Our 2020/21 season came to an end with our final rehearsal on Tuesday May 27th. It’s been a very strange year, as we’ve been unable to meet physically, but fortunately we have managed to keep active through weekly video rehearsals and Zoom sessions. A big vote of thanks must go to our musical director John Dexter for facilitating this by recording a series of rehearsal videos each week throughout the year for members to follow at home on Tuesday evenings. We are still unsure of the situation in September but we are hoping to be able to get together again in some form for our weekly rehearsals every Tuesday evening in the Lutherhaus, Adelaide Road, Dublin 2.
As a memento of our rehearsals in lockdown some of the choir members remotely recorded one of the pieces that we worked on over the last term, ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ by Fauré. Each member recorded themselves at home, the individual recordings then being mixed with a keyboard accompaniment (played by John Dexter) and a solo cello (played by John’s son Patrick) to produce the composite performance. You can see and hear the result at https://youtu.be/ZPbH9ON_tCQ.
As the German Embassy in Dublin is not able to organise their traditional Christmas Concert this year, they have asked the European Embassies in Ireland for their favourite Christmas song, which they will post on their Facebook and Instagram sites during Advent.
As part of this project, the Goethe Choir has been asked to represent the German Embassy and in response to this request we have recorded the traditional German song ‘O Tannenbaum’. As we are currently unable to meet for rehearsal, choir members recorded themselves individually at home and the recordings were then mixed together for a composite video, conducted by our music director John Dexter.
The embassy will launch the project by posting our video together with a contribution from ambassador Deike Potzel on Sunday November 29th, the first Sunday in Advent. This will be followed in stages during Advent by posts of contributions from the embassies of Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Hungary, Greece, Latvia, Denmark, Cyprus and Malta and from the European Commission Representation in Ireland. The final post will be on December 24th.
Posts will be published in the late afternoon and can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/GermanEmbassyDublin/ and https://www.instagram.com/GermanEmbassyDublin/
As the choir is currently unable to meet physically during the Covid-19 emergency, we are continuing with our weekly rehearsals online. In conjunction with this, we are inviting anyone with an interest in choral singing to take part in our online rehearsals this autumn/winter. There will be no audition process and all are invited to join in free of charge.
Weekly rehearsals take place at 7.30 every Tuesday evening through a series of bespoke videos devised and filmed exclusively for the Goethe Choir by conductor John Dexter, with links to the videos circulated in advance by email.
Each video explores a selected piece of music with John taking Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses through their lines (and their paces) in a dynamic choral session with at-home choristers actively singing along under his instruction, and with his accompaniment. Warm up videos from well known guest experts also feature as part of the Tuesday night fun. This season’s programme includes William Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus and Bach’s Magnificat.
Anyone who is interested in taking part is invited to register via our website at goethechoir.ie/join-us-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.
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.
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).