Monthly Archives: September 2016

2016 Chairman’s Report

It is once again a privilege to present my annual report to the AGM of the GCOCA.  This is tinged with a little sadness as this will be my last as your Chairman.  Mandy and I will be spending much more of our lives abroad in the future which will make it impossible for me properly to be able to fulfill my duties for the Association.

As is the custom, I shall look back over the past year and forward to our 2017 Reunion which will be on Saturday 16th September next year.

Your Committee has met three times since last year’s Reunion.  We have concentrated our efforts in the team, on preparation for this year’s Reunion – the  Friday night concert and today’s AGM, Evensong and Dinner at which our guest speaker will be Roy Massey, whom we are pleased will be accompanied by his wife, Ruth.

I recall that this time last year I made a plea for further help and support on the Committee.  Specific Committee support has been difficult to muster and its work has been left to the loyal few, ably and energetically supported by Jonathan Hope and the Cathedral Office team.  My thanks must be recorded here for them.  Additionally, my sincere thanks go to Elvin Young, John Heywood and Alan Iles for their continuing support and assistance on the Committee.  But looking ahead, I would be failing in my duty if I were not to state my real concerns regarding the Association going forward.  I know there are many Old Choristers who are within “working age” who would genuinely help if they had spare time in their lives and recently, good friends such as Matthew Cann and Andrew Douglas have been most supportive and engaged.  So, what of the future?  We all know how busy and full-on our lives have become.  Work demands more of our time and energy than ever before and family demands on top of these almost totally rule out time for extracurricular activities.  So, again I appeal to all Old Choristers who may now have more time on their hands to re-engage with the Association and help encourage the next generations of boy and girl choristers to become part of this Association which for over 50 years has supported the Cathedral and its music.

Communication, which includes marketing and PR will be key to growth and it is really encouraging to report that we have had very positive responses from young Old Choristers and their parents, some of whom will attend Evensong and Dinner today.  We will all make them most welcome.  The future of the GCOCA will depend on members who can find time to help by “doing things” to keep the Association afloat and fulfilling its objectives as set out in the original terms of reference which still need to be reviewed.

Thanks are also due to Colin Charter who has attended the National Federation events this year and given us splendid reports which are on our website for all to read.  The Association owes so much to Colin and of course, to his wonderful wife Alison, who sadly passed away during the past year.  Alison was such a rock for Colin and did so much for the Cathedral, the Choir and our Association.  She is greatly missed by us all, but we keep alive so many fond memories.

Last evening, the Cathedral Choir put on a beautiful recital for our Association.  We all recognise how much effort must have gone into the preparation for this and those of us who were present showed our appreciation most whole-heartedly.  Thanks must go to Adrian Partington, Jonathan Hope, the Lay Clerks and Choristers for a tremendous performance with Parry’s “I was Glad” being, for me the high spot.  Timing, dynamics and diction were simply perfect and the final chords were allowed to roll around the acoustic for a good ten seconds before our vigorous applause!

I was delighted to meet the Cathedral’s new Precentor last evening, who, having been in post for almost one week, expressed his best wishes for our Reunion and who very much would like to continue involvement with the Association.  I have also been in touch with Richard Latham and Mark Wildman who send their apologies for this evening along with their best wishes for a super event.

This year, we return to the traditional timing for our Reunion Dinner and it is encouraging to see that numbers are up on last year’s Lunch by 25%.

In conclusion, thank you for giving me the chance to serve the Association for the past three years:  we wish you all well for the future and many new and exciting beginnings for this much loved Association.

With all our best wishes.

John Balsdon
September 2016

A Review of the 2016 FCOCA AGM

Many thank to Colin Charter for attending the AGM on behalf of the Association and providing us with a most detailed report.

FCOCA. Federation AGM 2016, Saturday 7 May

This year the Wakefield Old Choristers’ Association celebrates its Golden Jubilee and held a celebratory Choral Evensong and Dinner in the Nave of the Cathedral on the Friday evening prior to the Federation AGM on the Saturday. An invitation was made to all Federation members attending the AGM to extent their visit and join the WCOCA Reunion on the Friday evening. This was an opportunity not to be missed as I and my daughter could venture north a day earlier and include visits to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at Bretton Hall, Nostel Priory and the Wakefield Hepworth Gallery.

The Golden Jubilee Evensong was sung by the Senior Boy and Girl Choristers and Lay Clerks and included the Introit: To mercy, peace and love by Richard Shephard, the first performance of Preces and Responses set by John Holt a founder member of the WCOCA and Lay Clerk, and Canticles to the setting in D minor by Percy Saunders, Organist and Master of Choristers when the Association was formed. An Anthem: ‘Sing a song of Joy’ was composed for the Jubilee by Simon Lindley, also included was the Anthem: ‘Behold O God our defender’ by John Scott, a former Wakefield Old Chorister and Assistant Organist, Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral and St Thomas’ Church, Fifth Avenue, NY. John Scott’s life and untimely death were remembered in the prayers. The service concluded with the Organ Voluntary: Allegro Maestoso – 1st movement, Sonata No 1 in G by Edward Elgar.

In the Cathedral, Project 2013 had seen extensive renovations in the Nave, where the Victorian pews had been removed, the floor completely re-laid with under floor heating and incorporating a stone labyrinth following the pattern of that in Bayeaux. Project 2015 saw the redevelopment of the east end and the Crypt with the loss of use of the Quire, the high Altar and the cathedral Organ. This work had just been completed but it was now found that the organ could not be used due to dust having accumulated in the blower system. However the electronic replacement organ was still on site and so was put to good use.

So after the Voluntary we then adjourned to the refurbished Crypt for a Drinks Reception before returning to the Nave for the Golden Jubilee Dinner. More than eighty former choristers and guests were served a superb meal and were suitably entertained by the guest speaker, Neil Collier, the managing director of Priory Records. The cathedral choir had recorded CDs for Priory in each of the two preceding years.

The programme for those attending the AGM on the Saturday started with Registration and refreshment in the Crypt, then a guided tour of the cathedral followed by a Drinks Reception and Welcome by the Dean before Lunch, served in the North Quire Aisle. Delegates then adjourned to the St Mark’s Chapel in the refurbished Crypt for the AGM whilst those visitors not attending had transport provided to go to the Wakefield Hepworth galleries.

The main issues arising from the AGM were:

  • There were no nominations for the positions of Secretary or Publications Officer both who were stepping down. All other officers were re-elected. The Chairman and Vice Chairman will deal with secretarial matters for the current year.
  • Michael Barry, the Editor of the Once a Chorister magazine had died during the year, (Memorial Service at Guildford Cathedral 17 September 2016).   This year it is planned to produce a magazine but to put it on the website so that it can be downloaded and printed locally for the numbers required. Cost could be lower. The Federation would not pay for printing and posting, and would lose the income from sales ~ £1400 in 2014, ~£1200 in 2015.  Richard Watts, Westminster Abbey dealing with the website and compiling the magazine.
  • 2017 Festival at Norwich Cathedral 9th – 11th June. See FCOCA website
  • 2017 AGM at Christ Church Oxford 6th May.  A provisional programme includes Lunch, a visit to the University Museum of musical instruments, the AGM, and the combined collegiate choirs of Christ Church, Magdalen and New College singing Evensong at 6.00pm.

Tea and cakes were then provided in the Treacy Hall before attending Choral Evensong. The music included Preces and Responses set by John Holt, Canticles: Wood in F ( Collegium Regale) and the Anthem: O clap your hands, Vaughan Williams, and the final Voluntary: Carillon Sortie by Mulet.

Colin Charter
May 2016