It’s over 3 weeks since my last post. Last week Robin and I were in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Lewes Singers were to have sung the services in the Cathedral over the Bank Holiday weekend, but of course that was cancelled nearly 2 months ago. But we had a holiday cottage booked for the week, so took it as our Summer holiday. While we were up there we visited Ripon Cathedral (obviously); Fountains Abbey, which is a vast but well preserved ruins of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1120. We spent a day in York, visiting the cathedral and having lunch in the Guy Fawkes InnRead More →

Many of you will know that I was born in Coventry and becoming a chorister at the cathedral there set me up to become the musician that I am. Before then, I remember having aspirations to become a fireman, but after a year of two as a chorister, all that was forgotten and all I wanted was to become a cathedral organist. I lived in Coventry until I went to university, and apart from returning for holidays as a student, I’ve only been back a handful of times in the last 40 years; my parents even moved away when they retired. Coventry has over thoseRead More →

I know I did a post earlier today, so I hope you don’t mind me doing an update on how I’m reacting to the current buzz of discussion about the future of choirs post Covid19, and to reassure you that I’m thinking of all my choir members and what our shared future might be. First: thanks to a number of people who made me aware of this work going on: Sing into the funnel please: inside the Covid-19 lab hoping to declare singing safe https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/22/sing-funnel-covid-19-lab-hoping-declare-singing-safe Second: York University are doing some research relevant to choirs;  “The University of York is researching the impact of COVID-19 on choirRead More →

On Thursday 19 March, 108 days ago, Robin and I sat down to a game of Scrabble and decided we would do a ‘lockdown challenge’. Since then we’ve played each evening and thus consumed a lot of wine and too many accompanying crisps and ‘snacks’. Robin pulled quickly ahead, which I think is as it should be – her being a bit of a wordsmith an’ all. But soon we evened up and it’s been neck and neck since. So it seemed appropriate to call a halt yesterday, Saturday 4th July ‘Independence from lockdown Day’ with Robin winning the final game making it 54/54. That’sRead More →

Firstly, the dahlias have started blooming.   This was taken yesterday by Robin (I can’t do classy photos with out-of-focus-backgrounds like this on my phone). And today the rain looks well set in, but I’ve been out and many more blooms will be out shortly. I really haven’t put a great deal of effort into keeping the slugs and snails away, so I feel very fortunate that there has been minimal damage so far – touch wood. Good news seems to be on the horizon. Boris says we can re-start church services, but I’m still waiting to hear whether anyone at the Church of EnglandRead More →

This week I decided to take some action on the future for my choirs. As my name is not Boris Johnson I was limited in my scope. I sent out a One-question survey to the East Sussex Community Choir (100 members); Lewes Chamber Choir (31 members) and Brighton Singers (32 members). Assuming it is within Government guidelines for Choirs to meet again in September, and assuming we meet as we normally do in Lewes, please say how likely you are to return to (named) Choir in September 2020. On a scale of 1-4, 1 being least likely, 4 being most likely, how do you stand?Read More →

Richard Morrison wrote an excellent article in The Times on 4 June which draws attention very well to the situation facing 2 million choristers in British Choirs. This is the first and only article I’ve come across – so far, but I know that many choirs have linked to this article on their web and facebook pages and it’s prompted a lot of positive discussion about the future for choirs. Last week, friend and local singer Judy Mackerras, drew my attention to some work being done by Jackie Cassell (singer, epidemiologist and Deputy Director of the Brighton & Sussex Medical School) who is researching how andRead More →

  Hi everyone. I thought I would share with you my personal enjoyment of the service of Evensong. By no means all of you will be Christian, indeed I’m careful to keep my own beliefs to myself. As a chorister at Coventry Cathedral 50 years ago, we were drilled to perform as professionals, and that’s been my approach ever since. We sang evensong on Saturday and Sunday evenings, and I’ve always enjoyed the music and the almost spiritual peace and quiet of this service. This is a photo of us, probably around 1968, seated in front of the Chapter House of the cathedral. I loveRead More →

Today, Sunday 29 March, I would normally be at St Michael’s in Lewes by now, preparing to play for the 10.30 Mass. Also today, the Brighton Singers (I’m the MD) were going to perform at St Nicholas Brighton (just up from the clock tower on North Street). The programme was the Duruflé: Requiem with Andrew Robinson (baritone) and Briony Lambert (mezzo-sop) and my London-based friend, Iestyn Evans playing the very challenging organ accompaniment. That’s a wonderful piece based on the Gregorian chants for the Missa pro defunctis or Mass of the dead. A lot of the vocal lines in Duruflé’s setting are lifted directly fromRead More →