HARLESTON CHORAL SOCIETY
OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Held on Monday 23 September 2019 at 8.45 pm in The Church at London Road, Harleston
Jo (Chair) welcomed Janette (Musical Director), Karen (Accompanist),
Nathaniel Gee (Patron) and choir members, and declared the meeting open.
1. Apologies for
Received from Joanna Barfield, Heather and Malcolm Butcher, Tom Crisp
and Caroline Rodbourne.
2. Minutes of the last
AGM (24 September 2018)
On the proposal of Peter Heard, seconded by John Awty, the Minutes were approved and signed by the Chair
3. Report by Musical Director
Rather unusually, I am going to begin my report by looking to the future with our current season before I look back at the achievements of 2018-19.
The concert on December 14th combines seasonal choral music with some Christmas carols for choir and audience; the string accompaniment will be provided by The Dargason Ensemble. The main works will be Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell and Bob Chilcott’s Twelve Days of Christmas. The concert on June 20th 2020 is a collection of some lighter repertoire, John Rutter’s collection of spirituals Feel the Spirit and Bob Chilcott’s Songs and Cries of London Town. The concert will be accompanied by a piano duet and we plan to include a local children’s choir to sing with us in the Chilcott piece and to present some of their own items.
Both of these concerts will take us into what will be, for most of you,
new choral singing territory. I very
much hope that you will grow to love, enjoy and understand these pieces – they
are yet another part of our choral journey together as a choir, and they will
lay more blocks in the firm foundation for our future development.
The major works in our first concert of the 2018-19 season included the
first part of Handel’s Messiah and Telemann’sMagnificat. The Dargason Ensemble accompanied us – with
the modest forces of a string quartet, two oboes and Karen on the keyboard (who
conjured some excellent harpsichord and organ sounds from our rehearsal
piano). Our professional soloists for
the evening were Beverley Lockyer, Christine Petch, Mitesh Khatri and Gary
Griffiths. We included two audience
carols, the world premiere of my carol, That blessed babe complete with
solos from Sue Foster and John Layton.
When you step back and look at the range of musical styles in that
single concert it was an audacious selection. But I had every confidence that
you could all pull it off. On the day
you all came together musically, and you gave exciting and stylistically
appropriate performances in each genre.
If we all thought that moving in June to a programme of music by one 17th
century composer would maybe simpler than the December programme that covered
from the 18th to the 21st centuries, then we could not
have been more wrong ! Yes, all of the
works were by Henry Purcell, but the genres included an a cappella anthem,
three accompanied verse anthems and an opera, in which the chorus was required
to sing in different accents to depict courtiers, sailors, witches . . . the
list goes on. There were musical and
vocal challenges galore, but everyone worked very hard in rehearsals and at
home so that, in the end, we gave memorable performances of all the pieces.
The Dargason Ensemble accompanied us with the modest forces of a string quartet and Karen on the keyboard. The strings played what is possibly the most famous of all Purcell’s works for strings, the Chaconne in G minor. Our professional soloists for the evening were Carole Bowerman (Dido), Gary Griffiths (Aeneas), Christine Petch (Sorceress), Beverley Lockyer (Belinda), Jo Westaway (Second Woman), Tracey Rayner (First Witch), Shirley Smith (Second Witch) and Mitesh Khatri (Sailor). We also had our own semi-chorus from the choir who sung the Echo Chorus – Sue Foster, Julia Awty, Tom Crisp and John Awty. I was delighted at how well the evening went musically and very proud of your achievements.
At last year’s AGM I said that learning your names would be an ongoing process for at least the rest of the 2018-019 season. I still have some way to go on the name learning front, so maybe the end of 2019-20 would have been more realistic?
Our Monday night rehearsals have continued to be great fun, even if we are all, at times taken outside of our own individual comfort zones. That said, you have all worked extremely hard to learn complicated new repertoire, which some of you admitted was ‘not your cup of tea’. I have enjoyed going on that journey with you and felt that, by the time that we got to the concert, we all finally understood what we were meant to be doing!
