On Saturday 26th October, we were lucky enough to have an amazing masterclass with Dan Ludford-Thomas organised for us by Music Durham. Dan was up in Durham for two days and as well as working with the Chamber Choir, he also gave other ensembles and soloists the chance to gain some constructive feedback and professional advice.
We worked on two of our pieces for our first term concert with him - Bach's Lobet den Herrn and Elgar's Deep in my Soul (part of his Four-Part-Songs composition). His work on the Bach with us brought to our focus the necessity of a sense of playfulness when singing Bach and bringing out smaller details within the densely polyphonic sections, so as not to bore or overwhelm the audience. He worked closely both with us as a choir and with Marcello to achieve the best sound and include nuanced phrasing to really electrify the piece. Similarly, with the Elgar, Dan highlighted the importance of harmonic grounding within the choir, drawing attention to the voice parts driving any harmonic modulations and changes, or in fact the parts anchoring them, and ensured the choir's focus was unanimous. It was an incredible experience to see how responsive the choir was to a guest conductor and Dan was hugely impressed. Marcello also gained some valuable one-on-one tuition from Dan throughout the masterclass, working with him on how to strengthen his pre-existing relationship with the choir and how best to convey this to the audience. As a choir, we really feel we have grown as an ensemble and will be able to work together even better as a group, something really important for a choir of only three weeks old!
Overall, the choir came away from the masterclass with a renewed energy and focus (and also incredibly proud of themselves!). Dan was incredible to watch and learn from as a musician, and as one of our basses said, "That was the best masterclass I have ever had. He articulated the things which I just couldn't verbalise. Amazing."
Thank you Dan, we hope to see you again!
If you want to hear us, please join us at St Margaret's Church, Crossgate at 4pm on the 30th November 2019 for our Michaelmas Term concert - "There is Sweet Music".