Walking, listening

At last: a sunny, crisp day, after weeks of dismal rain. The sun was glinting on the water and the sky was blue. I walked round Worsbrough Res this morning, listening to today’s Building a Library, on Radio 3, which – by coincidence – was about Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World’. I listened to it again. I would have listened a third time but my phone ran out of battery.

Worsbrough Reservoir
Worsbrough Reservoir
Sky above the crack willow

I recommend it for anyone coming to this work for the first time, or anyone who wants a fresh perspective on an old favourite. Bernstein’s version – slow, for once. Marin Alsop with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra – lush but incisive. The favourite recording: Sir Charles Mackerras with the Prague Symphony Orchestra – maintaining a lightness of touch but with punch where required.

Lest we forget.

We had our first choir rehearsal last night for the Lauridsen Lux Aeterna. I’m listening to that as I write. We need to get used to words that are less familiar than those we know well from the Requiem mass, and we have our work cut out with the typical Lauridsen clusters and the high alto parts. But this is going to be glorious to perform.

There are dark places in the world. Worsbrough Res this morning was a place of light and peace, and I am thankful.

Our preparations for the concert are, as ever, a celebration of friendship, joy, and love. Join us.

Concert for anniversary of Ukraine invasion

Saturday 24th February 2024 marks two years since the invasion of Ukraine.

We are planning a concert at St. Alban’s Church, Hull, to commemorate this occasion, and to keep the Ukrainian people in our thoughts.

Our concert will present Antonin Dvořák’s ever-popular Ninth Symphony, ‘From the New World’, which expresses so well a sense of nostalgia and longing for home. We performed this symphony back in the autumn of 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world as we knew it.

Also in the concert, and new to Invitatione, is Morten Lauridsen’s choral work Lux Aeterna, whose words speak of finding light in darkness. We have always enjoyed performing Lauridsen’s beautiful setting of O magnum mysterium at Christmas, and we are very much looking forward to getting to know this larger-scale work for choir and chamber orchestra.

We are welcoming more singers of all voices to our choir, and players, especially string players, to the orchestra. If you are a brass or woodwind player, please do also get in touch, as we have vacancies in certain areas. You can sign up to our mailing list here.

All proceeds from the concert will go to supporting Ukraine-related causes. Please get in touch if you would like to nominate a charity.

Informal concert, October 8th 2022, St. Alban’s Church, Hull

On the evening of Friday 7th October and the afternoon of Saturday 8th October, we got together, in St. Alban’s Church, Hull, for the first time since our series of open rehearsals in the spring. We were able to work briefly on that same repertoire, linked by themes relating to war, peace, nationhood, nature and remembrance, with a view to giving an informal performance on the Saturday evening, to family and friends. This was not a polished performance, on just a few hours’ rehearsal, but it was a joy to be music-making together.

All the local composers whose works we were performing were in the room, and were able to talk to the audience about their compositions. It was a privilege to be able to work with them and offer their music to the public.

A series of recordings of Paul Chamberlain’s Songs from the Requiem is available below.

Open rehearsals in aid of Ukraine relief charities

Thanks to everyone who came along to our three open rehearsals in May, to play, sing, or watch and listen.

Our visitors were treated to the first public performances of new works by Ian Reid, Alan Edgar, Amy Parkin and Paul Chamberlain.

This has been a lovely series of rehearsals for us, discovering completely new music.

We hope to continue rehearsing this repertoire for a more formal performance in the autumn.

Easter greetings

This weekend, appropriately for Easter, Handel’s Messiah was the subject of Radio 3’s Building a Library. It is 280 years since the first performance of this mighty work, and four years since our memorable semi-staged performances in the Church of All Saints, Driffield, and Hull Minster.

Listening to the recordings, old and new, of the versions of Messiah preserved in wax and modern digital equivalents by famous conductors and ensembles, and discussed on Radio 3, I could not help but think of our own versions, every bit as powerful and engaging as anything that could be heard on the radio or, as they say, wherever you listen to your music these days.

