7 Pages

Chapter Twelve: Sweet Singing in the Choir

During the 1914–18 war, those choral societies which remained active suffered a decline which continued into the post-war world. The festivals they supported withered, and so therefore did the market for the dramatic cantata. The surviving choirs were smaller and had not the same enthusiasm for exploring new music. The early years of the twentieth century saw the folk-song movement in full spate. Vaughan Williams's four-part arrangement of Just as the Tide Was Flowing exploited the virtuosity of his chosen singers, giving them sophisticated fun far removed from the rural turnip field. Such brilliance needs no defence, any more than does Holst, enhancing the tragedy inherent in the Cornish folk-song I Love my Love. The difficulties of mixed-voice choirs and choral societies had been exacerbated still further in the 1914–18 war when the newly founded Women's Institute movement and other women-only movements began to form a host of SA and SSA choirs.