Music Notes - June 2021

Music Notes – June 2021

Future Music

Last month I invited people to contribute to a discussion on how music in our church might grow and develop post pandemic.

The response has been slow but I have had some interesting points of view which are very worthwhile sharing.

Not unexpectedly there is a strong wish to resume congregational hymn singing and even some who would like to sing the psalms, but alongside this there is also a hope that the choir will continue to “display its skills with introits, anthems and the like”. 

This is well summed up in one response which I am reproducing in full:-

The conclusions in St Oswald’s response to Shaping for Mission reveals that conflict exists so far as music is concerned.  “High quality worship with excellent music” was cited as a strength yet a weakness was said to be “The heavy emphasis on music and traditional worship”.  Perhaps these can both be true, but it is difficult to see how all can be satisfied.  Providing high quality in terms of music requires a high commitment from musicians in order to maintain standards and suggestions that such services become less frequent carries the risk that singers will turn away feeling undervalued.

There have been attempts at introducing alternate forms of musical worship from time to time but these have not been long lived and insufficient commitment has been cited for them failing to take hold.  I dislike it when people say “We tried that, and it does not work” feeling that perhaps the method of trying is at fault; so perhaps more exploration is needed.

With this background I wonder if there is a possibility of providing an opening for ‘different’ music and, at the same time, strengthening the Deanery with the choir periodically visiting other churches and the slots at St Oswald’s being musically different or more reflective. Just a thought.

In support of traditional worship it has been pointed out that while overall church attendance has fallen by two-thirds since the 1960s, attendance at traditional choral worship in the UK is on the rise, and has been for the past two decades. This trend is clearly seen in university chapels so it is by no means only the elderly who are drawn to worship by the beauty of the traditional liturgies and fine music. Certainly, here at St. Oswald’s, we have had a number of people who worship at other churches who are regulars at Choral Evensong because they appreciate the reflective type of worship that this offers.

My own feeling is that we should cherish the traditional while still innovating to see what other methods are available to attract non-churchgoers to St. Oswald’s.

So, if you haven’t expressed your view yet please do so. As I said last month, it would be good to hear from all viewpoints whether “you would prefer no music at all to those who would relish much more choral input and anywhere in between” Do send an email to putting future music in the subject line.

Bath Summer School 2021

Last month I announced the opening of our ‘Adopt a Chorister’ scheme to help fund this year’s RSCM Summer School which takes places from 23rd – 29th August in Bath.

The Summer School, which offers a week of intensive training and voice coaching given by some of the top choir trainers and voice coaches in the country, is regarded as a keystone in our chorister training year and it will be even more important this year given that most of the singers will have had no regular singing since March 2020.

The course fee is £450 per chorister which is good value since it includes a week’s full board, all music and tuition. As the choir is only allowed to perform in groups of 6 singers at present we have not been able to undertake any fund raising events so the generosity of our supporters is even more crucial than usual. All donations, no matter how small, will be gratefully received.

There are now forms available at the back of church or you can get them from the music pages on the Church’s website. Please make cheques payable to ‘St. Oswald’s P.C.C.’ and write ‘Adopt a Chorister’ on the reverse. If you are a tax payer you can increase your donation at no further cost by gift-aiding the donation. Just fill out a gift-aid envelope found in the pews or ask me for further details.

Thank you in advance for your generous support.

Mike Donkin

Director of Music.