Newsletter Summer 2019











Welcome All and Warmest Congratulations to everyone involved for a marvellous Spring Concert.  As John had intended, the Antiphons displayed how well we can sing unaccompanied (just keep the faith) and the Handel Messiah Passion Music and Hallelujah Chorus were the expected crowd pleasers, with the performance fulfilling our hopes.  It was terrific once again for the composer of the modern music we have chosen to sing to be with us both in rehearsal, where we can learn so much more about their wishes and motivations for the performance, and at the concert. So, delighted that Paul Carr had spent so much time with us at rehearsal, it was magnificent that the performance on the night of his “Requiem for an Angel” reached his own high expectations of us and he was thrilled to hear his music rendered in the fashion we achieved with the orchestra.  Paul wrote later to John and the choir to tell us that hearing our singing had inspired him to write further music, and he has noted his thanks to John and ourselves, with others, for this.

Paul Carr was also most appreciative of our soloists, who were a delight and sang wonderfully well.  They look set for great careers and certainly Paul will be looking to collaborate further with them.

We must thank all those who do so much of the behind the scenes and front of house work to make the concerts run smoothly and safely.  It was very good to see the success of the social media and other publicity in the size of the audience for the night, so much coming in the last week or two.  Katy Baldock set the tone over many weeks in advance of the concert and I know others have been following her lead and sharing her inspiring extracts and pictures with friends and far and wide.  Mention of the concert on the major music programmes was no doubt important, too.  It is something we need to do to continue to reach out to potential singers and audience alike.

I am very much hoping that we can all continue in this vein to encourage singers to join us to prepare with John for his final concert with us as Music Director after nearly 25 years in that post.  Past singers have already noted their wish to join us in Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio”, which John tells us more about below.  I do hope that you will let others that you know who sang with us before to do likewise, and singers new to us that are able and would like to join in this very special performance.  John has prepared a workshop on this work for us and those who may wish to join us, of course including our invaluable Friends.  This will take place at Norden Farm in Maidenhead on Sunday, 20th October.  Judging by his workshop on the B Minor Mass at Missenden Abbey, and with Michael, our excellent accompanist, this will be a joy and a revelation.

Meantime, the committee has been working to see how we can work to raise more funds for the choir.  Larger audiences and strong membership figures are the backbone of having sufficient money to have our rehearsals and stage performances, as our Treasurer will remind us.  There are also applications for grants, donations and fund raising activities that we undertake.

Ken Darvill, our hard working Librarian, organised a very enjoyable quiz and supper at the end of June, which raised over £570.  It was enjoyed by us all and was closely fought by the competitors, with Pippa and Chris Holloway’s team coming first for the second time in a row.  I hope they will all be with us when we next have the opportunity to take on this challenge.  Thanks to all that made this evening such a wonderful success for the choir and all who came.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again at our AGM and first rehearsal on Monday, 2 September after what I hope will be a very happy summer for you all,


“As long as we live, there is never enough singing.”  – Martin Luther



Not long now to the start of my last term as your Conductor/Music Director!  There seems no better way to finish than with one of J.S. Bach’s acknowledged masterpieces, his Christmas Oratorio, which we shall perform together on Saturday, 14 December. Because these vocal scores are available from the local library, we shall use the New Novello edition, edited by Neil Jenkins who sang as tenor soloist on more than one concert with GMCS under one of my predecessors. In the course of compiling this edition, Neil has retranslated the text from the original German, and those of you who have sung the work with the former accustomed translation by the Rev. Troutbeck should soon get used to the different words. I think it is important from our audience’s point of view that we sing it in English.

The text is taken from the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew, and comprises a cycle of six cantatas which were not originally performed as one piece, but on separate days. They were written to celebrate the whole of the Christmas period of 1734 – 1735 in Leipzig, with the performances divided between Bach’s two churches in the city. However, there is sufficient evidence to show that Bach viewed the cycle as a single, unified work.  To perform the whole composition can take more than three hours, but by carefully making several cuts it is possible for us to give a unified performance of a more usually acceptable length.

