Spring 2014 Newsletter



From The Chair, Vivien Salisbury

Welcome to this our spring newsletter. The excitement is rising already for our wonderful April Concert.  Those of us who were lucky enough to be at the Howard Goodall workshop will already be anticipating some glorious singing – the soloist parts are glorious and we have wonderful people singing and playing at this concert.  In particular, we are all looking forward to hearing Michael, our fantastic accompanist, play at the concert itself.

In this newsletter we a have “Voice from the Pew” giving an audience view of our last concert and an appreciation of Herta Grove, one of our founder members and lifelong supporters, who sadly died recently, alongside our more regular and important information about the spring concert and concert details.

I am sure we will all enjoy the next few weeks and the concert in April.  And, once again, we can promise a lot of fun to follow on Monday 14th April during and after cleaning the scores for the next bunch of happy singers!  Do join us at the Oldham Hall, where drinks and nibbles will be available for everyone – all donations welcome!



Rehearsals for the April concert have been going very well indeed, and my thanks to everyone for all your hard work, commitment and companionship as always.  Thank you too to all those who have arranged and attended sectional practices which prove so useful. I’m sure we are in for another success on the 12th, so please do all you can to sell lots of tickets.  This wonderful music deserves to be heard by a large audience, particularly as we approach the centenary of the start of World War 1.

We shall all no doubt feel rather flat after the concert as we go into the long summer break, but we can look forward to the start of next season on Monday, 8 September with a degree of excitement as we prepare to put the Choir even further on the map with the honour of our UK premiere performance.  Please make a special effort to attend every rehaearsal for this important occasion.. The concert dates and programmes for the season will be:-

6 December 2014

J.Christian Bach – Magnificat

Andrew Gant – PsalmWorld (UK PREMIERE)

Gerald Finzi – In Terra Pax

Jonathan Rathbone – Christmas Truce

(Andrew Gant and Jonathan Rathbone are both intending to attend one of our rehearsals and the concert.)

25 April 2015

Handel – Alexander’s Feast

(We may also have something else to rehearse alongside the Handel for a separate occasion, but a final decision has yet to be reached about this  Watch this space, as they say!)

Meanwhile, good luck to everyone for this coming concert, and don’t forget that some members of the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust will be there to check that their grant of £1500 has been well spent in recognition of our performance of ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’, so it has to be good!   Having just now completed the marking up of all the orchestral parts, I am so looking forward to it.



From the Treasurer, Geoff Povey

 We are extremely fortunate to have received a Grant of £1,500 from the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust towards the costs of our forthcoming concert.  A representative of the Trust will be attending the concert.

Thanks are due to John Cotterill for suggesting the approach. The budgetted deficit for this year is £1,644, so this Grant will hopefully cover this figure, but we shall need a fairly full church to make sure of this. Please make every effort to sell as many tickets as you can.

Thank you to those who made donations on top their subscriptions this year. These have raised £493 valuable funds.

Online shopping with Easyfundraising has raised £73.95 to date, and bring and buy items £94.55. Please continue to support the choir in this way. If anyone would like details on how to access Easyfundraising please ask me.


From The Concert Day Manager, Ron Gordon

Despite the difficulties of parking at the church the arrangements worked well in December so thank  you everybody for  your  patience. The same arrangements will apply this time – The track down from the top gate will have limited space available for those choir members who need access – A5 letter “C’s” will be available.  People needing disabled spots should put their request to Tony Overton as soon as possible and before 9th April- A5 letter “D”s will be made available at the Thursday rehearsal.  The A5 C’s and D’s should be placed in the car’s windscreen on the passenger side.  This enables the parking attendants who monitor arrivals at the church gates to let their colleagues in the church grounds know where arrivals should be directed.   PLEASE DRIVE AT  10 mph once past the church gates .

Security of personal possessions is a major concern.  Items have been stolen from the vestry over the last year.  It cannot be emphasised enough that you limit what you bring and leave unattended – at no time is the external door to be left unlocked.

If a Friend’s seat has been reserved and allocated to you, but subsequently on concert day circumstances determine that you are not able to attend please make Ron Gordon aware, 07745 290886, in order that seats can be released for general use.

Stewarding – it would be helpful if we had some new stewards join our ranks for the evening of the concert.  If anyone, possibly a new member,  has a partner who could help at the door, sell programmes and generally be on hand to assist make the evening go smoothly please let me know.  Ron Gordon 01494 862580.

Many hands make light work!!  If you can spare a few minutes after the concert to help return the church to its normal state- replacing books, kneelers, clearing discarded programmes, paper etc then please let Ron Gordon know.  All the heavy work is done by the Scouts so only light work required!!


Concert Dress

For this concert the Committee considered it most appropriate in view of the content for the choir to wear our traditional black ensembles:  men DJs and bow ties and ladies black tops (long or three quarter length sleeves), long black skirt or suitable evening black trousers.  We ask that jewellery is kept to a modest look, with no large or sparkling items that can distract under the lights.  Ladies will be provided with suitable corsages (and possibly the men, too, but only if this can be achieved without damage to DJs).



