficult question, there are exciting pieces because the piece is exciting, and exciting performances.  As a singer, I think that the most exciting choral piece I’ve done is Harmonium by John Adams at the Edinburgh Festival last year.  As a conductor, it HAS to be Symphony of Psalms

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung?  There is a piece called Cantus Mari Baltica which was released on Delphian with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Either that or Taverner by Sir Peter Maxwell Davis, which was my Freshers Week concert.  As a soloist, Les Noces by Stravinsky… my Russian Sprechgesang isn’t ideal.

Which piece is your guilty pleasure? Jesus Child, Rutter.

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which?  Piano and a bit of trumpet.  My claim to fame is I’ve played Triangle in Die Walkure with Martyn Brabbins conducting and Sir John Tomlinson singing Wotan.

What other music do you enjoy?  I enjoy a little bit of everything, but if I’m just sat working you can’t beat a bit of Postmodern Jukebox.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing?  I’m always singing.  Always.

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit?  A Penguin, of course!

What’s your choir super-power?  Managing to shoehorn an obscure Monty Python reference as a metaphor for a complicated physiological process.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.  I’ve been gaffa taped to a wall before.

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir?  Choir isn’t about the performances, it’s about the pure unadulterated joy of singing together, in rehearsal in concerts but it’s all about US as a unit and we have so much fun together.  You won’t laugh as much or have as good a time for less money anywhere else in Scotland.

Meet… Michael.

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Name:    Michael

Section: Bass

Any official choir function?: No

Joined in: My connection with the choir goes back to 1994, when I was still at school. The former secretary, Vera Sweet, noticed that I was going to the choir concerts and she asked me to help sell tickets and arrange chairs, which I did before joining many years later. (We became friends and I think she’d hoped that I’d join, once I received a bit of training and experience, perhaps in a church choir somewhere.)

Daylight job: I do some voluntary work for Help Musicians UK (previously called The Musician’s Benevolent Fund). I visit retired and disabled musicians socially and I can make recommendations if they need any social or financial help to the charity. I enjoy it. It’s such a worthwhile thing to do and I get to meet professional musicians who have spent their whole life making music.

Why did you join a choir? I do enjoy singing, sometimes, but probably most of the time I can’t say I have a love of singing. This might seem unusual for someone who sings in a choir and often does solo singing in church not to have a particularly strong passion, or pleasure, for singing. I joined the choir because I find that it helps my understanding of the music. I like being introduced to music and learning it and being moved by it, if it stirs one’s emotions. If one sings a piece of music, over and over again then this process gives me a greater appreciation, and love, for the music in question. By singing, one can also concentrate of the text and if in opera, there’s the acting, costumes, lights and production. The experiences I gain in a choir can be transferred into watching other people singing.

What do you enjoy most about singing with us?  There is the social aspect of it as there is a tea break during rehearsals (something that some choirs do not have). A friendly face and a chat is a nice way to spend one’s time. During concerts I seen there are some audience members who just ‘glow’ and smile so broadly when they hear us singing a piece of music which they appear to know. There is satisfaction bringing joy into someone’s face!

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung? Within the choir, I enjoyed doing Charpentier’s Te Deum. French baroque music, which I enjoy, isn’t often performed in Scotland.  Outwith the choir, singing for the Pope at the Papal mass (and having a couple of close ups of the recorded event of me on tv).

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung? I wouldn’t say I feel that confident about doing ‘runs’, so some music that has these long, long runs is quite hard, especially in some of Handel and Mozart’s music.

Which piece is your guilty pleasure? Steps! ABBA

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which? Piano, but not very well.

What other music do you enjoy? Lieder, Bel Canto Operas, ‘soprano’ based music. Handel and Mozart. Baroque, French and Italian. Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and some Tina Turner (i.e. Quality pop).

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing? If I’m not singing, then I enjoy hearing other people sing. I am always going to concerts and operas. I like visiting world class opera houses and art galleries. I also enjoy reading plays, audio books, radio dramas.

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit? Quite happy with shortbread or something chocolatey

What’s your choir super-power? Every choir has its ‘key’ singers. If someone has been accepted to sing with the choir, then I would treat everyone equally, and with respect, no matter if I thought they were a strong or weak singer.

