Author: Paul Cope

Report of the Committee Meeting held on Thursday 24 January 2019 at 7.00 pm at The Dell, Billingford

                                    HARLESTON CHORAL SOCIETY

Printable pdf file of meeting report January 2019 available here

Report of the Committee Meeting held on Thursday 24 January 2019 at 7.00 pm at The Dell, Billingford

Present: John Awty, Julia Awty, Joanna Barfield, Malcolm Butcher, Jo Curry, Carol Hammond, Jenny Hyams, Caroline Rodbourne

In attendance: Janette Ruocco

Choir member observers: Stella Brownsea, John Layton – welcomed by Jo

  1. Apologies for Absence – none
  2. Minutes of the last meeting (Thursday 20 September 2018)

Confirmed and signed as a correct record, subject to amendments to two typos.

  1. Matters arising

Data Protection: Joanna reported that all consent forms have now been returned.

  1. Committee resignations and [currently four]vacancies and implications thereof

It was noted that Jo, Jenny and Carol intend to resign from the Committee with effect from the 2019 AGM; and that Malcolm will only be available as Treasurer on a part-time basis from May 2019, for probably a year.

A wide-ranging discussion followed on how to deal with the pending vacancies, and their implications, and the following action was agreed:

  • EGM to be held on Monday 25 February, during choir practice, to make all choir members aware of the pending Committee resignations and the implications of a no-Chair scenario
  • Caroline will take on the day-to-day Treasurer’s responsibilities (cheques, banking, subs), as from May
  • Malcolm will continue to act as Treasurer with responsibility for the annual accounts and his report to the AGM
  • job descriptions for all Committee posts to be posted on the Members’ area of the website, once firmed up
  • programme, posters and tickets: as Heather Butcher will not be available from May to design posters and tickets, and to print the programme, a meeting will be arranged between Heather, Malcolm and Jenny to discuss alternative arrangements
  • keyboard and keys to the church: Richard Thomas has now resigned from the Committee. Jo will therefore appeal to choir members at choir practice on 28th for regular help with moving and setting up the keyboard prior to choir practices

Finally, it was noted that the choir could, in a worst case scenario, continue to function without charitable status. 

  1. Treasurer

(i)         current state of finances: Malcolm distributed copies of the Income & Expenditure report for the year ended 31 August 2019, and reported that because of the increased number of choir members and therefore of subs, and of income from Gift Aid, the choir’s finances are now in a healthier state. He drew attention to his Cash Forecast 1st September 2018 – 31st August 2020 and pointed out that mainly because of cheaper concerts, he anticipates that income and expenditure will break even by the end of the next [choir] year.

(ii)        funding application: the text has nearly been completed but the financial sections will require input from Malcolm

(iii)       Helen Lunnon’s offer re merchandise:  it was agreed to go ahead with Helen Lunnon’s offer to get tote bags with the HCS logo, and/or pencils and rubbers, to raise income for the choir. The tote bags would cost £2.21 each per 100 ordered; if sold to choir members for £4.00 each, there would be a potential return of £179.00.

  1. Christmas Concert, 8 December 2018

Janette congratulated the choir on a very successful concert, which had required a lot of hard work, and the Telemann was not easy. Jo reported on the positive feedback from the choir and audience, and especial thanks were expressed to Janette and to Karen, both of whose post-concert letters to the choir were much appreciated. There were however a few reservations expressed about the Soprano and Bass soloists, and their and the Ensemble’s lack of engagement with the choir, which Janette agreed to address.

  1. Summer Concert, 22 June 2019

Janette said that she is inviting two more soloists to take the parts of the Two Witches in Dido and Aeneas, who may well bring their own audience with them. Julia said that because of the increase in the number of choir members, she has ordered more scores from Norfolk Music Library, with whom it is important to maintain links.

  1. Christmas Concert, Saturday 14 December 2019

Janette explained that she has been having second thoughts about the content of this concert, and would like replace it by bringing forward her plans for the Christmas Concert, 5 December 2020, The First Nowell, with Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell in the first half of the programme. This will require soprano and baritone soloists, strings and a keyboard.

