♫ Now I confess that I love Holst's arrangement of Christine Rosetti's aching nostalgic hymn "In the Bleak Midwinter". Just sing it straight - it don't need tremolo, descant or trills - and not tooooo slow. It's a curious mixture of evocative rural landscape and religious sentiment. I spent a while trying to trick about with the lyrics to make an ironic attack on The Suits and government education policy. But Rosetti's poem doesn't scan in a tum ti tum ti way so you can't easily just count syllables and replace cher-u-bim with pres-i-dent. And the reason why this piece is chosen by professional choirs is because the tune is challenging. Eventually, I threw all my efforts in the bin and went back to the drawing board.
A Christmas Carol. When we were growing up in the 1960s, my Dad had a couple of dozen vinyl LPs. Two of which were of songs by Tom Lehrer. Who?never-'eard-of-'im! Tom Lehrer was a child prodigy who excelled at both Math and Music - he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. He has been recognised, by no less than Daniel 'Potter' Radcliffe as "the funniest and cleverest man of the 20thC". Like young Daniel, we kids internalised every song on those two LPs. The advantages of choosing to sing that song last Friday were manifold:
- I knew all the words
- The tune is straight-forward
- The rhythm is honky-tonk
- It's all over in 90 seconds.
♫ Notes on sex-ratio.
- 10F:1M The choir mobilised by our College Chaplain. This is consonant with my varied experience in drum circles, samba schools and song camps: participating women outnumber men by about 10 to 1. Men aren't much interested in getting in touch with their inner selves. They'd rather be making inner shelves in a kitchen cupboard.
- 2F:14M The Engineering Faculty choir. The Institute is really woefully behind the times. But that ratio is better than, day U.Birmingham, School Eng where The Boy did his M.Eng. - there 5F:95M
- 3F:9M The Institute Senior (Grade 6 and above) Management Team.
♫ Two sequels
- Chatting later on in the concert, it turned out that one of our choral backbone a) could play a guitar and at a pinch a banjo b) knew the difference between a key-change and a major fifth and, most importantly c) was happy to be Weihnachtskapellmeisterzweitausendneunzehn. I'm delirah about thus passing the conductor's baton.
- After the concert but before lunch, a lady of about my age came up from Finance to tell us how much she'd enjoyed hearing Tom Lehrer again. Her favourite song being The Masochism Tango. It was nice to know that we'd made one person in the room happy.