An Update from Meurig and Fiona
Where many people have joined Gareth Malone's amazing Great British Chorus, we (Meurig and Fiona) instead happened to fall into the Homechoir Quarantine Choir and the Self-Isolation Choir conducted by Ben England already mentioned by Carolyn Pickering. This has proved very congenial -- and been a good way to keep in online musical contact with Meurig's sister Margaret, who also sings with these choirs. Margaret has introduced us to other online resources for choir members feeling the lack of singing together, such as Paul Ayres's PICPOQET series of talks. We found the PICPOQET introduction to Zadok the Priest (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZdWpDZqe8U) particularly interesting.
Meurig has also been busy revisiting and digitising pieces of music that he wrote many years ago. Two of these owe much to the interest in the composition of choral music that Jack and Mike have stimulated through their work with Spires over recent years. The first ('A Song for the Self-Isolation Choir') is based on a piano piece originally conceived as an exercise in musical plagiarism in 1966 to which Meurig has added words for an SATB chorus that reflect the strangeness of the experience of singing in isolation with the virtual presence of thousands of singers across the world. The second ('Elegiac Varations') is a more ambitious choral composition that integrates and extends a set of variations for piano trio and a setting of a poem by Walter de la Mare that were written in memory of much beloved relatives in the 1970s and 1980s. Though this is hardly an auspicious time to be composing choral music, the need for communal ways of expressing grief in the absence of traditional funeral ceremonies is something that has been much in evidence throughout lockdown, and that has been a motivating idea. Should you be interested, you can hear digitally synthesised versions of these two compositions at the following weblinks (you will probably need to open these links in the Chrome or Safari browsers):
All being well, you will find the text for these works displayed at these links: to play the audio in such a way that the words (sometimes in counterpoint) are highlighted at the appropriate times, you simply click on the 'Fullscreen' button at the bottom left. If you want to look at the full score, click on the title that is underlined at the top of the webpage and it will open as as a pdf document in another tab. Any feedback on these compositions from the Spires chorus would be much appreciated -- bearing in mind how privileged we are to have many singers with a deep knowledge and wide experience of choral music.
If you would like to get in touch please do contact Meurig and Fiona via email - firstname.lastname@example.org