Holmfirth Choral Society

Members' Information

Updated 22 July 2021

22 July - looks good for this evening - which is the final session before we break for the summer.   Return date and other details will follow later when we have more idea how the covid problems are evolving.  Many thanks to all those who felt able to come to these sessions.  I hope that the situation will be much improved by the end of the break, to the point that we all feel safe to return to singing.

15 July - solid blue sky at the moment, so it doesn't look like rain.  Session's good to go!

8 July - as of 6.30, it looks good for this evening.  Let's hope we don't get a last-minute shower.  See 30 of you in an hour.

1 July - all systems go for this evening!!

24 June - rather late, but the weather looks fine at the moment, so this evening's session is on.

18 June : We had an almost full (29 singers plus myself) singing session on the Methodist Church lawn yesterday, which I hope everyone enjoyed.   Numbers are creeping up for the remaining sessions each Thursday up to 22nd July, so if you haven't given me your dates, please email me as soon as possible if you wish to attend.  I will post a decision here depending on the weather, each Thursday around 6pm.  Remember to bring your own chairs.  A few of those there yesterday attracted some of the local midge population, so if you are easily bitten, you might like to bring appropriate insect repellant.  If you were there yesterday, please bring the music you were given; there will be spare copies for those coming for the first time, and there will be more to give out for everyone too.   Remember too that although we are outside and most of us are vaccinated, we need to be vigilant in preventing any further spread of the virus.

11 June :  IT'S LIKELY THAT WE CAN MEET ON 17TH JUNE TO SING LIVE AGAIN  - BUT OUTDOORS ON THE METHODIST CHURCH LAWN, AND RESTRICTED TO 30 SINGERS.  PLEASE EMAIL ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ONE OF THE 30.  I need to check a few details on Monday morning, and I'll send out a confirmatory email with further details, but it would be helpful to have early responses from those hoping to attend.  7.30 until 8.30;  the forecast is good at the moment;  bring your own chairs please.

1 June :  I've had an email from ChoraLine advertising an online rehearsal and performance opportunity for the Brahms Requiem (sung in English) starting shortly.  It's being run by the RunBySingers - watch an introduction to what they do here,   We also had a direct email from them, which said:

Runbysingers is offering singers a rare opportunity to rehearse,sing, and record  Brahms Requiem  - in English – online. Music is provided and all sections are rehearsed separately.  The final concert will, be signed in BSL.

It's not the same as singing face to face but it's a great way to learn a new piece of music as all rehearsals are on You Tube so they can be paused, rewound, and watched again. Here is a link to a 2 minute video showing what we do.
With a professional backing choir to accompany our rehearsals, top soloists Ashley Riches and Charlotte Bowden and award-winning conductor Matt Finch, this event promises to be very special.
Try before you buy
If you think any of your members might be interested, just ask them to email brahms@runbysingers.org and we will send them a free link to the first rehearsal on 8 June and a full PDF score. The full package of rehearsals costs

Full details can be found here

Best wishes

Nick Couchman, Runbysingers

I'll be soon putting out some details about starting our singing together again - keep checking this page!

22 May :  The new advice from the government is to restrict amateur rehearsals to 6 choristers.  Yet professional rehearsals can be up to any number, subject to social distancing and other covid safety precautions.  This seems to be anomalous - do amateur singers generate more aerosol than professional singers?  Possibly the (on average) better breath control that the (average) professional singer might have might support this, but I suspect that the reason is economic.  Any activity generating aerosol has an associated risk, but if it's likely to cost the cash-strapped government, then forget the risk - after all, it's only small!

My own view is that if the situation has improved to the point where people can gather indoors for social activity, socially distanced, then the risk is probably low enough to include singing, provided that steps are taken to reduce the risk.  The main one to my mind is ventilation.  If you as a singer are generating aerosol which just might be infectious, then the ventilation needs to be good enough to get rid of the aerosol before it reaches anyone else in the room.  This is not easy to ensure indoors.   Of course, vaccination and testing will reduce the risk of generating infectious aerosol.     And note that since 17th May when the latest changes took place, infections are on the rise again, especially the Indian variant, and I'm told that the r-number has increased again to above 1.  Another wave seems imminent?

I have been sent the details of a petition to the government to lift the 6 singers restriction.  If you think that it is appropriate to do this, you can sign the petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586559
I would be interested to know your views (some have already emailed me - thanks for that).

