Sunday, 23 December 2012

What Makes a Good Dep?

The answer is quite simple: someone who can deliver the goods at short notice and who displays a professional attitude at all times. And the reverse? Someone who is unprepared or ill-equipped for the job in hand, is uncooperative and lets his colleagues down.

Last week, Norman Lebrecht's blog gave us a marvellous story about a pair of pianists, Andrei Gavrilov and Alexander Ghindin. It has all the ingredients of a parable, save perhaps for a moral in the tale, which is hinted at below. These two Russian Bears are at the top of their game — though perhaps one of them is on his way down, if those behind-the-scenes rumours are to be believed. But if Gavrilov were to apply for DepList membership today, we'd turn him down, unless he could provide an acceptable excuse (like a sudden incapacitating illness) for what he did. Sasha Ghindin was the dep who saved the show, to which people had come from far and wide on a day when the thermometer was at 18 degrees below zero. Ghindin's verdict on his more famous colleague's behaviour? That he'd better watch out, because

Бог накажет за такие вещи! (God punishes for this kind of thing!)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

DepList's Busiest Time

We're into the busiest fortnight of the year for DepList, and this year seems crazier than ever. Bookings are coming in at the rate of several per day, and if you're a tenor who is still free on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass, you've either been abroad or asleep.

I reckon we're busier at this season than during Holy Week. Paradoxically, Christmas, despite its name, is now a pagan, or non-religious, or multi-denominational festival just as much as it is a Christian one — a time of celebration for everyone with or without religious affiliations. Most people like to hear singers around a tinsel-adorned fir tree, cheering us up in the bleak midwinter. There are definitely more opportunities for singers than at Easter, what with company dinners, parties and pantos. When did you last hear of a corporate establishment throwing an Easter Party for its staff and hiring a bunch of singers to sing Easter carols?

We hope DepList can help you find that last-minute replacement for an ailing singer or organist at what is also the busiest time of year for viruses.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Platinum Consort — Storm of Light

Following on from the success of their much praised début album In the Dark, Platinum Consort are busy preparing for a Storm of Light, a concert that will include the world première of a work of that name by Richard Bates. Scored for choir, harp and 'cello, it consists of seven meditations on the light of the world. Also in the programme are Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli and Britten's Hymn to the Virgin. The Consort's director is Scott Inglis-Kidger, an Associate Member of DepList who regularly uses DepList to recruit singers.

The concert is at St Giles' Cripplegate on Friday 16th November at 7:30pm. In the meantime, listen to their gorgeous sound in the video below and visit their website to find out more about them.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

An Unusual Assignment

Fans of Call the Midwife — Jennifer Worth's best-seller turned into a highly successful television period drama series on BBC1 — may spot some of our female members in one of their more unusual assignments. Fully kitted out in nuns' habits, these "extra" singing nuns, all members of DepList, appear in the chapel scenes and can be heard on the soundtrack, singing the plainchant alongside Sisters Julienne, Evangelina, Monica Joan and Bernadette.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Australian Voices

An all expenses paid opportunity!

Tour 80 cities around the UK singing excellent choral music! The Australian Voices are touring a small ensemble around the United Kingdom from August to November 2012 and are looking for some awesome musicians to joins them.

They will visit all major cities in the UK including London. They will pay your return flights, accommodation, transport and a 360 GBP cash allowance per week (5040 GBP total)

Are you a singer? An instrumentalist? A music teacher?

This is a paid opportunity that allows you to join one of Australia’s most innovative ensembles and perform Australian music to a international audience. Singers preferred who are:

  • Aged 17 – 35 years old
  • With a clear, natural singing voice (without vibrato)
  • Able to sing with accurate intonation from memory

Successful applicants will also be considered for ongoing paid work in Australia and overseas in 2013.

