St Matthew Passion was the first piece of music I ever truly dismantled as a conductor 15 years ago in an attempt to get under the skin of this incredible work of art. It is now three years since Armonico Consort’s last tour of Bach’s masterpiece, and whilst I have conducted the work countless times, I never fail to feel slightly daunted by the task of bringing it to life for the modern ear.
This week I led the warm up through the use of rounds, first a clapping exercise then a song. The clapping exercise involved splitting the choir into four and asking them to clap different rhythms. Whilst it would be expected that by the end of the exercise the students would have sped up, they kept a good tempo and, as always, approached the task with enthusiasm.
In the choir rehearsal today Gaynor let me lead the warm up before the session. First I decided to loosen the students up by a fun exercise called Up, Down, Stop, GO! which got them moving around the class. I followed this by some comical yet effective vocal exercises the students approached with full confidence and enthusiasm, although being amused by them.