SPRING EVENT AND AGM 28th MAY 2016
It was a great pleasure to return to The Charterhouse, London, for our Spring Event and AGM. The former Carthusian monastery, now a home for elderly gentlemen (called Brothers), provided a perfect setting for the occasion. The programme followed a well-established pattern: welcoming drinks in the Old Library where we were most warmly greeted by Brother Grayston Burgess, CTCC Treasurer and Membership Secretary, then an excellent lunch in the atmospheric surroundings of the Cloister, a recital by a guest choir, a talk on a musical theme, and, finally, the AGM in the Great Chamber.
The recital, given by the renowned Tiffin Boys Choir under their Musical Director, James Day, was a delight. The choir sang six items covering works from William Byrds Agnus Dei (Mass for Four Voices) to extracts from Brittens A Ceremony of Carols. Between the pieces we heard some excellent solos/duets including a moving rendition of The Turtle Dove arranged by Vaughan Williams for treble voice; Du bist die Ruh by Schubert performed with expressive phrasing by a young countertenor; Chanson du Pecheur by Faure, sung with great maturity by a VIth form bass. The impeccable accompanist was Matthew OMalley, Director of Music at Tiffin. Although not on the printed programme, we thoroughly enjoyed three pieces by The Tiffinians, a close harmony sextet not unlike the renowned Kings Singers (indeed, three Tiffinians had won choral scholarships to Durham and Oxbridge). One of the pieces was an arrangement of the Beatles song, Yesterday performed with great sensitivity and expression. This sextet received a particularly enthusiastic ovation from the audience.
During the interval James Day gave a brief history of the choir which was formed in 1957 under the dynamic guidance of John Walker, ex-Kings Cambridge (rehearsals were taken with a pint of beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other). The choir has supplied many of the great university colleges with choral scholars over the years, including a steady stream of altos (certainly not a dying breed!). The boys sang at the Royal Opera House recently for performances of Tosca. Further events this year include Mahler 3 with the LPO at the Proms and a concert tour of Milan. Mr Day explained that music at Tiffin School, a state grammar school in Kingston upon Thames, had a high profile with the majority of the 1200 boys playing a musical instrument. He was therefore delighted and very grateful to receive a cheque from the CTCC for the continued development of music within the school; the presentation, with many thanks for the recital, was made by our Chairman, Dr Peter Giles.
The recital was followed by tea and cakes after which we listened attentively to musicologist and organ-restorer Mr Martin Renshaws fascinating illustrated lecture entitled From Boat-boy to Cardinal: how boys became singer-musicians in the early 16th century. In fact the lecture covered a wide range of musical development from the 12th century to the pre Reformation. One aspect that interested me in particular was how church architecture was affected by the requirements of the liturgy. The afternoon concluded with the AGM.
Members will agree that we had experienced an excellent and stimulating time in the most beautiful of surroundings. I must just add that just after lunch I wandered into the tranquillity of the monastery garden and heard, wafting from The Great Chamber, two trebles rehearsing Laudamus te. Magic!
The Spring Event could not happen without much detailed preparation. Many thanks are due to the Master, the Brothers and the excellent catering staff of Charterhouse for making us so welcome. Miss Lynda Collins did sterling work as the Events Organiser, ably assisted by Mrs Anne Dover, our Secretary, and Dr Peter Giles.
SUMMER EVENT AND AGM - 13TH JUNE 2015
This year the Summer Event and Annual General Meeting saw us returning to the magnificent surroundings of The Charterhouse in London, a place of leafy quiet and seclusion in the middle of the City and one of the jewels of London. It was established originally as a Carthusian monastery in 1371.
At the outset, members and visitors assembled in the Old Library for pre-lunch drinks followed by a splendid hot buffet meal in the Cloister before we made our way to the Great Chamber. Here we were privileged to have a concert by the Choristers of the famous Temple Church Choir with their Director of Music, Roger Sayer and accompanied at the piano by the newly-appointed Organ Scholar, George Inscoe.
The programme began with a treble version of The Call from Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, followed by Pie Jesu from Faure's Requiem, both beautifully sung. In recent years the Choristers have recorded music by Benjamin Britten and been involved with his music at the Proms and at Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh, so it was a great joy to hear them sing the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei from his Missa Brevis simply glorious in all respects.
This was followed with Geoffrey Burgon's Nunc Dimittis, which became well-known in the TV mini-series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Then to close we heard four wonderful and well-loved songs from The Insect World, by Rodney Richard Bennett. Under their outstanding and inspiring conductor, Roger Sayer, the choristers fully lived up to their enviable reputation and the several soloists acquitted themselves with distinction. Mention must also be made of George Inscoe's impeccable accompaniment on his debut with the choristers.
The rapturous applause from the audience at the end was fully deserved and showed how much the concert had been enjoyed. The Chairman, Dr Peter Giles, gave a vote of thanks to the musicians and handed a cheque to Mr Sayer on behalf of CTCC as a donation to the choir funds. Mr Sayer, who had spoken so informatively when introducing each piece of music, responded most graciously.
The AGM followed and after a short break for tea and cake we had a most illuminating tour of the interior of Charterhouse led by Brother Philip Bacon from the Resident Community. His vast knowledge of his subject and excellent delivery made this one of the best guided tours that I have been on and was greatly appreciated by everyone present.
CTCC has had many very enjoyable events over the years and this one can quite easily be said to have been one of the best. Many thanks are due to everyone who contributed to the success of the day not least the organiser of the event, Miss Lynda Collins, and it was pleasing to see that it was so very well attended.
I look forward to next year's event. David Watson