The historic church of St Magnus, Birsay (Orkney), provided a fitting venue for Gregorian chant on Monday 14 December. The ancient evening service of Compline was sung by students on a beginners’ Gregorian Chant course. The course, led by Harray resident Ben Whitworth, ran at Appies Tea Rooms, Sandwick, during November and December. It followed a successful beginners’ course, also at Appies, last winter.
Ben said: ‘The students on the course were really enthusiastic and the quality of the singing at Birsay Kirk indicates just how much work they put in. Gregorian Chant is rightly famous for its serenity, but it requires a lot from the singers: accuracy, stamina, good pronunciation of Latin – and all this unaccompanied. I’m proud of how much this class has achieved.’
After the first beginners’ course, a number of students wished to continue meeting to learn new music. The group – known as the Orkney Schola – now rehearses regularly, and has sung at the Catholic parish church of Our Lady and St Joseph in Kirkwall. An intermediate course will run at Appies in the New Year, beginning on Thursday 21 January 2010. To book, please call Pam Farmer on 841562. The course will suit anyone who has completed one of the beginners’ courses at Appies, or who has some experience of choral singing.
For additional information, contact: Ben Whitworth, Cribbaquoy, Harray, Orkney KW17 2LQ, tel. (01856) 771677, email: ben at whitworth.net, blog: orkneychant.blogspot.com
(image: Singers at the Gregorian Chant service of Compline in St Magnus’ church, Birsay; Angie Whitworth)