Newsletter Summer 2018


Chair’s Introduction – Director of Music’s pre-season notes – Important notice about concert week rehearsals

Fundraising – Online learning resources – Committee – Social Media – Your personal information

Friends of GMCS – Music Director



Welcome, Everyone, to this Summer Newsletter,

And what a summer it has turned out to be so far:  long, hot, dry and only now summer showers but with the promise of more sunshine to come.  It has felt positively chilly at times this weekend and the storms have been spectacular, and dangerous for many elsewhere in the country, but such freshness in the air!  And on Saturday a rainbow shone out across Great Missenden.  Compensation, perhaps for missing the blood moon eclipse and a wonder of joy to behold!  So enough of the lyrics, albeit that clear enunciation and working on our consonants is critical, it is time to be thinking again of music in the autumn.

We look forward to starting our new term on Monday, September 3rd, 2018 at the Oldham Hall, Church Street, Great Missenden with the Annual General Meeting of the Great Missenden Choral Society will be held at 7.30 p.m., prior to a short break and the first rehearsal of the season.  Our Music Director’s notes on the music we shall be singing this year are attached.  Our Christmas Concert, ‘ROSSINI rejoices with BRITTEN’, takes place on Saturday, 15 December, 2018, with rehearsals that week on Monday and Wednesday evenings at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Great Missenden, and on the afternoon of the concert at the church with the orchestra and soloists.  It will be a very popular concert for singers and audience alike with:

Britten – A Ceremony of Carols

Mike Sheppard – When a Baby is born

Rossini – Petite Messe Solennelle

The Britten and the Rossini pieces may well be known to a number of members of the choir whilst the Mike Sheppard work was written very recently and is beautiful.  It is so good to have such a gifted composer living nearby in Beaconsfield.  Rhidian Jones will be joining us as organist once more and a particular joy will be the involvement of our fabulous accompanist, Michael McMillan playing piano.

There are places in the soprano section of the choir that we would like to see back to its full strength of previous years and we will be very happy to meet enthusiastic singers for all the other sections who might like to join this happy and friendly choir.  So, please, if you know of anybody that likes to sing and would enjoy being part of our choir, do invite them to join us this autumn.

This will be the 24th year that our Music Director, John Cotterill, has been with us.  We know that he will be retiring as he approaches his 25th year and his 85th birthday.  We are already in the process of advertising to ensure a smooth and celebratory handing over of the baton.  A copy of the advert we intend to use will appear in this newsletter and on the website.  There will be much to celebrate.

If there are any members willing to become committee members and officers, please do let myself or Suzanne know.  After many years as a wonderful and sympathetic Treasurer, Geoff Povey will be standing down.  A new secretary would be wonderful, as Suzanne has already stated her willingness to take on this post if no other suitable person comes forward.

Have a great August and looking forward to seeing you on 3 September.


…Don’t forget! We love to encourage younger people to join our ranks, and have a number of bursaries available to cover their fees.



Welcome to a new season of wonderful music! Our first concert on 15 December 2018 will be called ‘Rossini rejoices with Britten’ and will comprise a programme devised not only to celebrate Christmas but also to mark the 150th anniversary in November of the death of Giocchino Rossini.  Benjamin Britten’s attractive ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ was originally written for treble voices alone and was first performed in 1942 in Norwich Castle by the women’s voices of the Fleet Street Choir. The original version did not include two movements which were added in the summer of 1943.   In 1955 the complete work was arranged for four-part choir by Julius Harrison at the suggestion of the publishers, Boosey & Hawkes, and presumably with the composer’s permission.  For our performance, I am asking our four soloists, who are necessary for the Rossini work (see below), to sing parts of the Britten so that we make full use of their presence, but it will still leave plenty for the Choir. You may remember I did the same with Vivaldi’s Gloria last season, and it worked very well.  The Britten piece is written to be accompanied by a harp alone, which adds greatly to its attraction, and I have booked a brilliant young harpist to play for us.

Our President, Val Withams, has introduced me to a beautiful unaccompanied carol by Mike Sheppard who lives in Beaconsfield. It is called ‘When a baby is born’ and it is simply delightful. I know you will enjoy singing it before the interval in the concert, and if it goes as well as the Moeran songs in the last concert it should be a real winner. Mike has been described as ‘a truly complete 21st century musician’.  He is perfectly at home in many genres of music – classical, jazz, music theatre and choral music. He is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who is equally comfortable conducting a choir or orchestra, or programming a computer, or sitting behind a mixing desk. His published works for performance include music for choirs, orchestras and jazz ensembles. He is also a published author on music education which he describes as his driving passion. Mike has agreed to come to our rehearsal on Monday, 12 November, so please make a firm note of that date now.