  1. Acapella Concert

Janette reported that an Octet from Braintree Choral Society has recently given an acapella concert and raised £500.00. She wondered whether this might be something that HCS might think about. It could be a social occasion as well as a concert, and could be held on a Sunday afternoon, possibly with tea and cake.

  1. Website

The handover from Jenny to Joanna is now complete. Joanna outlined what she and Paul Cope (Website Manager) will be doing to keep the website up to date, and the plans which they have, including more clips from recent concerts. She will also put choir practice content on to the Members’ area on a weekly basis, so that absentees can catch up. 

  1. Quiz Evening, Saturday 30 March, St James Village Hall

A sub-committee was formed, to deal with the arrangements.

  1. Dates of next meetings

Monday 25 February: EGM, during choir practice

Wednesday 6 March, 4.00 pm: Quiz Evening sub-committee meeting

Thursday 7 March, 2.30 pm: Committee Meeting

Saturday 30 March, 7.00 pm: Quiz Evening, St James Village Hall

Saturday 13 July: choir summer garden party

Monday 23 September: AGM, during choir practice

  1. AOB

(i)         Sending out urgent phone messages to choir members:  arrangements were made for five Committee members to act as phone callers in the event of choir practice having to be cancelled because of eg the weather.

(ii)        Heating in London Road church: Jo to ask the caretaker if he could put the heaters on in the main room before 7.00 pm, to give the room time to heat up adequately during very cold weather.

(iii)       New choir members: Stella pointed out how difficult it is for new choir members to know everyone’s names and suggested some form of ID for all choir members.  The Committe agreed to ask Helen Lunnon if this is something which she might be able to help with, eg name badges/brooches; and it was further agreed that voice part leaders should be formalised, so that all choir members know who to approach when necessary.  A display of choir mug-shots was also suggested.

































Practice Schedule


Purcell Anthology p. 22-23 Thou knowest Lord
                             p.18-21  Remember not Lord
                             p. 11-14 I was glad
                             p. 68-70 O sing unto the Lord
                             p. 75-77 Ditto


Purcell Anthology – p5 – 11 I was glad


D and A – p. 30-31 Harm’s our delight
p 32-33 Ho ho ho
p 35-36 Ho ho ho
p 39 In our deep vaulted cell
p 10-12 I was glad


Dido and Aeneas – page 11 When monarchs unite
p15 Fear no danger to ensue
p 45 Thank to these lonesome vales
p 52 Haste, haste to town
p 61Come away fellow sailors
p 76 Great minds against themselves conspire
p 81 With drooping wings


Purcell Anthology – Revise p.22/23 and p.91
Dido and Aeneas – p.11 When monarchs unite
                             – p.15/16 Fear no danger
                             – p.76/77 Great minds
                             – p.61-63 Come away – revise
                             – p.81-84  With drooping wings – revise


Purcell Anthology – p.22 Revise Thou knowest, Lord
                             – p.91only  Rejoice in the Lord alway
 NB Sops and altos sing countertenor part
Dido and Aeneas – p.76 and77
                             – p.81 – 84 NB be very soft on the word             soft!
                             – p.61-63 Revise


Purcell Anthology – p.22 Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts
Dido and Aeneas – p.61 Come away, fellow sailors
NB Sung in West Country accent! So emphasising the letter ‘r’ and missing ‘g’ off words ending in -ing.

Dido and Aeneas Programme Notes

Dido and Aeneas


Act One

Scene: The Palace

Dido, Queen of Carthage (also called Elissa), is discovered in sorrowful mood, surrounded by her court and attended by her lady-in-waiting, Belinda. Belinda soon diagnoses that it is the presence of Aeneas, Dido’s princely Trojan guest, which is at the root of the queen’s unhappiness. The chorus of courtiers support Belinda’s suggestion that a marriage between the two monarchs would solve Carthage’s problems, and that Aeneas is in any case as much in love as Dido. Aeneas enters with his train. Dido receives him coolly, but Belinda and the courtiers support his suit. The scene ends with a dance of triumph as Dido’s acceptance of Aeneas is celebrated by the whole court.

