Newsletter Winter 2019


Welcome Everybody, to this special newsletter, giving details of our Christmas Concert arrangements and plans for celebrating John’s wonderful twenty-five years with the choir.  The choir has a special place in many people’s lives, as testified by the number of members, Friends and key people whose involvement, activities and enjoyment spans many years (even in some case entering the sixth or family’s seventh decade), whilst still keen to tackle new works and methods and always ready to welcome new members to the fold.

It takes somebody with particular qualities to provide directorship musically for such a choir and to lead a large and diverse group in taking on new challenges and finding new perspectives to familiar works and singing.  John’s prolific musical knowledge and boundless enthusiasm for pieces old and new, as well as his love for performance and affection for this choir have encouraged us all over the years to enjoy and appreciate choral singing of many ages and varieties, fully in line with the choir’s founding principles.

So, to mark John’s final concert as Music Director we want to make the event a huge success.  The choice of music, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, is inspired and inspiring, and a very fitting occasion at this time of year.  John’s Away Day event gave us much insight in to the work as a whole, its component parts and its context.  Our rehearsals and home study have brought us to a stage now where John can shape our performance to his vision of how he would like it to be delivered.  John has given some pointers in his section below, which I am sure will help in our learning.  We now need to follow his advice and get hard at work advertising (beautiful posters and flyers produced by Chris Purves, encouraging people to come on social media), selling tickets for a concert that I am sure the audience will enjoy.

Below are details about arrangements for the choir to note for the concert.  I am sure that we shall all feel quite exhausted by the end of the evening but hopefully utterly elated too!  We shall enjoy a few Christmas drinks with our socialising the following Monday, when we shall gather to clean up the music ready for return or storage.  After that, however, we intend to let our hair down early in the New Year with a major celebration lunch for John and his wife and family who have given him so much support over the years.  This will take place at Harewood Downs Golf Club, Cokes Lane, Chalfont St Giles, HP8 4TA on Sunday 5th January 2020 at 12.30 for 13.00hrs.  All members and partners of the choir are welcome.  Please do let Jo Ottaway know by 30 November if you wish to attend.

After all the celebrations, we shall back to start our new term on Monday 6 January, as usual at the Oldham Hall, when we shall be preparing for our spring concert of works by Beethoven and Mozart, in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Vivien Salisbury


A reminder that the rehearsals for concert week are on Monday 9th and Wednesday 11th of December, in the Church, at our usual starting time of 7:45 pm.  Please allow time to park and take your seats for a timely start.




Not long now to 14 December and my last concert after nearly 25 years as your Conductor.  I hope you are selling lots of tickets for what will be a rather special occasion.  Bach always deserves a large audience and there seems no better way for me to finish than with this acknowledged masterpiece. Thank you for the appreciative remarks I received after the Awayday Workshop which I enjoyed preparing and presenting. I do think that works of the calibre of the Christmas Oratorio deserve more investigation than is possible at weekly rehearsals of the choruses, and I was pleased to be able to give a deeper insight into it.

At the time of writing this towards the end of October, rehearsals have been going quite well since we started in September, despite several absences along the way which I’m sure were unavoidable. I hope it is understood that I have had to prepare my rehearsal programme and chart before the start of the term on the basis that everyone is at each practice, because, when doing so, I don’t know if anyone will be away or when.   I have to rely on individuals to keep up with the learning when they miss, and that is one of the reasons for the rehearsal chart.

The shortage of numbers in the tenor section continues to give concern, and it is not too late for others who know the work to join. I do admire the stoical efforts by those we have, but we do need a few more to provide a good balance in the performance and to relieve the pressure on our present stalwarts. Does anyone know any others?

Thank you to those who arrange sectional practices for note-learning purposes. The benefit of these shows clearly at Monday rehearsals and saves valuable time which needs to be spent on all the other matters necessary in preparing a performance. One of these is getting every singer to engage with the audience. It is crucial for a good performance that every singer knows the music well enough to lift eyes from the copy and actively communicate with the audience – in other words, to ‘act out’ the music. It’s an incredible effect when an entire choir has every eye up ‘selling‘ the music to the audience.  Try singing your part while looking in a mirror and you’ll see what I mean. Also, please keep practising daily the exercises which I have given you for reaching the high notes, and you’ll find they become easy by the time we reach the concert. Further, do practise articulating all the words clearly – it’s vital that they come over in the performance sufficiently for the audience to hear them without difficulty, so aim for nice round vowels and crisp consonants at beginnings and ends of words. Speaking the words out loud to yourself  is a good way to achieve this.

I have every confidence that, if you bear these things in mind and give time to them, and if we have full attendances on Mondays, the whole work can come together and the concert can be a huge success.  The orchestra and soloists are looking forward to it very much indeed, and I’m sure they will inspire us all on the day. Could it be the best ever?

Finally, as we head towards the end of my era with you, I want to thank each and every one of you, past and present members, Friends and other supporters for your commitment and dedication to the cause of this wonderful Choir.  It has been one of the happiest periods of my life – we’ve worked hard, we’ve had fun and we’ve produced results.  It has given me much satisfaction and great joy, and I say this from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you all.       JOHN



Dress Code – Dress will be as usual, black DJs and bow ties for the men and black tops with full or three quarter length sleeves and skirts for formal evening wear type trousers for the women.  We shall provide the bling.  Please no aftershave/perfumes that are likely to aggravate allergies and affect singers’ voices.

TimetableJohn 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.

Photograph – we plan to take a fresh photograph of the choir just before the start of the performance, so please be in your seats by 7:15 pm prompt.

 Access to the Churchwhen 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 – 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 DoorIf 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.




If you have started your Christmas shopping on Amazon via Easyfundraising, you will have received a message letting you know that Amazon now has its own fundraising mechanism – Amazon Smile.  Here is an extract from Amazon’s website:


What’s AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on The difference is that when you shop on, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) to the eligible charitable organisation of your choice.

On your first visit to you need to select a charitable organisation to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

Great Missenden Choral Society has been set up as an eligible charity to receive donations from Amazon, so please do nominate the choir, and continue raising funds when shopping on Amazon.

Of course, 3,000 other retailers continue to use Easyfundraising, so do continue to support the choir in this way.

Please ask Suzanne if you need further information or assistance with either of these items.



Once again, the committee would like to sincerely thank all those who donated to and helped at the Jumble Sale in October, and for all the bakers who donated such a lot of wonderful cakes!  We managed to raise £233 on the day and subsequent sales of leftover items raised a further £40.  Any unsold items were distributed to local charity shops, so nothing went to waste.



The committee was delighted to receive an email from McCarthy and Stone, offering to make a donation to the choir.  This retirement homes builder has given us a very welcome £250!

If any member can think of other large companies who may make a donation as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes as a sponsor, please do let us know.



On Monday 16th December, we shall have our usual get together at the Oldham Hall to clean up the borrowed scores so that our Librarian Ken can return them in good order.  Drinks and nibbles will be available. Because we shall be having the celebration lunch on Sunday 5th January, the rubbing out evening will be in place of the usual Christmas party. If you are unable to be there please ensure that scores are returned in advance of 16th December.



Here is a reminder of the many resources which can help us to familiarise ourselves with our music, and learn the notes:


FINALLY, a reminder of the choir’s 2019.20 committee members:

Chair: Vivien Salisbury

Hon. Secretary: Amanda Brown

Hon. Treasurer: Suzanne Bryden

Hon Librarian: Ken Darvill

Committee members: Isabelle Reynolds; Jean Jones; Jo Ottaway and Jeremy Howard



November 20th, 2019