Take another look and another listen to this music, and what we made of it, in a series of videos, and the programme, from the Hull Minster performance in April 2018.

Our next venture, which we have just begun, is not centred on world-famous music, nor on world-famous composers. Instead, we are getting to know music written by some of our own members.

All music starts somewhere. Who knows what people will be singing and playing in 280 years? Invitatione’s mission has always been to enjoy singing and playing together, and to grow and learn about ourselves and others through our experiences of rehearsing and performing.

Join us.

Recordings from 20th November

On Saturday 20th November, in St. Alban’s Church, Hull, we met to sing and play a programme of music in concert format (two halves!) for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic forced musical activity to cease for many months. The only musical activity Invitatione had organised since our wonderful last formal concert in October 2019 was the Come and Sing, Come and Play event in Driffield in July.

We rehearsed just a few times in advance, intending that this event should not necessarily be the polished performance we would normally aim for, but simply a focus for us to get together and sing and play, and get back into the swing of things. Many of us had not done much singing or playing during the past 18 months. Many of our members were not ready to come back to the group because of worries about mixing with others, which particularly affected the number of players in the orchestra.

Though this was an informal event, without advance publicity and with just family and friends there, we had a warm, receptive audience on the night, who seemed to be as pleased to be listening to an evening of music as we were to be giving it.

Chris Bates recorded parts of the concert with his trusty camcorder, and some of the items are available to watch below.

Christmas greetings – and a Lauridsen treat

It is very sad indeed that we have not – yet again – been able to get together and sing this Christmas. It is especially disappointing because we had hoped that our informal concert on 20th November would be the start of a renewal of our music making after the long gap due to the pandemic.

By way of some small consolation, and as a reminder of better days, here is a performance, from the Invitatione archives, of the beautiful O magnum mysterium by Morten Lauridsen. It is hard to believe that it is five years since, in 2016, we embarked on three concerts in three venues in Hull and the East Riding, to celebrate Advent and Christmas. Thanks to Stuart Grant, we have recordings of all of those concerts.

This particular performance was part of the lunchtime concert we gave at the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Peter Chanel, Hull, on 26th November 2016, the weekend of Advent.

Listening back to this excellent performance underlines how important it is for us to keep singing together, and to keep sharing our performances with a wider audience.

Let’s hope 2022 brings renewed opportunities for us to be together to sing and play. In the meantime, enjoy.

Event on 20th November

On the evening of 20th November, we are putting on a fairly informal performance at St. Alban’s Church, Hall Road, Hull, as a means of taking a step back into the world of concerts and concert preparation. This is not a ticketed event and is only open to friends and family of those performing.

Running order

First half

Remember not – Purcell

Lord, how long – Purcell

Schubert – Symphony no. 5

Second half

Send in the Clowns

Ave verum corpus – Byrd

O sacrum convivium – Tallis

Tahiti Trot

As Torrents

The Shower

The Blue Bird

Moon River

The Pink Panther

Ten years of Invitatione

June 4th 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of Invitatione’s first concert!

Singers and players at St. Vincent’s Church, Hull, on Saturday 4th June 2011

Our very first concert was performed at 1.00 on the Saturday afternoon of 4th June 2011. I was teaching at Hull Collegiate School at the time. The idea for the concert arose because some of the pupils and I wanted to create an opportunity to perform one of our A-level set works – Bach’s Cantata No. 48, ‘Ich elender Mensch’. We built the programme around this, selecting other music by Bach and Handel to go alongside the Cantata. The concert programme is shown here on the right.

The soloists for the concert were mostly pupils who were then attending Hull Collegiate School – Robin Datta, Rachel Barnes, Charlotte Wills, and Anita Datta who played Handel’s organ concerto Op. 4 No. 1.

Most of the singers and players were pupils from Hull Collegiate School, students or ex-students of Hull University, and local music teachers.

The concert was such a success that we decided to organise a follow-up concert in the Autumn of that same year, moving from German Baroque to Italian Baroque, and the Invitatione project was underway.