CHAIR’S REPORT TO AGM 2nd NOV 2020
You don’t need to be told this has been an extraordinary year. What appears to be a life time ago in another universe we gave a well received performance of Rossini’s Petite Solennelle at St. Nicholas Church Warwick in November 2019. This was under the musical direction of Rebecca Mills who had volunteered to fill the gap between Benedict Wilson leaving and David Wynne arriving. She did an excellent job.
Our new musical director David arrived in time to take us through our annual performance of the Messiah at St Nicholas Church in Kenilworth.
After Christmas we launched into the delights of Haydn’s Seasons galloping around the school hall in pursuit of the stag! We were all getting well into our stride, beginning to get to know our new ‘Master of Hounds’ when we all faced a new unexpected challenge. I think we were aware of looming problems and I can remember the phone calls prior to cancelling rehearsals and the spring concert. Had we over reacted?
At the time we thought the summer concert was in jeopardy but we could start planning for the autumn. Unfortunately even this was optimistic. The sad news is there will be no further concerts this year. We will of course keep matters under constant review. The realist in me says there is very little chance of a spring and possibly summer concert next year. But the optimist won’t have any of that nonsense. Rest assured as soon as it is safe to do so we will be back rehearsing.
In the meantime David has used his technical wizardry and provided online rehearsals, with Colin’s help as accompanist. This is never going to allow us to achieve a concert standard, but does enable us to ‘get together ’and sing. I know that it is not the real thing but hope those who have not sampled it will give it a go. Before Christmas we will ‘do’ some of the Messiah choruses and carols. I trust that will tempt the doubters!
None of the above would have happened without the hard work of the committee of which I am a mere figurehead. On behalf of the choir I would like to thank Nick Gilbert, Jane Brock, Caroline Robertson, Stephanie Lane, Adrian Hopkinson, Rosemary Lawrence, Sheila Verrier, Joan Stevens and Jill Wiglesworth who for their sins have agreed to continue as committee members.
In the short time we were ‘live’ with David I think he has laid the foundations for a successful partnership. It is also an annual joy to thank Colin for his professionalism, patience and good humour. I am sure you will all support the committee’s decision to continue to employ David and Colin as normal, which we will review in March 2021.
In these unusual times existing membership is rolled forward to April 1st 2021 when we will review the position. In the meantime there are still costs associated with our on line rehearsals. Please feel free to make a donation.
Usually at the end of the chairman’s report there is a list of our forthcoming concerts. For obvious reasons this year is an exception. No matter how far off our next concert may be I ask that you remember the exhilaration that comes from a live performance. So even if you do not join in the online rehearsals you will hold that emotion and launch with gusto into our first rehearsal whenever it occurs.
Chairman’s Newsletter 15.8.19
Dear Choir Members
Summer greetings to you all and trust you are all enjoying our typical summer weather! This is the traditional end of term summary and looking forward to a new season.
We said farewell to Benedict in June and wish him all the best with his new job in Shrewsbury. He joined the choir at the same time as I five years ago. I certainly found singing under his direction challenging at times but I think we can all agree that he lifted the standard of our performances.
We have appointed a new Musical director, David Wynne. Those of you who were at the audition on Monday 8th July will have met him already. He has supplied a short biography included below so you can get to know him before he starts!
For the last 4 years David has been Music Director of Birmingham Festival Choral Society. He is relinquishing his current role as MD of the Ryton Chorale (Worksop) where he has been director for 6 years.
As a visiting lecturer at the Royal Birmingham Junior Conservatoire, David works as choral director of the Senior Chorus and the Vocal Ensemble. He teaches choral conducting, singing and musicianship, and is also vocal co-ordinator for the department.
With his wife, Alexandra, they co-run (and co-founded) the St. Chad’s Cathedral Junior Choir and the extensive Choral Outreach Programme which sees them teaching choral singing to approx. 500 children a year across Birmingham. He has worked with some of the country’s leading music education organisations, including: Opera North, Welsh National Opera, the Armonico Consort and Leicester and Leeds Cathedral’s education departments. He holds a masters’ degree in Vocal and Operatic performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and studied choral conducting with Paul Spicer after receiving a scholarship. He is a busy freelance baritone soloist, up until recently, a lay clerk at St. Chad’s Cathedral Birmingham, and has performed several times as a musician of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Away from music David enjoys cooking and walking his Dalmatian, Sherlock. He and his wife Alexandra are proud parents to Sidney (aged 1), who is now eating them slowly out of house and home.
Unfortunately he has to give notice to his existing choir so will not take up his post until 25th Nov when we start our rehearsals for the Messiah. For our autumn rehearsals and concert Rebecca Mills who all of you know will be acting Musical Director. I am very grateful to Rebecca for stepping into this role.
I would like to thank all members of the choir who turned up for the auditions on July 8th and 15th. Not only did it mean the committee where able to gauge opinion from across the choir it also meant our prospective MD had a full choir to work with.
