Newsletter Winter 2018









Chair’s Introduction

WELCOME, EVERYONE, to our Winter newsletter, giving you all the information about dates to note for the future, concert day requirements and arrangements, a reminder about our Christmas party on 17 December and general choir news.

We are well on the way in our preparation for the Christmas concert on Saturday, 15 December.  A number of us have previously sung Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, which still sounds fresh every time we approach it, and it has been very helpful for us that there are members who have performed and loved the Rossini “Petite Messe Solonnelle” and so are able to join with John’s careful preparation of the programme in taking us at some speed towards knowing the music well enough to take advantage of the additional work required to take our rendition to performance standard.

Please do make sure all your family, friends and colleagues have their tickets ready and remind people that they can book online.  Chris Purves has woven her magic again in producing posters and flyers (and the massive undertaking of the concert programme) and I know that you will have been sending out the e-version of the handbills and posters that were forwarded to you to send out to all those you think might like to come.  There will be more printed versions at the rehearsal on Monday and I am sure already you will be taking care to provide every possible means to displaying these, ensuring posters are renewed where they take a battering from the winds and rain and publicising the concert far and wide.  Katy Baldock has set up a Facebook page for us and we do urge you to employ all the social media possibilities that you can to advertise the choir and the concert.   As in previous years, we do hope to have full capacity audience and publicity and personal connections remain very important for this.

Over past years we have enjoyed the presence of many composers at our rehearsals for works of theirs that we are performing.  This can give us an important insight into their thinking and wishes for the piece and ways in which we can tailor our singing to this end.  It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Mike Sheppard, the composer from nearby Beaconsfield who wrote the carol “When a Baby is Born”, to our rehearsal on 12 November and learnt from him his experience as a brass instrumentalist and orchestral member, as well as his main interest now in composing and having his works performed.  Not only the music but the words were written by him for his carol and have a real significance for him and for the work.  We will try to put in to practice all that he imparted and hope that he will be pleased, along with the rest of the audience, with the end result.

We are delighted that Paul Carr, the composer of “Requiem for an Angel” which we will be singing at the Spring Concert, will be joining us for both a rehearsal in March and the Concert on 13 April.  Only newly published, the work is already gaining a large following and is wonderful to hear.  As John wrote in his pre-season’s notes, it is available on CD and on YouTube, which will give people a flavour of the requiem and the presence of Paul at our rehearsal should really sharpen our knowledge and understanding of the composition in readiness for the performance.  With parts from the Messiah in our programme, this should prove a varied and popular concert with something for everyone.

The Friends of the choir are always welcome to these opportunities to hear and meet the composers.  They are an integral part of the choir and their support and enjoyment of these and other choir events is most appreciated.

Our Christmas Party will be on Monday, 17 December, the Monday after the concert.  Details and tickets will be available soon.  After all the effort and excitement of the concert, it is a great time for members, Friends and their guests to relax and have fun, talk about the music and the fun times to come.  It is always enjoyable to mix with people from other sections of the choir and to get feedback from the audience.  As well as the wonderful support from our Friends, there are others who help on concert days and in the background throughout the year and the Christmas Party is a happy occasion in which we can all share.

We shall return on Monday, 7 January, 7.45 pm, as ever in the Oldham Hall, to start our rehearsals for the Spring Concert.

As we all know, John has told us that as he approaches his 85th birthday and his 25th season with us in a year’s time he is looking towards his retirement.  Val Withams, our President, has advised us on the appropriate places to advertise and timescales and John has given the benefit of his experience in these matters.  The Committee is working to find the right person to take over from him at the appropriate time.  Adverts were placed in the relevant musical sites at the end of August/beginning September.  By the closing date of 2 November, we had received 10 expressions of interest and 9 firm applications.  The quality of the applicants has been extremely high.  We are beginning to hold meetings with our shortlisted candidates and the next part of the recruitment process will be to ask each of them to lead half a rehearsal session with us.  Ideally, these will take place on 21st and 28th Jan and 4th February 2019.  We would like to have really good attendances by choir members, so that you can feed back to the Committee your views and wishes, as well as those of our wonderful accompanist, Michael, and John’s reflections on the rehearsals he will have seen.  These will all feed in to the Committee’s considerations about whom to invite to take on the post.

Meantime, let’s enjoy our rehearsals for our December concert and make it a splendid occasion for everyone,                                                                                                                                                  Vivien





From the Music Director

I’m sure you are all looking forward to our approaching concert with its very attractive programme of wonderful music. I hope too you are selling lots of tickets so that all your hard work will be rewarded by a large audience.  They’ll love seeing and hearing the harp in the Britten and the brilliant piano and organ playing in the Rossini, plus of course your own inspired singing!

I think the rehearsals have been going very well indeed, and with a few more to go, we should be up to a high performance standard.  I hope you felt benefitted by the lesson in vocal technique which Mike Sheppard gave you on 12 November, and I’m glad he noticed your good diction in his beautiful carol. This needs of course to apply to the other works as well, and Mike and his wife are coming to the concert, so impress them! As I’ve said before, singing text is not like speaking it – a different technique is required in that you have to work harder at extending the vowel sound and articulating the consonants.  So I suggest that, each time you do your private practice, you first read the words aloud many times (including those in the Rossini), exaggerating the consonants and vowels, so that you are entirely familiar with them and their exaggerated pronunciation.  Then transfer them to the music and sing them with the same exaggerations – it may feel funny to you but it won’t sound so to the listener. If everyone does this, you will find a thrill in the teamwork of which you are part.