During the entire 2018-19 seasons it’s been a pleasure to be working
with all of you and with our excellent accompanist, Karen Smith, and I am
really looking forward to this season’s concerts and to those that will follow
in the years to come.
Finally, I would like to thank Jo Curry for her excellent chairmanship
of the choir. As most of you are not
members of the committee you will not be aware how skilfully she has undertaken
that role, how supportive she has been of me as the group’s new musical
director or how empowering she has been of others. Thanks, Jo, you’ve done a great deal to
support the choir’s continuing musical journey and I hope that you will enjoy
being able to focus just on the music and your singing in the future.
4. Chair’s Report
I would like to thank Janette for her kind words and say how lucky we
are to have her as our Musical Director. We have had a very successful year
under her baton, starting with our Christmas concert, one of the highlights of
which was ‘That Blessed Babe’, a carol specially composed for us by Janette and
which I hope we shall get another opportunity to sing. Our concert in the
summer, ‘An Evening with Henry Purcell’ was challenging, but with Janette’s
sure leadership it was a terrific evening with many comments from the audience
that it was our best concert yet. So, many thanks to Janette for continuing to
be inspirational and energising; and also to Karen for expert and humorous
As well as our concerts and the really enjoyable Monday evening
practices, we have continued to put on social and fundraising events, as
members requested in the survey we did the year before last. Our Quiz evening
at St James was very well attended, great fun and raised a good amount more
than in the previous year. In July we had a delightful garden party at Julia
and John Awty’s lovely home – many thanks to them for hosting us again, to
Stella and Fiona for devising the quiz, and to all who helped.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who work
behind the scenes to make the choir the well run, welcoming and thriving
organisation that it is. The Committee has changed during the year and I would
like to thank Heather, who though she stood down last year has continued to
print the programme, and design the posters and tickets, for which we are very
grateful; also Richard, who has now moved away from Harleston but who was an
invaluable support in his time with us. Thank you, Sheena and Pat, for helping
organise the musicians; Margaret and her team for the ever-efficient front of
house; John, Malcolm and the team of helpers who erect and dismantle the
staging; Julia for her role as Librarian and for producing delicious food for the
musicians’ teas, Joanna for being a welcoming Membership Secretary, Paul for
managing the website; Sheila and Carol for doing the Bonus Ball; Fiona for
running the raffles; Lynda and Chris for providing refreshments during our
breaks. There will be others and do forgive me if I have missed you out, but
the biggest thanks this year must go to Jenny who is standing down after five
years of being the most efficient, untiring Publicity and Minutes Secretary. I
could not have managed my role without her huge help and encouragement.
I would also like to thank Malcolm, our Treasurer, who is not here this
evening but who has provided us with the audited accounts, of which you should
all have a copy. We were unfortunate in not getting the grant that we applied
for from the Garfield Weston Foundation, but other avenues are being explored.
Thanks to some generous donations we are in a reasonably healthy state to move
into the next year.
Finally, I would like to thank Nathaniel for continuing to be our Patron and for making a generous donation to our funds. He will be speaking to you next but before that, I would like to say how much I have valued and learned these past five years of chairing the choir. It has at times been challenging as well as a privilege and I wish the next Chair, Stella, all the very best in her new role.
5. Report by HCS Patron
Nathaniel said what a privilege it has been to be HCS’s Patron, and to
continue to support the choir which Anne Gee (Nathaniel’s mother) founded
nearly twenty years ago. He hoped to be
able to pass on soon a donation from Tommy (Gee) – which Nathaniel said would
have to be ‘soon’, given that Tommy is now 94 !
Nathaniel expressed his thanks to all those choir members who work so
hard behind the scenes, especially to Jo and to Jenny for the last few years
and for stepping up to take on one more year at the 2018 AGM. He also congratulated Janette on her truly
inspirational leadership. Finally, Nathaniel said that he hopes to sing with
HCS in the Christmas concert 2019, for which he has the music, and to support
the dwindling number of Basses in the choir.
