September Newsletter 2018

Dear Fellow HCS members,

I hope you have all had a well-deserved and restorative summer break, enjoyed the amazing weather we have had, and are in good voice for the new term.

The last year has been an eventful and significant one for the choir.  After thirteen years at the helm, Chris conducted his last concert with us last Christmas.  Over those years he developed and encouraged us to become the choir we now are.  Under his baton, we successfully performed numerous concerts with ambitious and challenging works, including Bach’s St John Passion and Brahms’ German Requiem.  In all, a huge achievement and we are very grateful to Chris for all he did for us, as he knows from the sentiments expressed at the concert and at his subsequent leaving party.  We wish him a happy and productive retirement.

We have been very lucky that Chris has been succeeded by Janette Ruocco who, in our new rehearsal space at The London Road Church, has led us onward and upward.  The choir has warmed to her consummate musicality, encouragement and humour and has responded by working hard to produce the sound she is aiming for.  Our summer concert of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonellewas a triumph in many ways and I hope that it will be the first of many led by Janette.  We have also benefitted greatly by having a terrifically musical and witty accompanist, Karen Smith, and again, I hope that we have a long and happy time working with her.  We had gone a long way as a choir with Chris and I feel that with Janette and Karen we now have renewed energy and confidence and will go on to even greater heights.

As well as these big changes there have been others that I hope have improved the life of the choir.  Not least, as mentioned above, the new rehearsal venue, which is more comfortable than St John’s, but I am happy that we can continue to use St John’s for our concerts.  Our website has now been transformed by Paul Cope and includes a very useful members’ section, which will enable us to keep you all up to date with events and announcements.  There is a lot of information on the website about HCS, our concerts, previous and upcoming, photographs and clips from concert recordings.  I do hope you find it helpful.  Many thanks to Paul for his continuing sterling work on keeping the website flourishing.

Because we meet on Monday evenings, we tend to lose precious rehearsal time to Bank Holidays, especially in the summer term in the build-up to a concert so, in another change, we have now started to meet on those dates.  When we did this in May, most of the choir were able to attend and we had a very productive rehearsal, so we will continue to do this.  All the dates can be seen on the website.

We have also had a number of very enjoyable and successful social events during the year.  In March the Quiz evening was well attended, and great fun.  Many thanks to our question master, John Formston, and to all who helped to set up, and to produce the delicious food.  Joanna Barfield, our Membership Secretary organised a trip to St Andrew’s Hall in April to hear the UEA Choir sing the Petite Messe Solonelle, which was a great preparation for our own performance. The finger buffet after our own concert was a lovely occasion which enabled us to mingle with our audience and to enjoy their very positive reaction.  This meant a huge effort on the part of those organising, preparing and setting out the food, to whom many thanks, in particular to Julia, Margaret and Sheena, who went above and beyond.  Finally, the garden party held in Julia and John’s beautiful garden, in glorious weather, and with more delicious food.  Again, many thanks to all who contributed, and especially to Julia and John.

On to more prosaic matters.  Risk Assessments have been done on both the churches which we use and I thank Malcolm for all his work on this necessary legal requirement. Another is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which has caused a lot of confusion for many organisations. Jenny and John have produced the necessary documents, based on the very helpful information from the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) and Joanna has attended a course on GDPR, which has helped to clarify what we need to do to comply.  Our GDPR policy will be posted on the Members’ area of the website, and on Monday you will all receive an information document and a consent form to complete when you sign in for the new term.  All this is to ensure that the data which you have given us is safely protected.

Also on Monday you will receive papers, including ballot papers, for the upcoming AGM which will be held during the practice on Monday 24thSeptember.  Last year I said that I would be standing down as I will have been Chair for four years. Likewise Jenny anticipated standing down as Minutes and Publicity Secretary.  We have met and discussed the current situation with the rest of the Committee and have decided that, unless other choir members step up at the AGM to take on these roles, we could stay on for a further year in order to help the choir bed down with its new leadership.  Heather will be resigning from the Committee, though will still format and print our programmes, and design the posters and tickets, for which we are very grateful and thank her for all she has contributed and continues to do.

There will now be three Committee vacancies, one caused by Heather’s resignation, and two because under the Constitution we are allowed up to twelve members.  We hope to fill at least some of these vacancies at the AGM.  If you would like to stand but are unsure what is involved, please do come and ask me or any other Committee member and we’d be delighted to enlighten you.  It would be great to have new blood and fresh ideas.

I would like to give heartfelt thanks to my fellow Committee members: Jenny, Caroline, Malcolm, Heather, Joanna, Richard, Julia, John and Carol for their commitment, hard work, encouragement, enthusiasm and support.  In addition to the Committee, there are, of course, many other people who give their time and energy to HCS and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them all:  Sheena and Pat for organising musicians for our concerts; Margaret and her team for their ever-efficient front-of-house organisation; John, and Malcolm and their team of helpers, who erect and dismantle the staging; Julia in her role as Music Librarian, and for organising the famed musicians’ teas; Sheila for running the Bonus Ball; Fiona for organising the raffles; Lynda and Chris for doing refreshments during our breaks; and Nathaniel for being a supportive, encouraging Patron.

Sadly, Bryan Fisher has had to leave the choir because of ill health.  We will miss him and thank him for his wonderful contribution over the years.

Earlier in the year, a gratifying number of you responded very positively to the questionnaire I put out and made a number of suggestions which the Committee has taken on board.  So, with increased social occasions, the change in rehearsal venue and the improved website, we hope that you feel involved in what is happening. It is your choir and if you have any comments and/or suggestions, please do communicate them to me or one of the other Committee members.  We’d be particularly interested in ideas for recruiting new members and increasing our income.

I very much look forward to seeing you all again on Monday and to singing together.

Best wishes,