Sunday, April 09, 2017

Vespers: Now The Day Is Over


The Robert Shaw Chorale sings "Now The Day Is Over."

The Robert Shaw Chorale was a professional choir founded in New York City in 1948 by Robert Shaw, a Californian who had been drafted out of college a decade earlier by Fred Waring to conduct his glee club in radio broadcasts.
The Chorale enjoyed an intermittent existence, being formed and re-formed on an ad hoc basis for national and international tours and several RCA Victor recordings, its personnel count ranging from around thirty to around sixty voices depending on repertoire requirements. The Chorale ceased operations permanently in 1965.

During its existence the Robert Shaw Chorale became arguably the best-known and most widely respected professional choral organization in the United States, with repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach to folk music and Broadway theatre tunes. The Robert Shaw Chorale was notable for its homogeneity of tone, finely wrought balances between vocal sections, elegance of phrasing, and rhythmic vitality. Many of its members were recruited from Juilliard and other NYC-area conservatories, sometimes to the consternation of those singers’ voice teachers.

Shaw was fond in later years of relating that when he was preparing to take the Chorale on a grueling U.S. tour of 36 one-night stands performing Bach’s lengthy Mass in B Minor, several teachers protested that he would ruin their students’ voices. At the end of the tour, when teachers remarked with astonishment that the voices had actually improved, Shaw replied to the effect that “Bach has been teaching singing.”
Sabine Baring-Gould (1834 - 1924) wrote the lyrics to "Now The Day Is Over," and Joseph Barnby (1838 - 1896) composed the melody. It was originally written for the children of Horbury Bridge, a village in England, when the author was serving as the Curate for the parish.

Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was an Anglican priest, hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar. His bibliography consists of more than 1240 publications, though this list continues to grow. His family home, the manor house of Lew Trenchard, near Okehampton, Devon, has been preserved as he had it rebuilt and is now a hotel. He is remembered particularly as a writer of hymns, the best-known being "Onward, Christian Soldiers."

Baring-Gould did eventually marry a woman outside of his aristocracy, a mill hand named Grace Taylor. The two gave birth to fifteen children.

One grandson, William Stuart Baring-Gould, was a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar who wrote a fictional biography of the great detective—in which, to make up for the lack of information about Holmes's early life, he based his account on the childhood of Sabine Baring-Gould. Sabine himself is a major character of Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes novel The Moor, a Sherlockian pastiche. In this novel it is revealed that Sabine Baring-Gould is the godfather of Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Joseph Barnby was an English composer and conductor. In 1871 was appointed conductor of the Royal Albert Hall Choral Society, a post he held till his death. In 1875 he was precentor and director of music at Eton College, and in 1892 became principal of the Guildhall School of Music, receiving the honour of knighthood in July of that year.

A possibly apocryphal story about him got as far as New Zealand: A young contralto at the end of a Handel solo put in a high note instead of the less effective note usually sung. The conductor, Barnby, was shocked, and asked whether Miss – thought she was right to improve on Handel. "Well, Sir Joseph, said she, I’ve got an 'E' and I don’t see why I shouldn’t show it off". "Miss –," rejoined Barnby, "I believe you have two knees, but I hope you won’t show them off here."

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