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wickedchorister



Joined: 27 Jun 2006
Posts: 175
Location: Britain

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:16 pm    Post subject: I am REALLY pissed off Reply with quote

Been drinking with the layclerks at my cathedral who basically say that the only role women have in cathedral choirs is in voluntary choirs. There seems to be no substance to their argument apart from tradition. Well wasnt slavery traditional?!!

Interested in your views on this
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lancecornea



Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 526
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's more to life than associating with drunken lay clerks
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Jason Evans



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a most touchy subject and I feared it would arise sooner or later on this forum. And now here it is. Crying or Very sad

I'll preface by saying that I currently work full time in London's financial sector, yet I have a degree in church music and substitute as organist on occasion. This I will be doing all Sundays this month. September will be very busy for me.

Side stepping your implications of "tradition", may I simply ask: have you heard the difference in sound between a men and boys choir, and one which use women?

Priory's recent series of the complete canticles of Howells make interesting listening. The Collegiate Singers (a very fine group, but one which use women) simply do not compare favourably with a men and boys counterpart. Howells clearly had the latter sound in mind when he wrote his settings.

This was forcibly brought home to me last May when I attended CE at the Malvern Priory. The "setting" was Dyson in D and the women did their best, yet the soprano part often failed to project properly, making hash out of the counterpoint. This was particularly evident in the big build-up to the Gloria beginning at measure 61. Thus the cathartic release of the Gloria never fully impacted. The end result was fatal to Dyson's conception.
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Heth



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 94
Location: Southampton

PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surely every performance is interpretation - when do we ever sing (or even know) exactly what the composer intended?

I would further suggest that the Evensong in Malvern Priory just had a poor soprano line.

Come on girls, back me up!
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wickedchorister



Joined: 27 Jun 2006
Posts: 175
Location: Britain

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the argument about what produces the 'right'/'traditional' sound is completely immaterial.

Of course Dyson in D was composed for treble voices, because that was the tradition at the time. In the same vein, what about music that was written for castrati? Should only castrati singers beable to sing this?

Surely there is room in cathedrals for all types of voices as long as they are good? I'm not suggesting mixed choirs, I'm just saying that each cathedral should have a range of 'cathedral' choirs and we should learn to appreciate different sounds rather than argue that one is better or more appropriate than the other.

The present system is one of hypocrisy considering that the church should be an emblem of equality. I dont think God minds whether its treble or soprano as long as we do our best and for the right reasons. Or may be this debate isnt about God?!!
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Jason Evans



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wickedchorister wrote:

Of course Dyson in D was composed for treble voices, because that was the tradition at the time. In the same vein, what about music that was written for castrati? Should only castrati singers beable to sing this?

Treble voices have always been a tradition in the English Church. Dyson wrote his setting with their sound in mind in the same way that his larger choral works (e.g. Canterbury Pilgrims ) were conceived for women. As a far as I know he did not actually object to women singing his music for trebles, but he was certainly a well equiped enough musician to know the basic difference in sound production.

For me it's a matter of preference. St. David's Cathedral have used girls since the 1960's, but I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed a recent CE there. I just don't think girls (or women) sound as good as boys in that repertoire.

As for the castrati issue, no one is going to argue that we should bring them back for the purpose of having authentic opera performances. Yet ask any knowledgeable opera buff and they will tell you that using (real) men or women is only an approximation of the sound and technique of the castrati.

That is my point. I'm not suggesting that there isn't room in cathedrals for all types of voices. As for what God thinks about this, I will leave that question to the theologians. Christianity has been a battlefield over what God thinks for 2000 years. Don't expect a resolution anytime soon.

Lighten up, wickedchorister. I'm not an adversary and would happily pound down as many pints in your company as you wish. Laughing
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stocky



Joined: 10 Mar 2006
Posts: 317
Location: Truro

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all! hope you are all well, i am enjoying life at new school, but hard to get home being some 3 hours away! but its only week 1 so im not complaining!

interesting topic....

