News

GC notices 11/09/2020 – earlier homework

Welcome back everyone! It was lovely to hear some of you again on Zoom after such a long break. Also, thank you for the constructive feedback, which hopefully we can use to improve things. It will be a learning curve for all of us at the start, but I think John did extremely well and I totally agree with Traudi and Brian that when John spoke on the videos I felt he was speaking directly to me and nobody but me – his face and eyes are so expressive! I think in summery we were delighted to be back singing even if it is in this new format. I think, as John already knew of course, that we all struggled with the Bach but found the Byrd very manageable. Also, we will be giving more warning on what homework to expect as requested. It is true that with this type of rehearsal we will need to supplement our learning of notes at home. So extra and early homework for all, see below 🙂

* Homework for 15th September:

John intends to rehearse Bach no 4 bars 1-9 and Byrd bars 23-47.

* Homework for 22nd September:

John intends to rehearse Bach no 4 bars 10-20 and Byrd bars 1-22.

* Rehearsal tracks:

I have sung the Magnificat three times before and still didn’t get all my entries with just the limited accompaniment and without the other sections to give me some of my cues. I suspect most of us will need all the help we can get therefore. As you know, we have rehearsal tracks on our website already, which are good as you can slow the speed down. However, I did come across some sung youtube tracks which emphasize the different sections, which are a little more pleasing to the ear and also are little better at providing context to your line. They also have a rolling score which I find really helpful. The drawback is that we can’t slow these ones down. Anyway in case it helps I attach a document with the links. A warning though with these tracks – they do not Italianate the words (e.g. Magnificat is pronounced almost phonetically, which is not at all what John wants from us!), so please do keep that in mind and use the pronunciation that John wants from us.

Several members have highlighted that the RTÉ Philharmonic choir is also singing the Magnificat and that they are using a rehearsal track app called Carus, which is I hear quite good and the speed can be slowed down. However singers need to by scores (€7.99/score). So I guess that will be up to each member to decide on for themselves.

* New changes to the website – message from Geraint:

In order to try to improve communication from the committee and between choir members, we’ve made some changes to the website.  The main one is that there is now a ‘Members news’ page in the members’ area of the website, which will be used to post news and information intended for choir members only. This is in addition to the existing ‘News’ page, which is used to post news items for the general public and which generates the choir newsletter emails.  This will continue to be used as currently.  The members’ news page will be used to hold internal communications to members, including copies of Sophia’s weekly emails, and is also available for choir members to add items which would be of interest or relevance to other members.  If you’d like to add a new entry, please send it via email to myself (admin@goethechoir.ie) or Sophia (info@goethechoir.ie).    Members will have the opportunity to comment or respond to posted news items, so we’d like to encourage you to visit this page regularly and let us know your thoughts on posted items or any other aspect of choir life.  Go to http://goethechoir.ie/category/member-news/ to check it out. As usual, you will need to log in with userid ‘chorister’ and password ‘123letmein’ to access the members’ area.

You can now also get access to an archive of information relating to the first 50 years of the choir‘s existence, by going to the Reference page in the members’ area (http://goethechoir.ie/members/documents/) and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.  The archive has been put together by Liam Shorten and contains concert programmes, posters, photos, press cuttings etc. from the early 1970s onwards and makes for some interesting and possibly nostalgic reading.  Thanks to Liam for making that information available to the choir.

Choir rehearsals resume – online

After an enforced break since our last rehearsal in early March this year, the Goethe Choir had planned to resume Tuesday evening rehearsals at the beginning of September at our normal rehearsal venue in the Lutherhaus, Adeilade Road in Dublin.  Unfortunately, due to the ongoing restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 emergency, getting together for rehearsals will not be possible for the foreseeable future.  The choir committee is currently putting in place a plan of action to resume physical rehearsals as soon as conditions permit, involving implementation of all the appropriate safeguards and procedures that will be required.

In place of our normal rehearsals, the choir will instead be undertaking online rehearsals every Tuesday evening under the leadership of our musical director John Dexter.  John will be directing the rehearsal remotely via video recordings to individual members in their own homes, which will be followed by an online Zoom session in real time to allow feedback from members and enable some social interaction.

We had planned to hold our annual Christmas concert in the National Concert Hall (NCH) in Dublin in early December, but as the NCH has announced that it will be closed until the end of the year, this concert has had to be cancelled.  The major work to be performed in this concert was J.S.Bach’s Magnificat.  However, we will be rehearsing this work online over the coming months (in addition to other works) and look forward to being able to give a public performance of it with audience some time in 2021.   Details of our performances next year will be released as soon as conditions allow us to go ahead and make plans to resume our concert activity.

In the meantime, the choir will continue its musical development under the guidance of our musical director John Dexter as best we can and hope that we will be able to get back together again to rehearse and perform in public as soon as possible.

