Outlook Issue 22 Winter 2016
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Making music with Andrew
Singing in church can be an uplifting experience. It sets the heart pumping, the blood flowing and the spirits rising. This applies whether you’re part of the congregation or singing in the choir. ‘There’s nothing that beats the thrill of performing a major piece,’ says Organist and Choir Assistant Andrew Clarke (pictured), one of three organists at St Mary’s; he also helps long-standing choirmaster Bob Pegnall. ‘It’s partly biological, but there’s also this community thing which is about being with people and singing your heart out.’ Like his musical colleagues at St Mary’s, Andrew is keen to encourage participation at all levels, from beginners to the more experienced singers. Andrew and Bob recently organised a Choral Open Day in church, a chance, he says, for anyone to come along and have a go at singing, and performing. ‘In rehearsing and performing Vivaldi’s Gloria we thought it would be a good idea to show people how a church choir works. The ulterior motive was that it would be very nice to widen our pool of singers. We are always looking for new recruits.’ Vibrant set-up Now in his third year of playing at St Mary’s, Andrew is part of a vibrant musical set-up. While he, Bob Pegnall and Andrew Garfath-Cox share organ duties, he has also become more involved with the choir. Outside church, Andrew is an examiner for the Associated Board, a job he took on after retiring from 32 years in teaching, 23 of them at the Abbey School in Woodbridge. Andrew the examiner has undertaken extended visits to each of the Board’s three big international centres – in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia – listening to numerous young musicians for an exam which represents the UK’s four major music academies: the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern and the Royal Scottish Colleges. ‘Having the royal insignia carries a lot of clout internationally,’ he says. Examining tours to China and the US are on the cards for 2017 and, inevitably, more music and singing in church. ‘St Mary’s is such a brilliant place to perform and to hear music,’ he adds. Hear, hear to that! Nick Cottam