IT’S ALWAYS A PUSSYCAT
Lindsay Music: P/B 101pp. 978-0-85957-169-2 £7.95
Choral conductor Edward Caswell provides a rather quirky approach to singing techniques in his book. The subtitle, ‘A singer’s approach to choral conducting’, is perhaps more informative than the actual title!
He approaches conducting and voice training in the context of rehearsing specific repertoire – the Requiems of Fauré, Mozart, Verdi and Brahms together with Messiah, Elijah and other items by Parry, Gibbons and Britten. Whether you are a singer or choir director there is a much to digest here, all good common sense derived from the author’s wide experience. For some of the music discussed the score is printed in full (Gibbons’s O clap your hands alone takes up 22 pages of the book).
Choir trainers need to be amateur vocal coaches in order to get the best from the voices at their disposal and some find this challenge is too daunting to even try. Both beginners and more experienced conductors will find Caswell’s approach straightforward and not at all daunting. While not an ‘in depth’ textbook of choral singing and conducting, amateur choir trainers and singers will discover, as I did, a host of useful tips in this delightful book. Very highly recommended.
EXPLORING CHRISTIAN SONG
ed. Jennifer Bloxham and Andrew Shenton
Lexington Books: H/B 238pp. 978-1-4985-4990-5 £70.00
This collection of academic essays ‘celebrates the richness of Christian musical tradition across its two thousand year history and across the globe.’ Specific aspects of theology or composition in the works of Obrecht, Telemann, J.S. and C.P.E. Bach, Kodály and Arvo Pärt are discussed in the context of their time, together with essays on hymnody in America.
SECULAR MUSIC, SACRED SPACE: EVANGELICAL WORSHIP AND POPULAR MUSIC
Lexington Books: H/B 118pp. 978-1-4985-4217-3 £54.95
On Easter Sunday in 2009 the NewSpring Church in South Carolina began their service with ‘Highway to Hell’, a track by rock band AC/DC. This caused much controversy as to the ethics of their choice. April Stace’s book considers this specific case in discussion with the people involved and then widens her remit to a general consideration of what might be acceptable in evangelical (and other) worship.