6. Treasurer’s Report
During the year we produced two very good concerts and on both
occasions we sold over £1000 worth of tickets.
However, as always, the expenditure relating to concerts is always much
greater than the income and this year the excess of expenditure to income was
just under £3000.
Because the average choir numbers were greater than the previous year
the income from subscriptions was up by £1420 which was very encouraging. At the end of the year though the numbers
were down to 47 whereas we had started the year with 59. Let us hope that the numbers come up again
for the new choir year. Because of
increased subscriptions we were able to claim back an increased sum from gift
aid. We had a very successful quiz
evening in March where we made a surplus of £530 and sales of CDs and weekly
refreshments and bonus ball income was higher because more people attended
choir practices. During the year we applied
for a grant from Garfield Weston, but regrettably we were unsuccessful. We haven’t given up looking for external
funding though and maybe we will be luckier in the future.
The closing cash balance this year is £5917. This has gone up from the previous year by
£1500 and this is mainly due to a very welcome donation from our Patron,
Nathaniel Gee, and additional gift aid that was applied for on his behalf. The projection for the next twelve months is
a further shortfall of over £2000, unless we can increase the numbers of
However difficult it sometimes is to maintain a positive cash position
it is always good to come to rehearsals and have a good sing and to meet up
with each other and enjoy the music we are learning, and it isn’t always just
about concerts, although we have had some good ones and I am sure we will
continue to enjoy them.
On the proposal of Carol Hammond, seconded by Julia Awty, the Treasurer’s Report was approved.
The audited accounts for the year ended 31 August 2019, Income &
Expenditure for the years ended 31 August 2018 and 2019, the Cash Budget 1
September 2018 – 31August 2020, and the Cash Forecast 1 September 2018 – 31
August 2020 will be filed with the Minutes.
Any queries should be directed to Malcolm Butcher on his return to choir
on 7 October.
7. Re-Appointment of Auditor
On the proposal of John Awty, seconded by Peter Heard, Robin Farrar was re-appointed as Auditor.
of Harleston Choral Society
Carol Hammond reminded choir members that HCS Friends have supported
HCS loyally for the best part of twenty years.
The Committee is currently investigating the possibility of recruiting
new Friends and perhaps making changes to the terms of membership, in order to
reflect our increasing costs. Carol said
that it is her hope that new Friends will join the scheme and continue to grow
with HCS. She concluded by saying that
she would like to take this opportunity to record HCS’s thanks to HCS Friends
for the sustained warmth of their generosity and lively interest in the choir
over many years.
9. Election of
Committee members for the year 2019/20
Jo explained that she, Jenny Hyams and Carol Hammond are resigning from
the Committee, and that there are therefore four vacancies to be filled on the
Committee caused by these resignations and by one historically unfilled
vacancy. As from [this] AGM Stella
Brownsea will replace Jo as Chair; Kate Peacher will replace Jenny as Publicity
Secretary and may be responsible for the compilation of the concert programmes;
John Layton will be a Committee member.
John Formston has indicated that he is willing to stand as a Committee
member; and Sue Foster has agreed to stand as Minutes Secretary, thus bringing
the total number of Committee members to ten.
Joanna Barfield (Membership Secretary) was elected for three years at
the 2016 AGM and therefore seeks re-election.
Therefore, on the proposal of Carol Hammond, seconded by John Layton, John Formston and Sue Foster were elected to the Committee.
And, on the proposal of Sue Foster, seconded by John Awty, Joanna Barfield was re-elected to the Committee.
Fiona Bartlett pointed out that although she is not a Committee Member,
she is taking on the role of Friends Co-ordinator. Jo and Jenny apologised for omitting Fiona
from the new appointments and thanked her very much for taking on this role.
Julia Awty, on behalf of the choir, thanked Jo and Jenny for all their
hard work and commitment to HCS over the last five+ years, and the choir
presented them with bouquets of beautiful flowers and a bottle each of Adnams
pink fizz, which rendered them both speechless . . .
11. Date of next
AGM: Monday 28 September 2020