Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Christmas music - wot already?

My children’s father – Roger Wilcock, my first husband – is an extraordinarily gifted musician.  He can take a bunch of any old ordinary people and make a choir out of them.  He is a really good conductor, a choirmaster of excellence, and he has a most beautiful voice.

If he sits down with a couple planning a wedding, as they wonder aloud about the organ music for entry and exit, he can play almost anything they suggest with no sheet music in front of him, because he just knows it.  He can transpose effortlessly, an important skill for the beginners’ section of brass bands and church music groups.

He plays all kinds of instruments – any brass you care to name, piano and organ, violin, sitar, gamelan, electric and acoustic guitar . . . all sorts.   When he was at York University studying for his music degree, his main instruments were organ and voice.

Here he is with his sweet and dainty wife, Carol.

And here he is looking grand as president of NAMM.

And there's a picture from the Hastings Observer of him with his choir - the Hastings Big Choir - in the Observer article all about it here.

The reason I am telling you about him today is in case you like to have carols playing in the background at Christmas time.  We do.

Every year in our house we get out our CDs of his recordings of Christmas carols, and they make the festive season perfect for us.  He is the kind of musician who knows better than to try to gild the lily.  He allows the music to speak – draws it forth – lets it be what it wants to be, what it really is; and so his playing has a very satisfying, timeless quality.  When he made his recordings of Christmas music, there were two CDs – one piano and woodwind, the other piano and cello, and we have them both.  I can’t find the piano and woodwind one online – I think it might have got absorbed into this boxed set somehow – but the piano and cello tunes are available for download (see the links below).  The cello was played by his good friend Ian Gill.

Christmas, for us, is not really complete without Roger playing the carols in the background – it’s become integral.

He’s a composer too.  Though he hasn’t got round to publishing all his compositions, there are two you can get online.  One was written for someone making a Tai Chi demonstration video, to go with the movements – almost dances – of the Tai Chi exercises.  It’s called Vitality.  The other is a set of beautiful meditational pieces.  It was commissioned for a book of Celtic meditations as an accompanying CD of original music, an evocative and inspiring piece to go with each meditation.  At the time (I was still married to Roger then) I took the phone call from the publisher, who said he wanted this music but it would have to be written in a week, ready for the next publishing meeting, and could Roger do that? “Yes,” I replied without hesitation, because at the time he was just starting out as a freelance musician, and all such opportunities were seemed valuable.  He did it.  He worked FLAT OUT for a week, and managed to compose an entire CD of original – beautiful, inspiring, thoughtful – music to go with the meditation CD, in time for the deadline. Then after the publishing meeting they came back to him saying they’d changed their minds and thought they wouldn’t use his compositions after all.  They did publish it in the end, as a stand-alone set, but it was written to go with the Celtic meditations, and I think it’s a pity they got separated like that.

Anyway, I thought you might like to sample his music.  He’s here on this boxed set from Classic Fox – I don’t know the whole set, but it has his piano and cello and his piano and woodwind in, I think. 

Here's an album he's done with Classic Fox, called Advent Promise - a set of traditional Advent pieces - and this one called Approaching Christmas.  These two Advent ones have some overlap, but some different ones too (I think).

He’s here with the piano and cello Christmas carols, which are just lovely - these are the ones we play at home.  Listen to the previews - oh, it's so fab!  Take, for example, Ding Dong Merrily On High - listen to how he knows just how long to linger on each note and when to move on, so it's sprightly but not hurried; lyrical.

He has an album called Classical Christmas too - though I have no idea who the Eden Symphony Orchestra might be!  

His Tai Chi pieces are available here.

His Celtic Spirit album is on i-Tunes here.

But mainly I wanted to tell you about the Christmas music, in case you wanted to get hold of it for the peacefulness and holiness of your Advent season – okay, I know we aren’t there yet, but it’s coming!


365 366 Day 304 – Tuesday Oct 30th  

Two DVDs explaining all about the health benefits of jumping on a trampette. What more can I tell you?

365 366 Day 303 – Monday Oct 29th 

This . . . er this . . . well I think it was a plastic cradle to house some element of the gadgetry connected with our Wii Fit.  We still have the Wii, and engage in bursts of virtuous exercise that do us the world of good.  But this plastic cradle turned out to be surplus to requirements.

365 366 Day 302 – Sunday Oct 28th   

Crew-necked T-shirts.  I look awful in crew-necked T-shirts.  A lot of women do, especially if they have got a bit plump and reached the age when the bust is sliding south.  The neckline needs to kinda slide with it a little way.

365 366 Day 301 – Saturday Oct 27th   

Hmm. Two Raymond Chandlers, I think, and A Writer’s Notes On His Trade, and maybe that one with the front cover gone missing is The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  Evidently old favourites in a state of disintegration.

365 366 Day 300 – Friday Oct 26th   

A hairdryer.  To avoid complication, I try to stick with the kind of hairstyles that will just dry themselves without attention.  Every now and then if I’m going somewhere that matters in a hurry I do need the assistance of a hairdryer, but our Alice kindly lends me hers.


Anonymous said...

I agree about the hair dryer...after I cut my hair short...almost like yours ;D)...I realized I didn't need one anymore.

Thank you for sharing the music...just lovely! m.

Hawthorne said...

Wow! Synchronicity - or, as I prefer to call it, God's timing! I've been looking for meditation music and I love the previews I heard of the Celtic Spirit album. Like the sound of the Advent ones too. Are they available on cd? Amazon only has mp3 versions. x x

Ember said...

Hi Maria :0) Yes, having shorter hair makes life a lot easier in some ways! Drier, anyway!

Hi Hawthorne - As far as I can make out, the only way to get them is on download - but of course once you have them in your computer you should be able to upload them onto a CD if you want them in that format. I think! x

kat said...

Oh lovely links - I can still remember R drawing impossible, beautiful music from the clapped out piano in the church hall - impossible for anyone but him I mean :-)

Asta Lander said...

Ember that music is divine!!! Literally divine. Thank you. And I love my short hair too. I don't even own a comb now. Asta x

Ember said...

:0) Waving!

amit said...

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Ember said...

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