The Singing Day attracts both Choir members and visitors for an enjoyable, relaxed but hard- working day discovering musical works. Tea, coffee and biscuits are served during the day. Singers may bring a picnic lunch or patronise nearby shops and hostelries. The day ends with an informal performance for any friends or family who care to attend. All details and timings are on the form available at www.bollfestchoir.org.uk
Sir Edward Elgar and his music are often considered quintessentially English. But as a Roman Catholic living in a time of deep prejudice, he always felt an outsider in his own country, exacerbated by his self-doubt, which only his wife Alice and close friends could mollify. His two symphonies are more laments for the state of the world than celebrations of Empire or Monarchy, and he hated the words – Land of Hope and Glory – that were imposed on his best known tune. His musical language and structures – he was self-taught – owe far more to Wagner than to the English tradition. He wrote no operas, however, and honoured (and indeed challenged) the English choral tradition and the Three Choirs Festival with three mighty oratorios, Gerontius, The Apostles, and The Kingdom. In recent years, the Hallé’s Sir Mark Elder has done more than anyone to enlighten us and reassess our perceptions of this outstanding composer. Although a famous photo shows Elgar as a moustachioed English country gent cycling in his beloved Malvern Hills, he felt socially and culturally more comfortable in the hills of Catholic Bavaria. His holidays there with Alice transformed him: nowhere was he happier and more carefree. In 1894, Elgar set Six Songs from the Bavarian Highlands. Alice devised the poems based on Bavarian folksongs, and although the music is Elgar’s own it is very much influenced by the melodies and rhythms of local folk dance. Elgar was an outstanding composer of lighter music, and this is a shining example.
If time and progress permits, we may also sample some settings of Afro-Caribbean spirituals from Over Jordan by contemporary composer Alan Simmons, who writes very effectively for choirs of all ages and abilities.
The music making and insights into it are in the hands of Donald Judge, with expert piano accompaniment from Rosalind Hall.
It’s essential to book the singing Day in advance especially as the stock of copies may limit numbers. Any singers who has their own copy of the Elgar is welcome to say so on the form and to use it. Visit www.bollfestchoir.org to either book and pay online or to download the form and post it with a cheque to the address given.
The images show Bollington Festival Choir by Nola McGaul; Edward Elgar posing for the camera in 1931 (Wikipedia Commons Public Domain); and Alpspitze and Waxenstein as seen from the St. Martinstrasse in Garmisch – the Bavaria Elgar adored. Author Octagon:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Octagon Used unmodified and licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.