13 May : The signs are that we are at last successfully emerging from the Covid epidemic in this country, and I'm hopeful that we will be able to resume normal-ish rehearsals in September.  Before then, I'm planning to have a few informal Thursday evening sings outdoors, and I'll publish details of these as soon as I can confirm them - probably just a few days' notice since it will be weather-dependent. 
Meanwhile, you may like to join Ben Ellin (conductor of Slaithwaite Phil.) for a Come & Sing (including parts of Vivaldi Gloria, Mozart Requiem, Vaughan Williams Dona nobis pacem).

4 February : We are still required to "stay at home" so no singing together yet, I'm afraid.   I passed 70 some months ago, but have not yet been called for vaccination; I think that we ought not to meet fully until most of us have been vaccinated, but I will arrange a sing-song for those keen to re-start as soon as it becomes practicable.  Meanwhile, stay safe, and keep your voices exercised at home.  JUST RECEIVED EMAIL TODAY 4 Feb - Self isolation choir is planning a performance online of Mahler's 8th - Symphony of 1000, one of the most exciting choral pieces to perform, not often done because of the forces needed.  Why don't you join in? - see https://www.theselfisolationchoir.com/mahler-symphony-no-8

2 January 2021 : Quite a few members indicated that you would like to start singing together again in the New Year.  Now that vaccinations have started, it's looking more likely that we may be able to re-start soon, but also the infection rate locally has increased, and I don't wish to add you or me to the list of those infected.  I do hope to be able to organise something perhaps towards the end of January, but it's likely to be restricted in numbers.  I'll be more specific as soon as I can.
Meanwhile, you can still join in with various "lockdown choirs".  The Self-Isolation choir starts rehearsals for Mozart's Requiem on Monday 4th January - details at https://www.choraline.com/the-self-isolation-choir.

9 December : Members should have received an email from me that I sent by MailChimp a few days ago.  If not, you can sign up for future emails by clicking  here. There are further details about the email newsletter towards the bottom of this page.  The news that vaccines are now becoming available means that we can look forward to meeting again, but I doubt whether we can have a full concert before the summer 2021.  However, if we can meet, maybe in small groups, from early 2021, I will arrange for that to happen.  We will in any case postpone the Brahms Requiem until we can resume full rehearsals - we will restart with something simpler.  Many thanks to those who have replied to my emails - I would appreciate opinions from other members too - do please let me know your views on returning to sing.  My email address is further down this page.

27 October : Many thanks to those members who have written to me in response to the newsletter I sent out some days ago - another will follow shortly.  A few have wondered if we can arrange something online, but I feel that this would have only a small response.  For those who miss singing and want to take part in something online, I do recommend the various online choirs that are offering this.  The Self-Isolation choir is linked to below (in my paragraph of 28th July).  I have today received an invitation for singers to join in an online production of Mozart's Requiem - this sounds exciting, and I do recommend members to give this a go if you want to sing.  It's at https://www.runbysingers.org/virtual-vienna

2 September : We now as an amateur society have government permission to meet to rehearse, subject to social distancing, and the guidelines also suggest other precautions to avoid virus spreading.  We are also subject to conditions set by the owners of the room we hire for rehearsals.  All of these combine to make it impossible currently to resume rehearsals, and I would imagine that many of our members would be quite diffident about returning at the moment.  So the present view is that we will not prepare for a November or December concert, but hope to resume rehearsals in January 2021, deferring our planned programme for 2020 by a year.  However, if it's possible to meet in December, we will organise a "Come and Sing" event in place of our planned December concert (December 12th), singing perhaps part of "Messiah" with some Christmas music. 

We have had a communication from tenor Jonathan Hanley, who has been one of our soloists on a few occasions in  recent years:

I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. You may remember I came to sing for you in Holmfirth on a few occasions while I was studying at York. I am now a freelance singer and part of my work includes being a member of Stile Antico, the early music vocal ensemble. We’re performing in a special online festival called ‘Live from London’, which will showcase amazing ensembles such as The Sixteen, Voces8, the Academy of Ancient Music, and Stile Antico are delighted to be a part of it. Concerts will be broadcast weekly from 1st August. I hope you will consider joining us virtually for it!