1 Shake the clouds from off your brow Belinda

2 Banish sorrow, banish care Chorus

3 Ah! Belinda, I am pressed with torment Dido

4 Grief increases by concealing Belinda, Dido

5 When monarchs unite, how happy their state Chorus

6 Whence could so much virtue spring? Dido, Belinda

7 Fear no danger to ensue Belinda, Second Woman, Chorus

8 See, your Royal guest appears Belinda, Aeneas, Dido

9 Cupid only throws the dart Chorus

10 If not for mine, the empire’s sake Aeneas, Belinda

11 To the hills and the vales Chorus

12 The Triumphing Dance

Act Two

Scene 1: The Cave

The scene changes to a cave in which lives the evil Sorceress. She invokes her wicked companions to join her in plotting the destruction of Dido and of Carthage. For a little extra mischief, they plan to conjure a storm to spoil the hunting expedition of the court. The whole scene, with its mocking choral laughter, its references (in the strings) to the horn calls of the hunt in progress, and its echo chorus and dance, illustrate the insidious beauty which can attend the course of evil as surely as that of good.

13 Wayward sisters, you that fright Sorceress, First Witch

    Harm’s our delight Chorus

14 The Queen of Carthage, whom we hate Sorceress

    Ho ho ho! Chorus

15 Ruined ere the set of sun? First and Second Witch, Sorceress

    Ho ho ho! Chorus

16 But ere we this perform First and Second Witch

17 In our deep vaulted cell Chorus in the manner of an echo

18 Echo Dance of Furies

Act Two

Scene 2: The Grove

Dido, Aeneas and their entourage pause in the grove during their hunting expedition. Belinda and the courtiers sing of the sylvan beauty of the grove. The Second Woman reminds them that the virgin goddess Diana frequents this place. It was here that the hunter Actaeon met his fate, torn apart by his own hounds after glimpsing the naked goddess bathing. The idyll is interrupted by distant thunder, and Belinda warns everyone to hurry back to town to seek shelter from the approaching storm.  Aeneas alone is stopped by the appearance of Mercury – in reality, the Sorceress’s ‘trusty elf’ in disguise. The false spirit reminds Aeneas of Jove’s command that he must found a new Troy in Italy. Aeneas is left to reconcile himself to fulfilling the gods’ commands and abandoning Dido, a task, he says, more difficult than death.

19 Ritornelle

20 Thanks to these lonesome vales Belinda, Chorus

21 Oft she visits this lone mountain Second Woman

22 Behold, upon my bending spear Aeneas, Dido

23 Haste, haste to town Belinda, Chorus

24 Stay, Prince, and hear great Jove’s command Spirit, Aeneas

Act Three

Scene 1: The Harbour at Carthage

All is prepared for the departure of Aeneas and the Trojan fleet. A sailor urges his companions to a drunken and cynical leave-taking of their Carthaginian girlfriends. The Sorceress and her supernatural band celebrate the success of their plot.

25 Come away, fellow sailors A Sailor, Chorus

26 The Sailors’ Dance

27 See the flags and streamers curling Sorceress, First & Second Witch

28 Our next motion Sorceress

29 Destruction’s our delight Chorus

30 The Witches’ Dance

Act Three

Scene 2

Dido is full of foreboding, and Aeneas’ appearance confirms her worst fears. She taunts his attempts at explanation and when he announces his determination to flout the gods and stay with her, she will have none of a lover who had once thought of leaving her. It is not until his departure that she admits that ‘death must come when he is gone’. The chorus prepares the way for Dido’s great farewell to life: the aria ‘When I am laid in earth’, one of the greatest moments in all opera. “Remember me,” sings the Queen, “but ah! forget my fate”. A chorus of mourning Cupids sing of scattering roses on the tomb of the tender-hearted queen, providing a uniquely beautiful ending to Purcell’s opera.  

31 Your counsel all is urged in vain Dido, Belinda, Aeneas

32 Great minds against themselves conspire Chorus

33 Thy hand, Belinda; darkness shades me Dido

34 When I am laid in earth Dido

35 With drooping wings Chorus


Christmas Newsletter

Dear Fellow Choir Members,

I hope you have had a good Christmas and New Year break and are in good voice and raring to sing when we all meet up next Monday.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to singing the Purcell programme.

