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I’m on a train! Not the one that I wanted; that one was cancelled. But a train, nevertheless, and one which is going (slowly) in approximately the right direction. “Change at Reading”, they say. I was in Oxford for the afternoon – just, after my outbound train was also cancelled – to sing with the Thame Chamber Choir. They broke the metaphorical glass behind which the emergency alto was kept, and possibly the effect of singing in Spem a fortnight ago was to raise my singer’s social media profile; hmm, Spem in alium as the equivalent of LinkedIn...

I was made welcome by the choir, and as a bonus I learnt some new music: Crux fidelis by Jean Roger-Ducasse; A prayer of King Henry VI by Gabriel Jackson; and Salve Regina H.24 by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The Charpentier is interesting. It's for two equal choirs and a smaller group, and the section in the text about “moaning and weeping in this valley of tears” (gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle) is set for the solo group to an astonishing sequence of diminished and augmented chords: word painting, for sure, but more extreme than I have grown used to expect in this repertoire. It put me in mind of the second trio des Parques from Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, but as well as being an odd sequence, each chord is individually strange. Really worth a listen.

And now I have to work out how to get back home on this antiquated transport system of ours. Assuming this goes better than the last substantially delayed journey, it will have been worth it.

[ update: just. ]