Season tickets are priced keenly at £80 for all 10 events, whilst tickets for individual concerts are available at £12.50. Stile Antico’s performance, Treasures of the English Renaissance, which features stunning music by Tallis, Byrd, Sheppard and others, will be streamed as-live on September 26th. All tickets include full on-demand access to the broadcast(s) they cover until 3rd October, and subsequently to post-produced concert film(s) in 4K UHD from 4th-31st October.

The festival has been structured to help support all these ensembles financially, helping us to offset some of the losses suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ordering tickets through Stile Antico will further benefit us at no additional cost to you. You may also add a donation to the group, should you so choose. You can buy tickets at www.stileantico.co.uk/livefromlondon.

28 July: There's been very little change in the guidelines for choral societies, so it seems unlikely that we will be resuming normal activities in the near future.  I had hoped that we would be able to perform the Brahms Requiem as our November concert, and whilst this isn't definitely off, it's looking less likely.

My church choir has been continuing to sing - at home - to tracks I've prepared, and Jim Morgan and I have put the recordings together and created choral videos which we've put out each Sunday since lockdown started.  We've managed an anthem each week in addition to hymns (including some we couldn't sing live because there aren't enough of us, but one singer can record more than one part!) : these can be found on New Mill church's website newmillpc.org.uk .  As a result of this, Holmfirth Choral has taken a back seat - but I have recommended members to consider the Self Isolation Choir - which is still expanding and I'm getting more emails about their activities.  Do look them up.

20 April:  Chris Pulleyn (who played one of the pianos in Carmina Burana, and sang tenor solos for us) was to have organised a celebratory concert, which was cancelled.  So he instead streamed a concert online on Saturday 25th April, 7pm, on YouTube.  You can watch this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=floj8oiNcss

3 April:  I've had several more emails from ChoraLine about singing at home - some of you may be interested in this, and the details are on the ChoraLine website.  Do let me know please if you are taking part in any of these activities.
29 March: email from ChoraLine about singing Messiah at home.  See below, and the
Self Isolation Choir website.
28 March:  We are postponing the March concert until Sunday November 8th.   (This becomes the 3rd concert of the 2019-20 season).  The three concerts of the 2020-2021 season will take place hopefully on 12 December 2020,  20 March 2021, and a date in June/July to be decided.

17 March:  CORONAVIRUS - we are now following government advice, and SUSPENDING OUR THURSDAY REHEARSALS until further notice, most likely the end of the summer break, but watch this space!
12 March:  CORONAVIRUS - we have decided to postpone our March concert, to a date to be decided, possibly in September.

REHEARSALS when re-started will be at Holmfirth Methodist Church, Thursdays 7.30 until 9.15 (normally).    New members welcome!
As you know, we are low in numbers particularly in the tenor and bass sections - if you know of any able tenors and basses, do please invite them.

March Concert: We have been fortunate to borrow a set of Brahms Requiem copies locally, enough for all members.  However if anyone insists on buying a copy, we are using the Peters Edition (EP 3672).   This edition (each page has the number 10115 at the bottom) was first published almost 100 years ago, and can be freely downloaded from imslp (but has 95 pages of music), but is still in print.  The publishers price is £8.95, and it's available at musicroom.com at that price, but amazon.co.uk and ebay.co.uk both have copies available  more cheaply (search for EP3672 under books).

20 March 2021 (Holmfirth Civic Hall) - Mozart Mass in C minor K427;  Beethoven Mount of Olives.   CANCELLED
Summer 2021, date, venue and programme to be decided

We are affiliated to MAKING MUSIC, an organisation which provides resources for choirs and other music groups throughout the UK and beyond.

SIGN UP to the Members' Newsletter - this will be emailed using MailChimp only infrequently (because the information will be on this page anyway) and will be used primarily for emergency purposes, e.g. if there is a short-notice rehearsal or concert cancellation or alteration.  You can sign up by clicking   here;  Mailchimp allows you to unsubscribe at any time too.  The MailChimp database is fully compliant with GDPR [General Data Protection Regulations].

YouTube videos worth a view:
Brahms Requiem:  The reduced orchestration we will be using : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh7xf_QsJO4   or, better (?)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqwCYUbS2Y4
                             BBC Prom recording (with Bryn Terfel):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSvmzItraLU

Rehearsal Aids:
ChoraLine have produced a new "app" allowing you to download rehearsal material - see  www.choralineapp.com - I have fliers available at rehearsal for this.  The app is free, but there may be a charge for the downloads, which are likely to be of much higher quality than the free material I have previously recommended (mentioned below).