I do want to thank you all for your part in making our Christmas concert such a success.  I think many of us were a bit worried that we wouldn’t get on top of the Telemann but we did and the whole event was very enjoyable.  I got lots of lovely feedback from members of the audience, including a very enthusiastic Nigel, the Vicar, and his Deacon, Lucy. Tommy Gee (our founder’s husband and our Patron’s father) was most complimentary too.  Janette recorded the concert and CD’s will be available soon for you to purchase as a souvenir of a wonderful occasion.

Extra special thanks to Janette for her encouragement and expertise.  She has lifted us to a further level and the fact that we have increased numbers and lots of people say how much they enjoy working with her is testament to how much she has brought to the choir.  Thanks also to Karen, whose musicality, humour and rapport with Janette have been so vital to our progress. Long may their partnership with us continue.

I would also like to thank Richard Thomas, who is stepping down from the Committee for personal reasons, for all his generous and substantial support.  I am hoping he will still be able to sing with us but we will very much miss him on the Committee.

This does mean that we now have four vacancies on the Committee and it would be lovely if some of you feel that you might be able contribute by joining us.  I will be stepping down as Chair and Jenny Hyams as Minutes and Publicity Secretary at the next AGM in September so we do need to find replacements for our roles in the interim, the sooner the better so we can pass on our experience and knowledge of how it all works.  As I hope you are aware, the choir cannot continue to exist without a Chair. I have really enjoyed my five years in the role and am very grateful to Brian and Pat, our previous Chair and Secretary, who were so helpful to me and continue to be stalwart members of the choir.  However I do feel that, as with any organisation, change is necessary for healthy continuation and now that Janette is firmly established as our dynamic Conductor, it is time to pass the baton on.

Finally, and with great sadness, I have to tell you of the death of Ruth Cawcutt’s husband Peter after a long illness.  Ruth has been with the choir almost since the beginning and is the mainstay of the Sopranos and she will return and sing with us when she feels ready.  In the meantime, Peter’s funeral will be on the 25th January at 12.30 at Mendham Church.  I will be there and I am sure many of you will want to go and support Ruth then.

Happy New Year to you all and see you on the 7th.

All the very best,




Programme Notes for the Christmas Concert by Janette Ruocco

Christmas Concert  – 8 December 2018 Programme Notes    – Janette Ruocco

Messiah [part 1] Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

In July 1741 Handel’s librettist, Charles Jennens wrote that “Handel says he will do nothing next Winter, but I hope I shall persuade him to set another Scripture collection I have made for him….The subject is Messiah.” Jennens selected texts from the authorised version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer and he skilfully combined them to illustrate the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah related in the Gospels.

Although we are only performing Part I of Messiah this evening, readers may appreciate a reminder of the context of three parts that comprise Handel’s setting: Part I Christ’s Coming, Part II Christ’s Passion, Part III Christ’s Resurrection. Handel completed the first draft of Messiah in 24 days, and when it was first performed in Dublin on April 13th 1742 it was very well received. It was quickly taken up by various music societies across the country and its popularity soon eclipsed Handel’s other oratorios.

One historical commentator has described Messiah as a quasi-national institution, citing large-scale performances with choirs of 4000 in the 19th century as providing ‘a convenient mouthpiece for the Victorian doctrines of progress and social amelioration.’

1 Sinfonia

2 Accompagnato: (tenor) Isaiah 40 vv1-3

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

3 Air: (tenor) Isaiah 40 v4

Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill be made low: the crooked straight and the rough places plain:

4 Chorus: Isaiah 40 v5

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

5 Accompagnato: (bass) Haggai 2 vv6-7

Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: yet once, a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea, and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.

Malachi 3 v1

The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

6 Air: (alto) Malachi 3 v2

But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire.

7 Chorus: Malachi 3 v

And he shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord, an offering of righteousness.

8 Recitative: (alto) Isaiah 7 v14; Matthew 1 v23

Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.

9 Air: (alto & chorus) Isaiah 40 v9

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain. O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60 v1

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

10 Accompagnato: (bass) Isaiah 60 vv2-3

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

11 Air: (bass) Isaiah 9 v2

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

12 Chorus: Isaiah 9 v6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

13 Pifa: Sinfonia pastorale

14a Recitative: (soprano) Luke 2 v8

There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

14b Accompagnato: (soprano) Luke 2 v9

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them: and they were sore afraid.

