From the chair
Mo Dunning and the Trustees reflected on the 2019-2020 season, in which Stanmore Choral Society had experienced some highs and lows.
Harry Broadford’s arrival
It started by welcoming Harry Bradford, the new musical director and making a very encouraging start to the new season. Sadly though, two weeks prior to the Spring concert, the whole of the UK was put into lockdown due to COVID-19. So, the concert, and the rest of rehearsals for the remainder of the season, were cancelled.
Come and Sing Event
Harry made an excellent start to the season, along with James Mooney-Dutton, by running a Come and Sing workshop. It was well attended by both members of the choir and by a significant number of guests.
The event was held at St Mary-the-Virgin, and the atmosphere was one of a combination of fun and hard work. The pieces chosen for the Come and Sing were Zadok the Priest and Let thy Hand be Strengthened by Handel, I was Glad by Parry, and Evening Hymn by Balfour Gardiner. Following the workshop, the attendees then gave a performance of their work to family and friends. It was a very successful day.
Harry brought a change to the Christmas concert and a first for Stanmore Choral, at least in recent history.The concert opened with a very exciting rendition of Zadoc the Priest and Let thy Hand be Strengthened, both inspiring Handel pieces, so that none of the audience was sleeping after this. Then came a first,Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with harp accompaniment. This was a real treat, both for the choir and for the audience. The harpist, Esther Beyer and soloists, Sapphire Armitage and Maisie Hulbert, brought wonderful quality with their performances. The second half of the concert followed the usual Carol concert tradition, with audience participation, some readings and some enthusiastic pieces with the children in the audience. The church was full and there was a lovely atmosphere with the serving of mince pies and wine adding to the spirit. In keeping with the aim of the choir to extend our love of music to all, tickets were free to children.
Still singing – virtually
The Spring Term started well with everyone enjoying learning the new pieces of music. These were: Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Durante’s The Magnificat, Haydn’s Insanae et Vanae Curae and Mozart’s Ave Verum. As the weeks went on, it became apparent that COVID-19 was spreading very fast and just two weeks prior to the concert the government brought in a shutdown to all activities and people were told they must remain at home. All rehearsals, and hence concerts, were stopped. Since then, although many aspects of society are returning to normal, all choral activities are still banned.
This major interruption of the choir’s activities led to the set-up of on-line meetings through the media of Zoom. It is anticipated that these Zoom rehearsals will continue until choral rehearsals are allowed to be restarted. When the change of policy enables the choir to re-start it will ensure that all rules for safety are followed. Making Music, the group that Stanmore Choral Society belongs to, provides advice, support resources as well as insurance to leisure time music groups. It is actively involved in advising choirs at present and will be a vital resource for ensuring that the choir follows the correct procedures when the time comes to return.
Thanks were extended to Harry for such an excellent start to the season and for adapting so quickly to moving the choir to rehearse on line with Zoom when the lock-down began. And as always thanks to James for providing such excellent accompaniment in rehearsal, concerts and now innovative ideas on Zoom.
The choir continued to have its rehearsals in the Church Hall at St William of York and concerts in St Mary the Virgin, until the COVID19 restrictions prevented face to face activity. The trustees thank Rev Canon Michael Munnelly and Father Edward Lewis respectively for welcoming them, and hope to return when restrictions are lifted. They also thank Father Edward for continuing to be their President and to Brian Seaton who was the Examiner of choir accounts.
It is good to note that this year has seen an increase of new members in all parts. However, the interruption caused by COVID will inevitably bring some challenges and, one hopes, some new opportunities when live singing re-starts.