We welcome three new members who have joined the choir since January: Penny Holmes (alto), Ken Darvill and Jeremy Howard  (basses.) We wish them well and hope they enjoy being a part of GMCS.

Gwen Hill



We were sad to read recently of the death of our first Musical Director, Herta Grove, in Philadelphia January 26th, aged 98.

She was born in 1916 in Altona, near Hamburg, to a liberal orthodox Jewish family named Levi. Her father was a lawyer.  After Hitler came to power conditions gradually worsened for the Jews, and in a moving interview Herta gave to Israeli TV on her visit there aged 85 she described how her older brother and sister had felt compelled to leave Germany and she herself had to leave school at the age of 15, virtually forced out because she refused to greet her teachers with the obligatory “Heil Hitler!”  With the help of her Rabbi, however, she was able to continue her education in Berlin at a music establishment, her speciality being “A Capella” choral music. She became a proficient pianist, studying under Claudio Arrau, and taught the piano privately for three years.

Her father died in 1938, and the remaining family persuaded Herta to leave for England just three months before the outbreak of war.

She arrived nearly penniless and could only obtain a”Domestic Permit” for work, i.e. as a domestic servant.  She worked in Manchester, but again with the help of a Rabbi she managed to obtain a post  as a Music Teacher at a school near London, where she taught three days a week.  In the Autumn of 1948 she was given the opportunity by the Workers Educational Association to lecture in Great Missenden on Music Appreciation.  At the end of the course the 24 students were so enthusiastic they decided to form a Choir and asked Herta to be their conductor. This was a turning point in her life: as she said in the interview, “my great work”! They started with “Three Blind Mice” and folk songs, and progressed via Monteverdi to singing Schubert.

Herta met her husband in England and his work took them to Philadelphia, where they settled in 1954.  Herta had tapes of some of the GMCS concerts she had conducted and introduced them to a Philadelphia radio station.  They were later presented by her in New York, so our fame has spread!

GMCS had the pleasure of Herta’s company again when we invited her over for our  Diamond Jubilee concert in December 2008, followed by a celebration dinner in Missenden Abbey.  Herta was happy to meet old students Bob Gerhardi and Ceridwen Rose, among many others, and according to Sue Bottomley never stopped talking!

We trust she is enjoying celestial music and thank her most sincerely for giving us birth.

Tony Overton


A View from the Pew


The winter concert on 7th December 2013 was entitled ” The Crowning of the Year ”  and featured music by Handel, C.P.E. Bach, Benjamin Britten and Mozart. It was a commemoration of the year in which the Queen celebrated her accession to the throne 60 years ago, the new addition to the Royal Family, Prince George, and the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten.

This was not therefore the usual Christmas ‘ fayre’, and at first sight seemed an eclectic mix. I must admit to a fondness for Christmas music by the likes of Vaughan Williams, Saint-Saens, Finzi etc. at this time of the year, as distinct from the usual carols, lovely though they are. However there is no doubting there was much to celebrate in 2013, and we were treated to three delightful songs sung by the choir unaccompanied, which gave a nod to the forthcoming Christmas festivities.

The concert opened with a traditional French song “People look East”, the opening line of which really said it all – ‘People look east, the time is near of the crowning of the year’. Then, immediately after the interval two songs by Benjamin Britten, ‘A Hymn to the Virgin’ and ‘The Sycamore Tree’.  All three songs beautifully sung, demonstrating the quality of this choir.

Following the first song, choir and orchestra launched into Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’, a favourite of many notwithstanding, to some tastes, the seemingly interminable introduction, culminating in the first explosive ‘Zadok’ from the choir. For a work that has been performed so much by so many, expectations may well be raised: this performance passed muster with ease.

The final item of the first half was C. P. E. Bach’s version of the Magnificat. A worthy piece, well sung by the choir and soloists, however I confess to being a little unsure of its place in the mix – perhaps Prince George had a tiny hand in it !

At this halfway point a note on my ‘view’.  Having never in the past chosen a pew more than half a dozen rows from the ‘stage’, on this occasion I was about a dozen rows back, with two intervening pillars. Also noteworthy, the geography of the choir had changed, with sopranos moving to the back, changing places with the altos.  Referring to my notes during the first half, I seemed to have issues with the orchestra (rather loud, and were they empathizing with the music and the choir ?).

Post interval we were treated to Mozart’s Mass in C Major which over time has acquired the appellation “Coronation”, so an understandable fit for this program. My view was broadly similar to that in the Bach, although as this was Mozart the brass was somewhat more muted !

Overall therefore, a different sort of concert for the time of year, but I heed what is said regarding ‘variety’.  I must also continue to try the seating in different parts of the church at future concerts to see if there is a really sweet spot.  Should I find it, I will probably keep it to myself !                                                                                                            Lionel Largo


March 29th, 2014