December 2021

We were delighted to confirm our return to choir rehearsals at the start of the new academic year, commencing at 8.00pm on Tuesday 24th August at High Hilton Church. From Tuesday 28 September, rehearsals began at the earlier time of 7:30 p.m. but still lasted for one hour. There were two rehearsals in St Machar's Cathedral, on 16 and 30 November.

We had hoped to be able to perform in public on our normal date of 5 December but the hoped for relaxation of restrictions did not allow this. Instead, we were able to record on video a short programme of works in St Machar's Cathedral. The professionally produced video went live on YouTube on 22 December 2021.

In place of our normal public December concert in St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen Bach Choir, accompanied by Christopher Cromar on the organ and conducted by Peter Parfitt, performed a short programme of works on Saturday 4 December 2021 in the Cathedral, published on YouTube

I was glad - Parry
Ave verum corpus - Mozart
How lovely are Thy dwellings (German Requiem) - Brahms
Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein (St John Passion) - J.S. Bach

Rehearsals Under Covid Restrictions

In August 2021, our Musical Director, Peter Parfitt, wrote to members about his plans for the half session:

My goal this term is to reintroduce us all to the joys choral singing after a gap of over 18 months. Without a specific performance event to prepare for, I see this term as one of reminding ourselves about the art of choral singing and I will make it a process of teaching and re-learning. I didn't see the point in choosing a specific work to sing, and so this book is my solution. It is a collection of 54 anthems and motets. They range from the 16th to the 20th century, and there are works in 4 - 8 parts, both a cappella and accompanied. There are works in English, Latin, French, German, and Russian. Composers include Bach, Brahms, Bruckner, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Poulenc, Stravinsky, Palestrina, Rachmaninov, Monteverdi, Fauré and Verdi. There really is something for everybody. My plan is to learn a range of these works, covering different periods, styles, nationalities, tempos, tonalities etc. so that we have a rich and varied return to rehearsing and we can sing some familiar music whilst also learning some new music.

I submit here a list of the music that I plan to rehearse this term. Given that rehearsals are only 1 hour and we are not specifically working to a concert deadline at present, I am not being as prescriptive as usual. However, these are the pieces that I plan to cover, in the order in which I will introduce them. I did say that I would try to introduce one new item each week and I will try to stick to that promise, circumstances permitting. Should rehearsals revert to being 2 hours, this list will be superseded by a new plan. All items are from the anthology, European Sacred Music. I have tried to make some reference to the Christian calendar by recognising appropriate music for All Saints Day, Advent and Christmas.

1 Beatus Vir Monteverdi p 214
2 Cantique de Jean Racine Fauré p 103
3 Christus Factus Est Bruckner p 68
4 Geistliches Lied Brahms p 56
5 Bogoroditsye Dyevo Rachmaninov p 278
6 Crucifixus Lotti p 190
7 Tu es Petrus Palestrina p 258
8 Jubilate Deo Gabrieli p 118
9 O Quam Gloriosam Victoria p 355
10 Os Justi Bruckner p 75
11 Ave Maria Verdi p 337
12 Jauchzet dem Herren Schütz p 300
13 Revision of all music covered this term

We will be using the European Sacred Music book edited by John Rutter and published by Oxford University Press. If you do not already have a copy, please buy through this Amazon link or a local music shop.

On 4 December 2021, we filmed a performance of four works for public viewing, and rehearsals from 26 October onwards included these works as well as the works above which had not yet been covered. The works to be performed were:

Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein (St John Passion) - J.S. Bach
How lovely is Thy dwelling place (German Requiem) - Brahms
Ave verum corpus - Mozart
I was glad - Parry

Covid Precautions

We had limited rehearsals remaining before our filmed performance so requested full attendance, excepting any person who is screened out by the weekly Covid-19 questionnaire. Any live-streamers wishing to participate in the recording were asked to attend the Tuesday rehearsals to be held in St Machar's Cathedral on 16th and 30th November (the 23rd was to be at HH but was cancelled). We were unable to live-stream these two rehearsals but members were sent a link to video recordings.

Our rehearsals were shorter than usual, lasting for one hour with no break.  A rota for attendance was required, in line with the confirmed seating capacity of the venue, with social distancing applied in accordance with our COVID risk assessment*.  Once we knew exact numbers for each rehearsal we evaluated how we accommodate everyone safely.

*We had carried out a thorough risk assessment to ensure appropriate mitigation measures will be in place to make your return as safe as possible. 

Members were emailed a questionnaire on each rehearsal day, to be completee and submitted as soon as possible before the rehearsal. It contained a link to the live stream for those who are unable to attend in person.

Singers must check in on arrival and it will speed up entry if you have the Check In Scotland app on your smartphone - download it from the Apple Store or Google Play.

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Members were asked to read all the documents about the return to rehearsals and the procedures, important for everyone’s safety, they must follow.  The instructions in the documents were for the safety of all and the only way to get us back singing together again.  Members were asked to familiarise themselves with the content as soon as possible rather than leaving it until the last minute.

Arrangements for Cyclists

Members cycling to rehearsals in High Church Hilton were asked to take their cycles up a few steps to the Hilton Road entrance on the opposite side from our usual point of entry, where the door was open, then walk round to the normal entry door and join the queue to enter the church.  At the end of rehearsal they were asked to exit as instructed, following the one way system, and return to the Hilton Drive door from the outside to collect their cycles.


Aberdeen Bach Choir
Scottish Registered Charity Number SC008609

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