Ode to Joy in the Phoenix Park

A few members of the choir met at 6pm on a warm and sunny Sunday evening 21st June to take part in the national Ode to Joy tribute to the country’s frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.  This was a nationally organised event to allow everyone in the country (from president Michael D. Higgins downwards) to show their appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice of frontline workers by singing or playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at the designated time, in multiple private and public locations throughout the country.  Special words had been composed for the occasion by Catherine Ann Cullen, Poetry Ireland Poet-in-Residence (https://www.odetojoy.ie).  Our performance took place at the bandstand in the hollow near the entrance to Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

It seems that we were not the only people with the idea of performing at this location, as after arriving we were joined by some members of the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and their families, who were planning to do the same and perform an instrumental version.  We ended up performing together, with singers being accompanied by instrumentalists, which turned out to be a happy partnership.

Given that Beethoven is sadly being robbed of some of the glory of the celebrations of the 250th anniversary of his birth this year, after performing the special version of Ode to Joy we decided to sing a choral arrangement of Beethoven’s original composition, followed by a couple more pieces from the choir’s repertoire.   Click here if you’d like to watch part of our Facebook livestream of the occasion.

As well as giving us the opportunity to pay our own tribute to frontline workers, it was also a great pleasure for some of us to meet and to sing together for the first time since our last rehearsal at the beginning of March.  Hopefully we’ll have more opportunities to meet and sing as lockdown restrictions are being eased over the coming weeks and months.

Goethe Choir in lockdown

The Goethe Choir may not be rehearsing at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not singing together.  Under the direction of conductor John Dexter, we’ve put together a video performance of members of the choir singing “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen” by Heinrich Isaac from their own homes during lockdown.   “Innsbruck” has been a long-time favourite of the choir and has been sung by us in many locations in Ireland and throughout Europe (including an impromptu performance as we were passing Innsbruck by coach, on our way to the Alta Pusteria choral festival in the Dolomites in June 2018), so it’s very appropriate that we should choose to give a virtual performance of this piece to create a record of this unique period in the choir’s history.   You can join our virtual audience by going to the home page of our website or to our Youtube channel at https://youtu.be/QRQTNpBg7RA.

And if you’d like to hear and see us singing “Innsbruck” as we were passing Innsbruck itself, you can see it as part of a video of our memorable trip to the South Tyrol in 2018 by going to https://youtu.be/AIfANIxJ_2g.

Beethoven concert on 3 May postponed

As you may already be aware, our Beethoven anniversary concert, due to take place on 3 May in the National Concert Hall, has been postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency.  We had all been looking forward very much to this concert to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and especially to the opportunity of performing Beethoven’s wonderful Choral Fantasy with our distinguished piano soloist John O’Conor, in a repeat of a performance of the work given by him with the choir back in December 1976.

It is very disappointing for all concerned that this concert cannot take place as scheduled.  However, it is hoped to reschedule the concert for a later date towards the end of the year.  Information about this will be posted on the website when available and distributed via newsletter to our subscribers.

In the meantime, if you’d like to hear and see the choir singing while we’re taking an enforced break, you can do so by going to our website at goethechoir.ie.  Performances available include snippets from a recent concert in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin (including Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, Haydn’s Missa Brevis and Zadok the Priest by Handel) and a memorable performance in the National Concert Hall in 2013 of the Te Deum from Tosca with renowned Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel (at http://goethechoir.ie/about-us/repertoire).

Covid-19 emergency

Due to government restrictions introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 emergency and in order to safeguard the health of our members and of our music director, all choir rehearsals have been suspended for the foreseeable future.

As we previously announced, the Early Music concert which was due to take place today (March 22) in Trinity College was cancelled – we hope to reschedule this concert for a later date when circumstances permit.  The next scheduled concert for the choir is on May 3 in the National Concert Hall in Dublin – details here.   However, given the length of time that measures to combat the virus are likely to be in place, it is uncertain whether this event will be able to go ahead or not.  More specific information about the concert will be published on the website when it becomes available.

In the meantime, we hope that all choir members and supporters stay safe and healthy and we look forward to rehearsing together and performing in public again soon.

Concert on 22 March cancelled

The Goethe Choir’s planned concert to celebrate European Early Music Day, which was due to take place on 22nd March in Trinity College Dublin, has unfortunately had to be cancelled due to government restrictions introduced to combat the ongoing Covid-19 emergency.  We are hoping to be able to reschedule this concert at a future date when conditions permit and will publish information on the website when it becomes available.

This is disappointing for all concerned but the choir is fully committed to taking all necessary actions to help limit or delay the spread of the virus in Ireland.  In this regard, all choir rehearsals have also been cancelled for the foreseeable future and will not resume until it is safe to do so.  We will continue to monitor the situation with regard to our planned Beethoven celebration concert in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, which is scheduled for May 3rd, and will release more information when we have it.

New choir archive available

For those who are interested in past performances of the Goethe Choir, an archive listing of concerts given by the choir since its foundation, together with a listing of all works performed by the choir during that time, is now available on the choir website at http://goethechoir.ie/about-us/repertoire.  This also gives an opportunity for longer-serving members of the choir to indulge in a little nostalgia, perhaps.

We owe a huge vote of thanks to Liam Shorten and Maire Owens for all the effort and time involved in collecting and collating this information,  and in getting it ready for publication.   Although perhaps they did have the compensation of  being able to relive personal memorable moments from the choir’s past in the process, of course….