If you're a theatre goer or a fan of Shakespeare you might know that mentioning the title 'Macbeth' is supposed to bring bad luck. So, it's normally referred to as 'The Scottish play'. Church goers have a similar taboo during Lent with the word 'alleluia' or 'hallelujah' (referring to these as the A or H words) which both have the same meaning - 'praise the Lord'. The reason for this is because we're supposed to be saving up our joy and praise for Easter day when Jesus is resurrected from the dead.
So, when it came to Judith and David's wedding in the middle of Lent, an eyebrow or two was raised when they asked the choir so sing Handel's 'Hallelujah chorus' for the bridal procession. No problem we thought, it only mentions the 'H' word 48 times and there's always the absolution of sins on Sunday morning!
The bridal procession was fabulous and the happy couple chose two of Howard Goodall's pieces; The Lord is my shepherd and Love divine all loves excelling. The choir sang beautifully and everyone said how much they had enjoyed the ceremony. Judith and David are pictured below with the choir.
While we were all together, we decided it would be a great opportunity to go out for dinner so we visited Jumbo Chinese restaurant and had a great evening. My thanks to Edd and Alma for organising this.
Holly (aka Donut) took part in a judo competition on Mothers day which was also the day on which the clocks went forward. This meant a 6am start to get ready and travel to the competition. Guess who was the most unpopular member of the household that morning! Holly got a bronze medal and is pictured below proudly showing it off. Well done Donut.
On Palm Sunday we had our annual performance of 'Olivet to Calvary'. We first performed 'Olivet' in 2010 after we'd met Ken Dodd in the cathedral where we had just sung evensong. He asked if we'd ever sung it as it was one of his favourites. This was the inspiration behind us learning it and performing it the following year.
Nine years later and it has become a firm fixture in our calendar and, with Lady Anne's permission, it has now become a memorial performance to Doddy. We were delighted that Anne came with friends from St. John's, Knotty Ash to listen to the performance. Singers from all over the diocese came to join us and we were joined by guest soloists Stuart Keen and Damian O'Keeffe whose sublime singing always enthrals us. We were also delighted to welcome back Richard Lea on the organ with his superbly sensitive accompaniment. The performance was magnificent and everyone who came to sing or listen enjoyed the evening very much. We're very much looking forward to our 10th anniversary performance next year.
After the performance Edd presented Anne with a portrait of Ken that he'd created. Anne was overwhelmed at such a beautiful gift.
Holy week is always a very busy time for the choir and the music this year was as great as ever. I think it's the whole compass of emotions that the music covers which makes the week so interesting and varied. The styles of music ranged from Tudor to Taizé and I hope there was something for everyone to enjoy. We can't escape the drama of what Emma termed 'the week that changed history' and some of the music does reflect this, especially the anthems where the choir are singing 'crucify him'! On Good Friday, we decided to relearn the reproaches to sing while the congregation venerate the cross. It's been over 15 years since we sang these and it was good to have a change for this part of the service.
Simon has recently completed a first aid training course with the St. John's ambulance and his first assignment was on-duty at Aintree for the Grand National festival. In early May, he attended a workshop for choral and organ scholars in Oxford and got to play some of the organs in the chapels there. He was invited to play the voluntary before evensong which was a great highlight. Simon said "The best part of the trip was meeting other young organists and hearing each other play. It was encouraging to see so many people my age performing familiar pieces and it motivated me to keep practicing so I never lose this rare skill in the years to come during university."
Just after he got back from Oxford it was time for his first ever organ recital as part of the Neston music festival. His programme went down very well. Simon wrote "The recital went well. It's always exciting to perform for people but this was different as I had to fill thirty full minutes. The practice paid off, as the nerves set in, but after playing for a while I was comfortable enough to forget about the audience and just enjoy it, just in time to perform the Bach pieces which went smoothly. I am very happy with the result and look forward to learning new repertoire."
This is an amazing achievement to be able to perform a recital and only 2 years after first starting to learn the organ and we congratulate Simon on his achievements. Judging by the smile on his face, I guess this picture was taken after the recital.
And finally, it was with great delight that we heard about the birth of Eve and Dave's baby. A beautiful baby boy weighing 9lb 7oz on Wednesday 1st May. They have named him Jacob and he visited church for the first time on Sunday 12th May with his proud mummy, daddy and big sister. Our congratulations to Eve, Dave and Ella on the wonderful addition to their family.