I've  been told about a music teacher who records rehearsal CDs and has built up quite a reputation, I believe.  You can order your own part from him.  Some recordings seem to be piano only, others include a vocal line.   He is called Quintus Benziger, on 01799 586269, and his business is the Saffron Choral Prompt.
See also:  http://www.saffronchoralprompt.co.uk/    and   http://www.quintusbenziger.co.uk/    for further details.

There is also http://www.cyberbass.com/ which offers part learning aids, including Brahms Requiem.  This site has been highly recommended by a few people I've spoken to.

A good source of midi files which are useful for playing parts through if you have a computer is http://www.learnchoralmusic.co.uk/
Covered by this site:   Handel's Messiah   Brahms' German Requiem (but I'm told that there are a few difficulties with the Brahms files - I've not checked them myself.  http://www.cyberbass.com/  has been recommended to me as an alternative.
The midi player program I have mentioned before, MidiPlay_v2p6.exe  (actually this link is to a later version) will allow you to play files from this site, and adjust the volume of your own part to suit your learning.

We will perform the Brahms German Requiem in German rather than in English translation - many of you want to do this, and certainly the work was written to be performed in German.  That being the case, there are several online aids to pronunciation - see YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ilw_aW0ncz0  or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxbvdwBwBhE .  There's also a written guide to pronunciation, with a translation, at https://www.choraline.com/files/Brahms_Pron_Guidebook.pdf
Margaret Conroy's daughter, Frau Ciaran Barthel, who has lived in Germany with her husband for the past six years, and whose daily language in German, has kindly recorded the Requiem text. She has repeated each section twice, with the number at the beginning.  Her recording can be found in two versions - her original in .aac format, or my conversion of that to .mp3 format. (Either should play on Windows Media Player).

We still have a number of items for sale, proceeds to Holmfirth Choral Funds, including:  our 2002 CD Holmfirth in Harmony (which includes Last of the Summer Wine and Pratty Flowers, hated by some but loved by others!!!);  our 50th anniversary souvenir booklet,  a recipe book (recipes submitted by members a few years ago), and still a few copies of Postcard Pops, a cassette (if you remember these!) made some years before the CD, and also with performances of those favourite(!) pieces.   Speak to me or email me for details or to buy one.  These are of course also for sale to people outside the society (who may or may not be viewing this members' page!).

Geoffrey Lockwood


Please click here to go to The Self Isolation Website

Be ahead of the game ...

Learn to use the Choraline App - please click here

Thank you and please stay at home to stay safe and keep singing every day - you may wish to try our graded vocal exercises recording which has been specially made to warm up your vocal chords and keep you voice in excellent working order - please click here to hear a sample - also available on the App

An email received from Phillip Tolley:

The latest edition (February 2020) of the British Choirs on the Net ‘Chorister’ Newsletter is now available online at http://www.choirs.org.uk/chorister/2020/feb2020.pdf

 Please feel free to share this newsletter which I hope you will find both useful and interesting - feel free to print it off, forward or simply ignore.

 If you would like to view past editions of the ‘Chorister’ Newsletter please visit http://www.choirs.org.uk/chorister.htm

 Thank you,     Phillip Tolley

For those new to this mailing British Choirs on the Net,  www.choirs.org.uk,  is a free listing of over 4000 choirs across the UK.  Listings are both alphabetical and geographical.  The site was originally set up in 1995 to help people who were relocating to a new area/town/city to find new choirs to join. Since then it has grown into so much more, but retains the UK’s largest free listing of choirs at its core. To see how email data is collected and how it is used please visit www.choirs.org.uk/mailings.html



 British Choirs on the Net is a member of the Singing Network UK and an associate member of the Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD)

Several of you took part in the RSCM Festival in Leeds Cathedral on 23rd May 2015.  If you are not on my local church music mailing list, and you would like to receive information about upcoming events of interest to choir members, you can sign up the the mailing list at https://hudds.org.uk/churchmusic .   I've also some spare music copies from that event for sale at £3.50 each. 

Please try to communicate information with those of your colleagues who might not have access to web pages such as this.
G.L.  688487