Also, if I may say so, a few of you seem to be too much buried in the scores and all I see is the top of your heads.  By this stage, you should be able to use the scores for reference only and not for reading every note all the time. So, please everyone, stand and sit upright in a proper singer’s posture, and hold the scores so that they don’t hide your face and so that you and I can have eye contact all the time.   That way, the entries will be confidently together and you will not only ’perform’ the pieces but you will derive much more satisfaction from doing so.

Thank you so much for putting the work in during the term and many thanks to those who have organised and held sectional practices. I’m sure you’re on the road to another great performance.  I’m very excited about it – and so are the soloists! It’s also wonderful to be able to give Michael a prominent part in the concert.                                                 John


“Composing is like driving down a foggy road towards a house.  Slowly you see more details of the house – the colour of the slates and bricks, the shape of the windows.  The notes are the bricks and the mortar of the house.”  BENJAMIN BRITTEN


GMCS has gone “social”!


A HUGE thank you to soprano Katy Baldock, who has set up a Facebook page for the choir.  Facebook works best when pages and posts are liked, followed, commented upon and shared, so please, if you are on Facebook, visit our page often, and encourage your friends and family to do likewise! It will be a great way to disseminate information about our concerts and bring our performances to a wider audience.


Follow this link:


Treasurer’s message

Thank you to those people who have kindly added donations to their subscriptions this season. This has raised £211 for Choir funds this term.

Thanks too, for those of you who have brought items to sell at rehearsals: we’ve had apples, grapes, plants and the ever popular book selection.  So far this term, our bring and buy has raised over £50.  This is obviously a valuable fundraising activity, so please do keep donating items which you no longer want, and others may buy. Thank you.


Concert Day Notes

Dress Code – Vivien will be speaking about the Dress Code in the run up to the concert but as usual, please no aftershave/perfumes that are likely to aggravate allergies and affect singer’s voices.

Timetable – John has confirmed the timing of the rehearsal. He aims for a prompt start at 2pm so please be ready and settled in place by that time.

Access to the Church- when you arrive for Saturday’s rehearsal and the performance please enter through the vestry door. This avoids disturbing the orchestra area-but see Security below.

Security –   The Church itself and surrounding area is a high-risk area prone to opportunistic theft of personal property.

It is important that valuables are not brought to rehearsals or the performance. There will be a volunteer steward providing security at the vestry door.  It is important that the vestry door is not left open or closed “on the latch” at any time.

Take the normal precautions of not leaving any items on display in your car and lock your vehicle.

Helpers. Helpers. We need more!  We are fortunate to have a few people who are always willing to help, acting as Stewards/ Front of House/Security and setting up/clearing away.  However, we do need extra help.  Could any of you or your friends/partners get involved and join the team?  That would be much appreciated.  If so, please let a member of the committee know.   This is especially important AFTER the concert.  Many hands make light work – willing helpers are sought for 10/15 minutes after the performance to tidy the church to its normal setting.  Again, please let a member of the committee know if you or someone you know is able to help.

Car Parking

Access Road – There are double yellow lines on the road leading up to the church. Furthermore, emergency vehicle access must be preserved.

Disabled.  Parking spaces are very limited. Those with a real need for priority disabled parking please let Jeremy Howard know the name and make, model and registration number of car.  Jeremy will give you the appropriate permit.

Choir/Volunteer Helpers.  Parking on the unmade road down from the top gate in the evening of the concert is limited to those members who help clear afterwards.  Please let Jeremy Howard have your name, make and model of car and registration, and he will give you a parking permit.

These parking permits should be fixed or held inside the windscreen on the left side to be seen by the parking stewards on arriving at the car park entrance.

Tickets for collection at the Door – If you wish to organise tickets to be collected at the door please place them in a white envelope BOLDLY marked with the names of the person collecting them, and whether payment has/has not been made.



Raising Funds


DON’T FORGET that you can raise funds for choir whilst surfing!

Shopping through the Easyfundraising website having nominated GMCS as your good cause, raises commission which is paid to the choir.  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. Here’s how to set up an account:

You can even prompt a reminder to pop up if you go to a website which supports Easyfundraising, if you go to the site without going via Easyfundraising.

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

In the current calendar year, Easyfundraising has raised over £24 for choir funds.

Happy shopping!                                                                           


Online learning resources

There are many resources which can help us to familiarise ourselves with our music, and learn the notes:


Return of scores

Please will you either return your scores by placing them in the boxes in the vestry after the performance on 15th December, bringing them to the Christmas party (preferably with the markings rubbed out),or rubbing out all markings after the concert and giving them to someone who is coming to the party, if you can’t make it.  Thank you.




After all the hard work and exhilaration of the concert, we like let our hair down and celebrate with our Christmas Party, which takes place on 17th December, the Monday after the concert, at 7.45 pm in the Oldham Hall.  Bring friends or family if you wish.  We have lots of good food, the first drink included in the price of the ticket, lots of fun, chat and laughter with all our colleagues throughout the choir and our Friends….and of course it’s a chance to sing carols together as a start to our holiday festivities.  Tickets will be available at rehearsals – listen out for details to be announced.



 Committee member phone numbers, should you want or need to contact any of us:

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.


December 2nd, 2018