Welcome to the first workshop of our Verdi season.
Seating the choir is going to be a bit of a challenge – and not just because of the numbers involved (all being well we will have about 220-230 singers on 27 Feb). As you know, not only are there parts of the work that are divisi, with parts singing in their separate voices, which we therefore need to keep together, the Sanctus is written for two choruses and we need to group those singers together too.
We also have to bear in mind the RFH concert seating arrangement (essentially five very long rows arranged in a U-shape above and behind the orchestra) which, as far as possible, we would like to emulate in these rehearsals so that Graham can get a feel for balance and also an idea of the geography of the choir so that he knows where each part is for entries and cut-offs, etc.
For St Johns, we have opted for an arrangement in which the voice parts are blocked front to back as shown in this 27 Feb Seating Plan.
At St Johns, we will be limited to a maximum of 30 singers in a row – split 16/14 about the main aisle. Sopranos and Tenors will be to the left and Basses and Altos to the right.
To accommodate the split between first and second choruses in the Sanctus, the three choirs will, broadly speaking, be organised in lines across the church with Leconfield (chorus 1) at the front, BCS (chorus 1 and 2) in the middle and CCS (chorus 2) at the rear.
Within this arrangement, the voice parts are blocked from front to back.
You will see there are two copies of the plan that are colour-coded differently. The upper one is coloured to show how the voice parts (1 and 2) divide for all of the ‘normal’ movements, with the lower one showing how, in this same arrangement, the voices combine to form the two choruses (the seating arrangement is the same in both!!!).
I do not plan to label each seat but I have shown on the plan where people will be either using chairs set out in the aisles or pews, and I hope you can navigate yourself to your assigned area using these reference points.
I realise that some people may feel nervous about being in the front or disappointed about being ‘at the back’. Don’t worry. Please remember that at the RFH we will be seated in a huge “U” shape and those singers who are in the ‘back left’ and ‘back right’ corners on this plan will actually be the closest to the audience at the RFH as these two ‘wings’ will fold round to the front to form the arms of the “U”.
Finally, I do not have precise numbers of singers for next Saturday. I have based the space assigned to each voice on the numbers that each choir has less the absences that are expected. As a result, we may have to do a little shuffling on the day so please come both prepared and in good time to do that.
Seating is going to be tight so please only take your music, pencil and water to your seat and leave your other personal items in another area of the church or in the church hall (which is an extension to the church and will be locked when we are not in there). Although we will be ‘cosy’ singing, I don’t know how warm the church will be so you may want an extra layer with you at your seat.
Remember that we are starting singing at 10:30 and need the choir seated and settled by that time, so please plan to arrive in good time. Thank you. To encourage you to come early we will have tea, coffee and cake available for sale from no later than 9:30 (with the income used to offset the cost of the day) so come and have your ‘second cup’ with us.
I will be at each choir’s rehearsal in the coming week to give each of you a chance to raise any questions that you may have about any aspect of this workshop and look forward to seeing you then.