You will find the music not as difficult as some parts of the B minor Mass which we sang in 2017. It is a real joy to sing and the music is wholly uplifting. The solo Tenor Evangelist tells the story in recitative interspersed with imposing choruses, reflective chorales and solo arias for soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass, while the Orchestra sparkle their way through the score. Those of you who have sung it before will revisit an absolute treasure, and those of you who will meet it for the first time are in for a real treat.

As well as our usual full list of rehearsals, we have planned an Away Day Workshop for Sunday, 20 October at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead from 2.00pm to 5.45pm. There, we will endeavour to investigate the history behind the Christmas Oratorio, examine its construction and analyse its composition. As we did with the B minor Mass Workshop, we shall sing excerpts as we go along and generally get to know this fascinating masterpiece in greater detail than we could in our normal course of Monday rehearsals. So please make a note of the date now, and I do hope you will all come.

I hope these notes have stirred your eagerness to be part of another exciting term. I will do my best to make it a real pleasure, though Bach will surely do this for us anyway. I look forward very much to seeing you all on 2 September for the start of our journey towards the end of another era in the history of the Choir.


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



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



Our cause has now raised a grand total of £1,049.81 since we began using this fundraising facility back in 2008.  Many thanks to the 35 supporters who regularly shop in this way.

It would be great to have more of you sign up to support our cause while online shopping – administrators have no visibility of your purchases, only the store and the amount raised.  You don’t even have to use your full name, but can shop as “anonymous” etc.  Please let Suzanne know if you need a reminder as to how to begin shopping via Easyfundraising and setting up the Donation Reminder, or support in doing so.

It is good to see some “big ticket” items going through, which can raise large donations – items such as car hire, hotel bookings, white goods and money comparison websites (insurance comparisons for example).

Happy shopping!



Whilst on the subject of fundraising, the committee would like to sincerely thank those of you who attended the Quiz night on 29th June, and made it such a success.  £570 was raised for choir funds – a much needed help.

We are indebted to Ken and Angela for arranging it, Vivien for once again so ably catering for us and – behind the scenes this time – Jo, who organised the raffle.

Jo would like us to know that she already has many further raffle prizes – enough in fact for two more raffles to come, so watch this space!




As you all know by now, we are looking forward to welcoming Dr Alex Flood as our new Music Director from January 2020.  Alex is developing ideas for our musical programme for the Spring term and Christmas concert 2020, which once finalised, the committee will share with all.



These are our current committee members with contact phone numbers:

Vivien Salisbury (Chair): 01494 863988             Suzanne Bryden (Treasurer): 01494 718521

Amanda Brown (Hon Sec): 01494 863650        Ken Darvill (Librarian): 01494 713217

Linda Collins: 07710 152733                                    Jeremy Howard: 01494 866277                     

Jean Jones: 01844 342566                                      Jo Ottaway: 07971 914462                                       

Chris Purves: 01494 771400

 As you will have noted from the AGM invitation, both Linda Collins and Chris Purves have to stand down in September, having served their three years as ordinary members.  These roles will need to be filled, so please give consideration as to whether you could take on the role.  We generally have up to two meetings per term and spread the workload fairly.

We would of course, like to recognise and sincerely thank Linda and Chris for their fantastic service to the choir!



5th October (Saturday afternoon): our jumble sale!  This will be an important fundraiser for us as well as being a great opportunity for you and yours to have a good clear out!

We are aiming to have the following stalls: Bric-a-brac; Toys/ games; clothes; books; cakes, and details as to how to pass your donations to committee members will follow.

Please also consider donating a couple of hours of your time on the day, as of course the more help we have, the easier it will be for all.

20th October (Sunday afternoon): our Bach Christmas Oratorio workshop!  John has prepared an afternoon of interesting insights about this wonderful work, and we will have the added bonus of having Michael accompany us as we learn more of it.  The afternoon will be held at Norden Farm, Maidenhead and there will be a modest charge to cover piano hire, accompanist fee and refreshments.  More details will follow, but we hope that as many of you as possible will take the great opportunity that the day affords.


Enjoy the summer, and we look forward to more happy music-making together beginning on September 2nd!

August 7th, 2019