On Sunday 3rd September 2107 Jonathan played for us as our new organist and choir master. We are extremely fortunate to have found another organist and master musician so quickly especially when such expertise is becoming increasingly rare.
A professional musician with a background in cathedral music, Jonathan is experienced as a performer on a wide variety of instruments and works in both classical and jazz disciplines. He has directed professional and amateur choirs, both children and adults, and has worked widely as both a composer and arranger. He is currently the Musical Director of North Norfolk Chorale. He has an extensive individual teaching practice, and brings both his classical and academic training, as well as 35 years’ performing expertise, to his work with other musicians, both in groups and as individuals.
We sing for the praise of God so we do our best whether the congregation is large or small. Every Sunday we help lead the singing of the hymns and enhance the worship by singing an introit (usually a short musical composition) before the service and an anthem during the giving of communion.
We sing a great variety of music ranging from early plainsong to contemporary.
We practice on Wednesdays from 5.00pm to 6.00pm and from 9.00 to 10.00am before the Sunday morning service.
Usually on the third Sunday in the month we sing a choral evensong at 6.30pm preceded by a short rehearsal at 5.30pm. This sometimes changes, so check the church website.
We also sing for special services during the church year, such as Carols by Candlelight, the Advent service ‘From Darkness to Light’, Compline each evening during Holy Week, a Good Friday afternoon service ‘Cross of Christ’ and for weddings when requested.
We are affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music both nationally www.rscm.com and regionally www.rscm-norfolk.org and sing annually with other affiliated choirs in Norwich Cathedral for the Diocesan Choral Festival www.norwich.anglican.org . We also sing with other choirs in the diocese, such as the King’s Lynn Minster.
We have a well-balanced four part choir and have an average attendance of fifteen. We value everyone’s contribution. We also welcome visiting choristers to join us for worship, but please do let us know in advance!
We are always looking for new members. If you would like to sing with us please contact the Rectory Office on 01328 862268.
“The Gift of Music: a Solemn Calling”
Peterborough Choral Diocesan Festival
Saturday 15th October 2016.
It was an excited group of people that emerged from their cars, and stepped their way round the puddles in the Highfield Road carpark, Fakenham, one pleasant Saturday morning in October. As the group grew, lively conversation and snatches of laughter drifted about in the still autumn air. We were gathering for an event of great significance and solemnity, which we always enjoy immensely: the Peterborough Choral Diocesan Festival. Anticipation of a joyful day’s singing in the cathedral ran through us as we awaited the arrival of our transport. We only had to wait a few minutes before the ‘Fun Bus’, driven by Chris Brown, our own organist and choirmaster, drew up….and we were off, choir robes and packed- lunches stowed away on spare seats and at our feet. There were about 15 of us – friends from the wider church community as well as church choir members.
The rolling Norfolk countryside, resplendent in its warm autumn colours, and the welcome sunshine added to our buoyant mood. Whenever we are lucky enough to have a choir outing in our ‘fun bus’, our spirits are always high and we use the travelling time in getting to know each other better. It is a bonding period for us as well as an opportunity to visit another glorious place of worship.
Arriving in the city just after midday, and seeing the cathedral’s square tower and West Door looming up grandly in front of us, gave us a huge surge of excitement. With its melding of all sorts of architectural styles (Gothic, Norman and Romanesque, among others), and fine, intricate carving, the cathedral is a splendid place. Surrounded by such magnificence, who could remain unmoved?
However, there was no ‘time to stand and stare’ as we were almost straight in to the afternoon rehearsal. Steven Grahl, Director of Music at the cathedral, once again put us through our paces. With his meticulous attention to detail and his encouragement of the huge number of choir members from parish churches around the East of England, he prepared us for the Evensong service. The rehearsal of the anthems, by composers as diverse as Handel, Dyson and Brahms, the psalm and the liturgical responses was led by Steven in his characteristically pleasant way, never compromising his musical integrity for the sake of us ‘amateurs’.
Here, we must mention our own choir master, Chris Brown: he prepared us so thoroughly over the previous few months that we really felt confident in our singing. A huge, heart-felt THANK YOU to you, Chris!
Tea was the next good thing on the agenda, and we were grateful, as last year, for the care of the cathedral staff in providing us with much needed sustenance, which supplemented our own sandwiches, crisps and Battenberg cake.
And then we were robed and ready; lining up in the side-aisles; and processing past the congregation to our seats, for the service. Exuberance and solemnity found a happy medium as we sang; as we applauded the recipients of RSCM awards; and listened, enrapt, to the Bishop’s Address. This was the highlight of the evening for many of us, as The Right Reverend John Flack, Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Church of England, spoke in a humorous and most illuminating way on the power of music and its efficacy in pleasing God. ‘Those who sing their praises to God’, he said, ‘are, in effect, praying twice. The Gift of Music is a solemn calling’. Food for thought as we made our way through the dark and rain to Fakenham’s muddy carpark.
The organ was installed by Hele & Company of Plymouth some 80 years ago. Further technical information about the church organ can be found here.