An Unexpected Journey

Prior to their performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria in Vivaldi’s Angels at Christ Church Spitalfields, one of our Women sing East members reflected on the journey on which putting the work together has taken them.

Working towards our performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria has been, for this member of Women sing East at least, a series of small shocks. The first of these occurred when the idea was mooted towards the end of the Summer term – it felt rather like a tunnel into which we would enter at the beginning of the Autumn term with no way out until it ended with a concert, and the tunnel felt narrow… just one piece of music? For some the unfamiliarity of baroque music has caused anxiety or even temporary departure. For me it has been a return to ‘safer ground’, a sound world more familiar than that of much of the music we have sung in the past. I have been unsure, though, about defecting from the choir’s perceived strength of delivering stomping performances of jazz and blues with a folk tune or two thrown in and perhaps a classical number when pushed, all of which I have so loved being part of.

Vivaldi's Angels

Women sing East perform Vivaldi’s Glora. Image: James Berry

More recently I was startled to tears by a brief recording of one of our rehearsals made on an iPhone at which we sang the Cum Sancto Spiritu for the first time, albeit in Christ Church Spitalfields and accompanied by Jonathan Williams. Although the timings were a little muddy, the purity of sound – the one voice – was literally overwhelming.

Just last week I migrated from practising at home on Dropbox to plugging headphones into the CD deck and playing the Andrew Parrott recording with the volume turned right up straight into my head. I was thrilled anew by this glorious music that so lifts the spirits and no longer seems quite so impenetrable.

Finally last night’s rehearsal with Christian Curnyn drew us all upright and removed us from the security blanket of the score for most of the evening, releasing a much more confident, positive sound in all four parts.

The final shock will come at the performance when accompanied by trumpets and confronted by a full church but whatever the outcome, the singing will be the wholehearted culmination of a term’s committed energies on the part of everybody, not least Laka, Jonathan, Becks and all the Spitalfields Music team urging us on!

Women sing East member


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