Tell us something we don’t know about you. I have studied at Oxford University, for seven years, doing ‘Cultural Studies’. I attended their summer schools, took online classes and correspondence courses and sent essays to them throughout the year. It was mostly opera based courses, on the history side of things and examining opera: how does that character develop psychologically? Compare and contrast the roles in Puccini’s operas. I did also pick up several scholarships to allow me to study there. (I do come from a very poor working class background and it sometimes makes me giggle if I come across someone uncouth who seems to judge me from where I come from, not knowing I’ve been to Oxford, or how cultured and artistic I am.)

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir? Give it a go. You have nothing to lose. We are a friendly bunch and the choir must be doing something right if I’ve had a connection with it, since my school days, and I’m still there over 30 years later.

 

If you’d like to join Michael and have a (potentially in-depth) chat about La Scala (see photo), do come along for one of our rehearsals!

 

Ursula

Meet… Ursula

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Name: Ursula

Section: 2nd alto

Any official choir function? I’m an ordinary member of the committee and the choir blogger.

Joined in: 2005, first time around; between 2006 and 2012 I was working in an assortment of specialties with crazy shift patterns, so I had to take a break to accommodate that. When I started training in microbiology in Glasgow in 2012, my working patterns finally allowed me to attend rehearsals regularly again.

Daylight job: I’m a doctor working in Microbiology – not one of the better known medical specialties! I grow bugs from clinical samples and give advice on antibiotic treatment of complicated infections to other clinicians.

Why did you join a choir? J.S. Bach’s choir pieces are something I have very much grown up with – in Germany Christmas without the Christmas Oratorio is unthinkable and I have some painful memories of sitting through St Matthew passions (yes, that’s a plural!) on a variety of very uncomfortable church pews… After doing a choir workshop in my late teens, I joined my local church choir in Germany for a few years during university. When I moved to Scotland in 2004, one of the things I did was look for a choir – and Glasgow Cathedral Society was singing just the kind of music I was interested in. Also – I actually don’t much like singing on my own. You won’t find me queuing for a solo!

What do you enjoy most about singing with us? There’s several things – I like that the choir as group is quite diverse across age groups and walks of life; I like that we’re not complacently recycling repertoire we’re all comfortable with, but keep moving and challenging ourselves… and yes, I do like the “spot the obscure pop cultural reference” thing that James has going on during rehearsals!

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung? The Monteverdi Vespers – there’s just no other contenders for that category. It is fabulous stuff!!!!!

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung? Doing Bach’s St John Passion in English was… different.

Which piece is your guilty pleasure? My husband is going to hate me for this, but I love “Jesus bleibet meine Freude” (“Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”).

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which? I have learned to play the recorder and the flute, but I haven’t played for years as neither has a headphone jack – I would feel very awkward inflicting my rusty playing on the world at large.

What other music do you enjoy? I’m a big Nick Cave fan, but I also like a bit of Glenn Miller/big band/swing type music, heavy metal, folk… In terms of classical music anything post 1750-ish is a bit late for me. I’m a bit of an 18th century opera fan girl.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing? Reading – my kindle goes everywhere I go; knitting; sewing; cooking; arguments.

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit? If I could get my hands on them, just a nice plain Bahlsen Butterkeks – failing that I’ll have a Malted Milk.

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What’s your choir super-power? German pronunciation, natürlich.

Tell us something we don’t know about you. I like Enya. So there.

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir? Surely they can’t have anything better to do on a Thursday night?!

In other words, you have no excuse not to come and see us for the rehearsal tomorrow night at 19.30 in Woodlands Methodist Church. Be there or be a rectangular thyng.

Ursula

Meet… Gillian

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Name: Gillian

Section: Soprano

Any official choir function? I do my turn on the tea rota. ️

Joined in: January 2014

Daylight job: Art Teacher

Why did you join a choir? I love choral singing

What do you enjoy most about singing with us? When all those perfect harmonies come together and create choral magic, can’t beat it! Also James’ very knowledgeable direction and brilliant analogies as well as some cheese jokes I hadn’t already heard!

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung? Loved the Poulenc Gloria, great dynamics and lovely crunchy harmonies!

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung? Bach “Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden”…too many notes!!

Which piece is your guilty pleasure? Haven’t discovered it yet

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which? The guitar, strummy, singalongy style

What other music do you enjoy? Everything from Chopin to Nine Inch Nails, excluding hip hop, Russell Watson and Cliff Richards.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing? Cooking and painting (landscapes, not walls)

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit? Dark choccy digestive every time!