We can reflect on a successful and varied programme. For our November 2018 concert marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War we had the reflective Faure’s Requiem and the optimism of Rutter’s Gloria. This was followed by our annual performance of the Messiah at St Nicholas Church in Kenilworth. Our spring concert was the well received St John Passion. Lastly our ‘Music for a summer evening’ more Madrigals and a venture into Opera Choruses performed for an enthusiastic audience.
We had intended to start the new season with Handel’s Israel in Egypt. However the cost of the orchestra would amount to about £4,000. Given all the other costs involved and our average audience size we estimated that the potential loss would be approximately £5,000. Although we do have reserves it would not be prudent or sustainable in the long run to cover such losses from reserves. We are therefore performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.
I think we all wish to put on the larger scale works with orchestra. To cover losses there are a number of options such as increasing membership fees and increase the price of tickets. We have done both of these recently but only substantial further increases could cover the cost of performing large scale works. This is not an attractive option.
We have started a Sponsorship Scheme and a Friends of the Choir scheme. This is beginning to bear fruit with just over £1,000 raised so far. This is a good start but more needs to be done. Please assist in any way you can.
I should like, on the Choir’s behalf, to acknowledge the sterling work that continues to be undertaken by members of the Committee – Nick Gilbert, Jane Brock, Caroline Robertson, Stephanie Lane, Adrian Hopkinson, Anne-Marie Reddin, Rosemary Lawrence, Lynne Mann, Joan Stevens and Sheila Verrier.
On this point Anne Marie Reddin is leaving the committee. We do need new committee members. We work not on the principal of ‘many hands make light work’ rather than ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. So please consider if you can make a contribution.
Look forward to seeing you all with lusty voices on September 2nd at Coten End School.
Dates for your Diary
2/9/19 First rehearsal Coten End School
23/11/19 Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle St Nicholas Warwick
10/12/19 Handel Messiah St Nicholas Kenilworth
Please note this is a Tuesday which gives an extra Monday for rehearsal
28/3/20 Haydn The Seasons St John’s Kenilworth
Date TBC Music for Summer venue TBC
Chairman’s Newsletter 21.5.19
Dear fellow choir members,
As I am sure most of you will know by now, Benedict has sadly told us that he will be leaving us after the end of this term. It has been a challenging and interesting five years with him at the musical helm, and we shall be very sorry to lose his energetic input. He has been appointed Head of Choral Music at Shrewsbury School, and we all wish him every success in his new endeavour. We will be making a formal presentation to him at the annual choir dinner on Monday June 24th at the Moorings. If you are not singing with us this term, please do come along to the dinner to meet up with your fellow singers and enjoy an evening of good food and good company. If you would like to come, please email Ann-Marie Reddin (email@example.com) to put your name down.
Of course, losing Benedict means we are now looking for another Music Director, and a great advert has been put together which is circulating on Twitter and Facebook. (This is also on the Welcome page of this website.) Please do share it with anyone you think might be interested in the post. We have planned to carry out initial interviews on 1st July and we are then hoping that we will be able to get everyone interested from the choir to help us with the musical auditions.
I know that many people find it difficult to meet choir commitments at this time of the year and so don’t actually sing in the concert, but please do come and support us if you can on Saturday June 22nd at St, Nicholas Church, Kenilworth.
With best wishes
Some dates for your diary
- Saturday 1st June 4.30 Coventry Cathedral. Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. A selection of choral and orchestral music. Ticketsource.co.uk/spiresmusic.
- Sunday 9th June. From 11 a.m. CBSO Song Festival – Learn and perform Baltic and British music. £13. 0121 780 3333 . cbso.co.uk/event/song-festival.
- Saturday 15th June. 7.30 p.m. Holy Trinity Church Stratford. Our own Rebecca directs the Guild Consort Choir in the Brahms Requiem plus a performance by Benedict and his sister Eleanor. £10 on the door.
Chairman’s newsletter 4.4.19
Dear fellow singers,
I hope you are all enjoying singing both the madrigals and the opera choruses this term, despite the fact that they are both such weighty tomes! I wanted to remind you of some dates for your diary.
Rehearsal dates (no rehearsals during school holidays or on bank holidays)
April 8th April 29th May 13th May 20th June 3rd June 10th June 17th
Concert Date: Saturday June 22nd
St Nicholas’ Church, Kenilworth.
The annual Choir Dinner to celebrate another successful season – this will be on Monday 24th June, just after the summer concert. This was a lovely evening last year, so do come along, relax and enjoy a pleasant meal in good company. More details to follow.
I am also adding the rehearsal website addresses from our Facebook page, so ably organised by Caroline. Now we can all practise diligently over Easter!
The John Fletcher site needs you to register. Some files, e.g. the madrigals, are free, but the opera choruses need a £10 fee. It can be awkward to navigate.
Choralia asks for a donation but you can click through to the mp3 files if you choose not to donate. There are lots of confusing additions to their pages but just look around for the small arrow to click on to play the part you need. There are also recordings available on YouTube.
Best wishes and happy singing
Keep checking up/commenting on Twitter: @WandKCS
Facebook: Warwick and Kenilworth Choral Society