The rest of the concert will comprise one work, the Petite Messe Solennelle by Rossini. Although he is known primarily as an opera composer, Rossini did write sacred music from his youth. His most extensive sacred work is this Mass which was written in 1863 and in truth is neither ‘petite’ nor ‘solennelle’!  It was first written for four soloists, double quartet (chorus), two pianos and harmonium, but was subsequently orchestrated by Rossini himself. For our performance it will be heard in the charming original version, save for the substitution of a larger choir (you!) for the double quartet, organ (Rhidian Jones)  for the harmonium and a single piano played by Michael. It will be so good to give Michael the chance of being part of a concert after all his brilliant work accompanying our rehearsals.  Despite Rossini’s severe critics who maintained he was fit only to write comic opera and who rather ridiculed his sacred works, there is in the sacred works a quite natural and expressive piety which breathes its own breath. In an autographed addendum to the full score of the Petite Messe, Rossini answers his critics with sarcasm describing the work as “the last mortal sin of my old age”, and addressing his footnote to God. “Dear God, there it is complete, this poor little Mass – is it really sacred music I have made or is it really music of the devil? I was born for comic opera as Thou well knowest.  Little skill, a little bit of heart, and that is all. So be Thou blessed and admit me to Paradise.”    I know some of you have sung this work before, but it seems no singer ever minds how many times it is done, and those of you who have not sung it before are in for a real treat! I’ve booked four excellent young soloists whom I’m sure you will enjoy, and I am certainly looking forward to conducting the work again.

Our Spring concert next year will be on 13 April 2019, the day before Palm Sunday, so we will start with one, perhaps two, of Schubert’s very short Antiphons for Palm Sunday which will be followed by the St. John’s Chamber Orchestra playing the Prelude to Bach’s Palm Sunday Cantata 182. This should lead nicely into the rest of the first half consisting of the Passion Music and Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s ‘Messiah’, all of which I’m sure needs no introduction from me. After the interval, we shall give a rather special performance of a wonderful discovery – ‘Requiem for an Angel’ by contemporary composer, Paul Carr. You will find this enchanting work very accessible and hugely satisfying to sing beautifully. It was written in loving memory of the composer’s mother, Una Hale, the Australian soprano, who died in 2005, and it was first performed in June 2006 at Warminster by the Athenaeum Singers and Bath Philharmonia conducted by Paul’s brother, Gavin Carr. It received a standing ovation from a packed church.  Paul has said he would wish this work to be thought of as a comforting expression of love and compassion, rather than one simply adhering to the formalities of the Church. If you are not captured by the beauty of this lovely piece, I will eat my baton! Paul lives at Bath, and I said above that our performance will be special: this is because he has told me he would not only like to come to the concert but would also be very pleased to attend one of our later rehearsals (date not yet fixed) to give us his own insight into the piece!  Now that must be something to look forward to, and I hope everyone will not want to miss out on it.  The St. John’s Chamber Orchestra and two soloists are required, and I’m delighted to say that Milly Forrest (soprano) has agreed to come again, along with a superb young baritone, Adam Maxey. There is a CD of ‘Requiem for an Angel’ on Stone Records No.5060192780048 and it’s also obtainable on YouTube.  Have a listen and be enthralled!

I hope these notes have stirred your eagerness to be part of another exciting season. I will do my best to make it a real pleasure, so please make sure you have a firm note of all the dates now. I look forward very much to seeing everyone for the start on 3 September.



Please remember that, with effect from the next concert, the rehearsals will take place in the Church on the Monday and WEDNESDAY evenings in the week of each concert.  This has been requested by the Church office to avoid clashes with the busy schedule of the Church choir and is a permanent change.



When you’re shopping online, please do consider doing so through the easyfundraising website which will give us commission on sales from online shopping.  There are links from this site to over 600 Brand Name retailers, including Amazon, B&Q., BHS, Curry’s, Marks and Spencer, and Waterstones. It costs us (and you) nothing.

All you need to do is go to, follow the simple steps to set up your own account, support Great Missenden Choral Society as your good cause, and shop ‘till you drop!  If we all remember to do our online shopping via the easyfundraising website (just a couple of extra “clicks”), it will make a great difference to the choir’s income.

If you choose, you can prompt a reminder whenever you go to a website which supports easyfundraising, e.g. Expedia, if you go to that company’s website without going via easyfundraising.