For details on how to apply, please visit this page on their website.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Changing My Voice

One of DepList's former members, Christopher Gabbitas, presented Changing My Voice, on Radio 4 this morning. In this programme he interviews various classical singers who have changed their voice classifications up or down — Domingo, Bumbry, Plowright and others. Well worth a listen while it's available.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Chantage — Free concert and a Prom

Free concert at St Paul’s Knightsbridge

Join Chantage for a free evening of music with one of the top college choirs in the United States, with a beautiful programme that includes works by Lauridsen, Stanford, Nelhybel, Allain, Chydenius, Byrd, and American folk songs and spirituals. Founded in 1946, the Luther College Nordic Choir has an international reputation and has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the United States, including the Lincoln Center, New York, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, and the Crystal Cathedral, L.A.

Date: Wednesday 30 May
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, 32a Wilton Place London, SW1X 8SH (map)
Tickets: On the door, on the day

Chantage at the Proms! 

On 28 July 2012, Chantage makes history. At the world’s greatest classical music festival — the BBC Proms — they sing the première performance of Benedict Mason’s meld with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a performance that will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Mason describes his work as a reflection of ‘tension and ritual; with dramas in opposition’, the perfect companion to Rued Langgaard’s symphony of brevity and eternity Ixion.

Date: Saturday 28 July
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP (map)

Friday, 4 May 2012

Requiem for Dr John Birch

Dr John Birch died on Saturday 28 April, aged 82. He was Director of Music at All Saints, Margaret Street, from 1953 to 1958 and thereafter Organist of Chichester Cathedral and the Temple Church. He was also senior professor of organ at the Royal College of Music. Here is the Telegraph's obituary.

His Funeral Mass will be held at All Saints, Margaret Street, on Tuesday 15 May at 6.30pm. The music includes parts of the Duruflé Requiem and some organ fireworks from Stephen Disley at the end.

Share Your News

What's happening in your world? Is it of interest to DepList members and visitors to our site? Use the button at the foot of this page to tell us of anything that might be newsworthy. If I think it's interesting and relevant, I'll post it here and/or on Twitter.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

We Are Now a Dot-Com

It's hard luck on the person who sent me an email from Australia yesterday asking whether I'd be interested in buying the domain name, which was about to expire and be released to the public. "Of course," I said. "How much?" A few hours later, the response came, with a suggested price of US$450. "You must be joking," I replied. Or words to that effect.

Meanwhile I did some research on WHOIS and discovered the place where it might be possible to acquire the domain for $69, just as long as no other bidders entered the game. So I contacted the Australian to say I was going to do my own bidding, thank you very much, and that my maximum bid would be very low. I craftily added that I certainly wouldn't be interested in any subsequent "offers" from anyone who outbid me, because I didn't particularly need the dot-com name. It would be nice to have if I could get it cheaply, I said, but it was not essential for my site's success. I had in fact contacted the previous owner of some years ago, but he was not prepared to sell it. My tactical response at the time was to buy the and names, thereby adding value to my domain and reducing the value of his by a tiny fraction!

Switching back to yesterday's adventure, I hoped that my feigned disinterest would thus deter my speculator from bidding against me, and off I went to try my luck with SnapNames, the site that WHOIS told me to visit if I wanted to place a bid. I put in my maximum offer and waited.

In theory, I might have been able to get it more cheaply later on (if no one registers an interest in a name, SnapNames doesn't bother to acquire it), but I didn't want to run the risk of a "domain acquisition specialist" (i.e. shark) buying it in the interim and then trying to sell it to me for some outrageous sum. Whether or not it would be bought depended on whether it was worth anything, so I checked with some valuation sites. Two of these estimated the name to be worth $3,000 (as opposed to $600 for and $0 for several other .com names I put into the calculator for comparison). I was careful to choose valuation sites which estimated the value of domain names per se rather than the value of websites, so that figure of $3,000 suggested to me that I should snap it up while I could. The .com names are generally worth more than names. Even .co without the "m" at the end is a less valuable suffix.

As auction-opening time approached, I went back to SnapNames to see what was happening. Fortunately, no-one had come to bid against me — least of all the Australian who'd been hoping to take $450 from me — and I secured the dot-com for the minimum opening bid of $69. I shall remain eternally grateful to my Antipodean tipster shark for letting me know that the domain was about to become available.