What’s your choir super-power? Occasionally being invisible

Tell us something we don’t know about you. When I was an art student the Clash stayed in my flat in Hyndland Rd while on busking tour in Glasgow

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir? Most enjoyable 2 hours of my week, great fun, great challenge and greatly rewarding.

Meet…Bob

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Name: Bob

Section: Tenor

Any official choir function? No.

Joined in: 1997

Daylight job: Retired (I’m not telling you about my night-time one….)

Why did you join a choir? I love singing in choirs, especially unaccompanied stuff

What do you enjoy most about singing with us? The music and the friendliness of other members. About the friendliest I’ve been in – and I’ve been in quite a few.

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung? Rachmaninov Vespers

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung? Monteverdi Vespers

Which piece is your guilty pleasure? Josquin – Nymphes des Bois, though I have never sung it

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which? None

What other music do you enjoy? Solo piano – mostly classical, Scott Joplin and flamenco guitar

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing? I’m Mr Fixit in our house. I fix mobile phones and flog them on eBay

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit? Plain Hobnobs

What’s your choir super-power? Eh?

Tell us something we don’t know about you.  I’m a licensed amateur radio operator, callsign MM0RKT. I’m also a member of a Belgian Confrèrie.

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What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir? Come along for a try – you’ll like it! If you’re a tenor, brilliant!

Feel like taking Bob up on his invitation? We rehearse every Thursday at 19.30 in Woodlands Methodist Church – do come and join us!

Ursula

Meet… a Brian (we have more than one)

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Name: Brian

Section: Bass

Any official choir function? Erstwhile tea-maker

Joined in: 2011 ish

Daylight job: Small business owner (gardener)

Why did you join a choir? To sing and meet new folk.

What do you enjoy most about singing with us? The singing and meeting of new folk! 🙂 Best of all, I like learning and mastering (after a fashion) the classic repertoire. Performance as such doesn’t give me a huge buzz – I just like the challenge of learning new pieces and learning to sing better. And the second best thing is getting to know some fantastic music that I would never otherwise have come across.

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung? Probably the Grand March in Verdi’s opera Aida. It’s like skiing down a mountain full-pelt on the verge of losing control but not quite!

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung? Probably Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

Which piece is your guilty pleasure? I really enjoy a jammy piece, failing which….have been known to wallow in the exceedingly lush Mass in Eb for double choir by Reinberger. Also thoroughly enjoy “Three Craws Sat upon a Wa’” (Scottish Trad.). But for truly decadent melodies and downright debauched rhythms I turn to Fat Boy Slim.

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which? Piano (v badly)

What other music do you enjoy? Most kinds – world music, jazz, folk, rock, pop, country etc etc

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing? Spending time outdoors – hiking, biking, kayaking, eating sausages on a stick.

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit? Ritter Sport, albeit the choir budget tends not to support such excesses.

What’s your choir super-power? The ability to ignore all extraneous distractions, e.g. the conductor furiously signalling bass entries.

Tell us something we don’t know about you. I’ve got a boil on my….No, no, no. I speak French.

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir? Do it. Have fun. Open a door….

If you’d like to join Brian in the bass section – or join any of the other sections, for that matter, why not drop by for our rehearsal tomorrow night at 19.30 in Woodlands Methodist Church?

See you there!

Ursula

Meet…Marsha

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Name: Marsha

Section: 2nd Soprano

Any official choir function? Chair of the committee

Joined in: 2007

Daylight job: Artist/teacher

Why did you join a choir?  Love of singing!

What do you enjoy most about singing with us?  Repertoire and concert venue

What is the most exciting piece you’ve ever sung?  Brahms’ Requiem with 2 pianos

What’s the hardest piece you’ve ever sung?  Monteverdi Vespers

Which piece is your guilty pleasure?  Mozart Laudate Dominum

Do you also play an instrument and if so, which?  Piano, organ (badly).

What other music do you enjoy?  Too much to mention

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not singing? Making things

Tea break! What’s your favourite biscuit?  Dark Chocolate Gingers

What’s your choir super-power?  Recruiting tea makers!

Tell us something we don’t know about you.  My first public musical performance was singing “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” – aged 6, in the School concert, …..wearing a swimsuit!

What would you say to anyone thinking of joining our choir?  We love singing amazing music in an amazing building!

 

If you would like to meet Marsha and the rest of the choir, why not join us at our rehearsal tomorrow night at 19.30 in Woodlands Methodist Church?

See you there!

Ursula