Summertown singers 2021

Oxford ‘staycation’

11 – 15 August

At last, the Summertown Singers gathered. With two failed attempts to sing in Porto casting a long shadow, our MD proposed a ‘singing staycation’. And so, on Wednesday 11 August, we held the first of our four rehearsal sessions in the churchyard of St. Michael’s. Such was the appetite to sing together that our usual numbers (about 20) were augmented and over 40 of us benefitted from Duncan’s encouragement and enthusiasm – a wonderful way to gainsay the gloomy summer. Some habits die hard for the Summertown Singers and all our rehearsals were followed by a glass or two of wine accompanied by animated oenological discussion!

We were lucky. The weather held and the many black clouds headed the other way when they saw us. All our rehearsals, and the Sunday afternoon informal sing-through, were held al fresco. Our a cappella repertoire included the familiar and the new. The Byrd Four part Mass, Tchaikovsky’s glorious Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (a far cry from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, to coin a phrase) and – new to all the singers – Hodie Maria Virgo by Marenzio made up the sacred repertoire. This was complemented by Parry’s There rolls the deep, Elgar’s As torrents in summer and Foresters, sound the cheerful horn by Henry Rowley Bishop, no doubt chosen to honour the Summertown Singers tradition of always including at least one reference to Bacchus in the repertoire.

Everyone enjoyed the staycation. We began as a somewhat croaky rabble, most of us not having sung outside the living room for months, and ended with a very respectable sing through, appreciated by our audience, the friends and family dotted around the churchyard. We are very indebted to Duncan for making it all happen, and to the Church for allowing us free rein of the lovely churchyard and garden. Porto it wasn’t but, my word, how making music cheered up the summer.

Catrin Roberts (soprano)

Here are links to pdfs of what was sung:
Byrd Mass for four Voices (except the Credo and Benedictus)
Marenzio Hodie Maria virgo
Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (No 1 only, pp.6-7)
Parry There rolls the deep
Bishop Foresters, sound the cheerful horn
Elgar As torrents in summer