The introduction of girl choristers at salisbury cathedral (rather controversial!) in 1991 was a good move i think! simply because it allowed women (albeit young) to have a role in cathedral music! the church needs to adapt to changing times. Principals are far different to those of 2000 years ago. not only was it good on the theological terms, but socially (of course! Wink )! so now the real question is, where do all the fit females in cathedral music hang out?
girls choirs around the country have different standards, i had the pleasure of meeting and greeting the Ripon girl choristers on their recent trip to Wales. the salisbury girls are (and will continue to be) very good indeed! (it also meant we had 2 less services to sing every week!!! Laughing )

cheers!

Tom

FIGHT THE POWER MY FEMALE BRETHREN!! Cool
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colin



Joined: 29 Aug 2006
Posts: 15
Location: Southampton

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Dyson wrote his setting with their sound in mind


Have you heard any recordings from the first half of the century? It may be boys, but they make a very different sound to boys' choirs today - partly a matter of fashion in vocal training, but also because voices are breaking much earlier, depriving boys' choirs of the much more mature sound they had. The 'authentic' sound is denied to all modern choirs - surely what matters is not lip service to performance practice, but the creation of a musically satisfying and well balanced whole?
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Heth



Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Posts: 94
Location: Southampton

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As for what God thinks about this, I will leave that question to the theologians.


Good idea! Wickedchorister and I both have Theology degrees!
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Jason Evans



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

colin wrote:
Have you heard any recordings from the first half of the century? It may be boys, but they make a very different sound to boys' choirs today - partly a matter of fashion in vocal training, but also because voices are breaking much earlier ...

Yes, I am aware of this- certainly an improvement in the boys' diet has contributed to voices breaking earlier. (Testament have an interesting recording with Boris Ord at King's, which you probably know.)
colin wrote:
... surely what matters is not lip service to performance practice, but the creation of a musically satisfying and well balanced whole?

No argument there. I was just questioning whether a recent performance of Dyson in D with women at Malvern Priory was "musically satisfying". IMHO, no.
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wickedchorister



Joined: 27 Jun 2006
Posts: 175
Location: Britain

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[/quote] Lighten up, wickedchorister. quote]

I'm sure its a lot easier to 'lighten up' on this subject when it never has, and never will in the future affect you personally!
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jwatkins
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Joined: 14 Apr 2002
Posts: 90
Location: Coulsdon, Surrey

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think part of the difficulty is for a cathedral to accommodate three separate top lines. Several (Salisbury, Norwich, etc) manage with two, so they can have boys, boys & men, girls and girls & men. As far as I know the cathedral girls are trebles, not sopranos and most leave leave at 12/13(?).

Alternatively there are a lot of city church choirs that have ladies and men - most of the "professional" London ones do - thinking of St Mary's, Bourne Street, St Margaret's, Westminster (next to the Abbey), etc.

John.
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Jason Evans



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jwatkins wrote:
I think part of the difficulty is for a cathedral to accommodate three separate top lines. Several (Salisbury, Norwich, etc) manage with two, so they can have boys, boys & men, girls and girls & men. As far as I know the cathedral girls are trebles, not sopranos and most leave leave at 12/13(?).

Having attended CE at many UK cathedrals, I have only heard sopranos at one of them: Llandaff.
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wickedchorister



Joined: 27 Jun 2006
Posts: 175
Location: Britain

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, how wrong you are Jason Evans.
I actually sing in Llandaff cathedral, and no they dont have women sops in the cathedral choir.

I sing alto in the girl's cathedral choir, cos they dont let females sing the top line after school leaving age.

I can only presume you heard a visiting choir
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Jason Evans



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wickedchorister wrote:
Well, how wrong you are Jason Evans.
I actually sing in Llandaff cathedral, and no they dont have women sops in the cathedral choir.

Mea culpa, then. I was only at Llandaff once- I arrived as the organist was practising the Kelly Jamaican Canticles (difficult organ part) and even went up the loft to try the organ out. There was no indication that this was a visiting choir so I probably mistook some of the women for sopranos. Were you singing that evening in May?

My apologies, though this has clearly given you great satisfaction. Glad I was able to make your day!
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