Many dot-com names that come up for sale do not remain on offer for more than a second. They are grabbed instantly by outfits like the one that was offering to sell for $69 before it had even come onto the market. The more valuable the name, the more likely it is to be snapped up the instant it is released. Sites like SnapNames fire off automated requests to buy them at the rate of several times per second, starting from just before they are released on the market, so there's no way individuals like us can compete against them. Such sites compete with each other too for good domain names, but sometimes they have special arrangements with the registrars that are about to put expired names on sale — a bit like a house vendor having an exclusive contract with a single agent to sell the property. Which is how came to be listed on WHOIS as being for sale via SnapNames.

It's taken eight years to acquire our .com, and it now complements the .net and .org in our stable — all the names that matter. Here's an extended article on the subject of acquiring domain names by someone who had a similar experience to mine and who also used SnapNames to acquire his domain name.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Stats, Easter 2012

From 1st March until Easter Sunday this year (i.e. Lent and Holy Week), 68 job adverts passed through DepList. Some of these adverts contained job offers for more than one musician and/or more than one gig, so the total number of people booked via DepList may have been higher. There were very few if any re-postings of unfilled jobs, so it seems DepList has reached a point of healthy self-sustainability. In other words, we have enough members to provide the necessary cover at peak periods, when recruitment is normally difficult.

Membership has increased very slowly over the years. This is partly because almost as many members drop off after a few years as apply to join. Classical singing is a highly competitive and often insecure profession. Opportunities for organists and choral directors are fewer still. Most members work freelance. Many stick at it for a few years, then switch to more lucrative occupations or salaried jobs, at which point they let their membership lapse. A very few are lucky enough to make it big time. When they have agents working on their behalf they longer need the type of service that DepList provides. I'm tempted to create a DepList celebs page at some point! A very few stalwart and loyal members have been with us since the very beginning. Others leave and rejoin.

There was a big drop-off in membership when we first started charging fees. Half our members decided they didn't want to pay to belong. Little by little the numbers have crept back up and we are now almost back to our peak of 300. This is probably an ideal size for DepList in its current format. Will DepList change? I don't know. It depends on what the market demands and how the technology continues to evolve.

The £10 fee (unchanged since it was first imposed) covers my overheads but not much of my time. My reward is to see something good in operation that I wish had existed when I started singing professionally three decades ago.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Making Good on Good Friday

It is at times like this when DepList really comes into its own. Imagine a situation where, for whatever reason, you are short of a tenor on a Good Friday. It's twenty minutes past eleven and the service is at 2 p.m. with a rehearsal at 1 p.m. In the old days pre-Internet and pre-mobiles (in my day actually!), this was a pretty hopeless situation. You might make ten or twenty (landline) phone calls to all the tenors in your address book. Some calls would ring and ring and not be answered at all. Others would turn out to be wrong numbers or else answered by a landlady who said the tenor had moved out — and no, she did not have his new number. The rest would be answered by recorded messages from tenors who were probably at that very moment travelling to jobs they'd been booked for ages ago. Spare tenors are hard to find at the best of times. For Holy Week, they need securing several weeks in advance. So half an hour later, you still haven't got your tenor, your stress levels rise, and it's getting too late to salvage the situation.

Today, someone placed an advertisement at 11.20 a.m. for a tenor to sing at 2 p.m. with a rehearsal at 1 p.m. It took less than ten minutes to fill that job.

It is interesting to think that when DepList began, mobile phones were still comparatively rare. There were plenty of musicians who didn't own one. Smartphones had not been invented, and receiving emails on mobiles was either impossible or impossibly fiddly. For many years, most of us could only access our DepList messages from a conventional desktop PC. Now DepList messages can be retrieved by anyone on the move. It seems that DepList has become even more useful as technology has evolved.

We wish all our members and visitors a Happy Easter.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Change of Address for Forms

The web addresses of many of the forms on our website have changed. If you are using forms that you have bookmarked, please look to see whether the address begins with If it does, please add the letters eu before the dot-com, so that the first part of the address looks like this:

Don't forget to bookmark the amended address.