There is also a link to easyfundraising on the GMCS website if you wish to use it.

Thank you!


When it comes to learning the music for our concerts, even the most talented instrumentalist can benefit from some extra help!  Luckily there is a great choice out there:

Naxos recordings – available via the Bucks County Council libraries service website

You’ll need your library card number to log in, and the service is listen only, i.e., you cannot save the music to your PC.

Cyberbass is an online resource which assists part learning.  It contains the major choral works, and you can select your own voice part to listen and sing along to.  You can also slow the playback down!

You might also try: ,  and amongst others.



As you know, after 18 years our Treasurer Geoff Povey is standing down.  He has made an invaluable contribution to the committee and the job of Treasurer during his tenure, and his wise and calm counsel will be greatly missed.  This leaves a vacancy for either a new Treasurer or a new Secretary, as the current Secretary is willing to switch roles.  Please please, dig deep and consider whether you are able to take on either of these roles which are vital to the running of the choir.

We also require two new committee members.  Committee membership is not onerous – we generally have one meeting per term and share all the necessary tasks fairly, to ensure that no one person is overloaded.  Please have a think about joining our friendly committee for a tenure of three years.

Nomination forms were sent out with the AGM papers and if you would like to talk this over in confidence, please don’t hesitate to speak to an existing committee member.


Social Media

The committee would welcome support from any member who could offer help to set up and maintain a Facebook page for the choir – more and more audience is reached this way these days, and local groups could benefit from sharing each others’ pages and events.  Perhaps you have a youngster at home who could advise?  You don’t need to be Mark Zuckerberg, and it would only take a commitment of a few minutes a few times a week!  Please contact a committee member if you feel able to help.  Thank you!


Your personal information

You will no doubt have seen in the press, that there is a new data protection regulation now in force which gives you greater control of how organisations use information about you, and requires organisations who hold your information to be transparent and open about what they do with it.

Here at GMCS, we have agreed that a “light touch” is appropriate, but that it’s important that you know what information we hold about you, are reassured that it will be held securely and in confidence, and that you know how we will use it.

Look out for our notice to that effect (“Privacy Notice”) which will be handed out at the AGM along with a new contact form which will ensure that the information we hold is up to date – a requirement of data protection law.



You may have friends or family who would be interested in becoming a FRIEND of GMCS.  They could enjoy great benefits: tickets to our Christmas and Spring concerts, reserved seats and a free programme.  If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Linda Collins on


Music Director

As you know, John has intimated his intention to retire from his directorship of our choir upon attaining 25 years’ service in Spring 2020.

Recognising that John will be a hard act to follow, the committee, advised by our President Val Withams, has agreed the following course of action, with a view to getting a new Music Director in place in plenty of time to prepare for the 2020/21 season:

The following advert will be placed in selected publications and on our website this Autumn:


Great Missenden Choral Society

Music Director/Conductor

Upon completing his 25th season in April 2020, John Cotterill is to step down as Music Director/Conductor of this sociable 70-member all-age choir which rehearses and performs (with professional soloists and orchestra) in the Buckinghamshire village of Great Missenden and his successor is now sought. Information about the post may be downloaded from or email:

We shall, with John’s help and advice, select candidates with whom the committee feels it would be interested in having an informal meeting.  From those discussions, two or three candidates will be selected to lead half a rehearsal each – probably during Spring term.  Although the final decision will be the committee’s, this will give members the chance to see the candidates and feed back your views.

We shall also, of course, have the benefit of Michael’s opinion on the short-listed candidates.


And finally………


The leader of Tony’s Knights of Harmony barber shop group, Mr Peter Stoker, was recently inspired to pen this respectful parody of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “IF”, which you may enjoy….


If you can keep your pitch

When all around are losing theirs

(And blaming it on you).

If you can trust your notes when all men doubt you,

And yet be charitable – tolerate their doubting too.


If you can energise your presentation

And make the audience feel you are in touch

With the emotion of your story,

And present it with eye-catching dynamics

(But not too much)


If you can show you are a musician –

Keep tempo, sustain legato in each line.

Above all – make your director your constant focus,

Chances are, you’ll do just fine.


If you can hold the central, pure objective

Of delivering the song as best as can be done,

Yours is the Earth, and everything that’s in it,

And – what is more – you’ll be a Knight, my son!Rudyard Kipling

With respect for Rudyard Kipling

          Peter Stoker – 22 July 2018.

Enjoy the summer!

See you on September 3rd!

August 12th, 2018