15 Recitative: (soprano) Luke 2 vv10-11

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

16 Accompagnato: (soprano) Luke 2 v13

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

17 Chorus: Luke 2 v14

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.

18 Air: (soprano) Zechariah 9 vv9-10

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is the righteous Saviour, and he shall speak peace unto the heathen.

19 Recitative: (alto) Isaiah 35 vv5-6

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

20 Duet: (soprano & alto) Isaiah 40 v11

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: and he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

Matthew 11 3 vv28-29

Come unto him, all ye that labour, come unto him, that are heavy laden, and he will give you rest. Take his yoke upon you, and learn of him; for he is meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

21 Chorus: Matthew 11 v30

His yoke is easy, and his burthen is light. 


German Magnificat Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)

Telemann’s German Magnificat (Meine Seele erhebt den Herrn) is based on the song of praise of Mary, taken from Luke 1:vv46-55 in Luther’s translation. Mary uttered this song of praise when Elisabeth foretold that Mary would bear the Messiah.

The text has always had a central place in the Vespers service and, during the Baroque era it was often set to festive music, especially at Christmas. Telemann divides the text into eight sections, allocating four to the choir and one to each of the soloists.


1 Choir

All my spirit exalts the Lord, and I sing joyously to my God, my own Saviour.

2 Soprano

Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

3 Choir

Because he is that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is his name.

4 Alto

And his mercy is from generations unto generations, to them that fear him.

5 Choir

He hath shewed might in his arm and he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.

6 Tenor

He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.

7 Bass

As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.

8 Choir

Glory be to God the Father and the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, and is now, and shall be both now and evermore. Amen.


Welcome to the new autumn term


We are looking forward to welcoming you all  to the new term of Harleston Choral Society practices.


MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING held on Monday 24 September 2018



held on Monday 24 September 2018

at 8.30 pm in The Church at London Road, Harleston

Jo welcomed Janette, Karen and choir members and declared the meeting open.


  1. Apologies for absence

Apologies were received from Nathaniel Gee, Tom Crisp and Kate Peacher.

  1. Minutes of the last AGM (25 September 2017)

On the proposal of Richard Thomas, seconded by Julia Awty,

the Minutes were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

  1. Report by Musical Director

Janette began by saying how much she has enjoyed working with us.  She said that although she only started working with the choir in January 2018, she came along to the December 2017 Christmas Oratorio concert as a member of the audience, and quickly learnt a lot about the way this choir presents itself musically and socially. Sitting at least two-thirds of the way back from the choir she was delighted to hear every word that we all sang – no mean achievement with an orchestra accompanying the choir in a relatively large church building. Chris had obviously trained us well and had set the standard for future concerts! Janette was also rather overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome from the many choir members to whom she was introduced.  She said that learning our names is going to be an ongoing process for at least the rest of the 2018-19 season, but she still remembers how welcome she was made to feel at that very first concert.

In January 2018 we began our long and somewhat arduous journey with our newly appointed accompanist Karen Smith, on the single work for our June concert, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. It is one of Janette’s all-time favourite choral works and she loves the quirky humour in it and the many, many singable melodies. However, there were times when she wondered how we all felt being herded through pages of ‘amens’, being subjected to microscopic scrutiny regarding intonation and Italianate Latin pronunciation, the mini-lectures about stylistically appropriate singing, and being required to sit in a range of different, preordained arrangements.

Whatever it was we thought about what Janette was doing we went along with it, and that planning and preparation paid dividends in performance. Janette doesn’t know how many of us realised it, but in the concert, the Palestrina-like a cappella section in the first movement that we had rehearsed so very hard week after week to sort the intonation and the musical understanding of exactly how and why things had to be sung in a specific way, actually came off brilliantly; and it stayed at pitch! From that bold opening we went on to do a great job on the rest of the piece. Of course the quality of the soloists and the star-studded trio of keyboard players helped us to raise our game, but no one else sang the choruses for us! Janette was very proud of the performance and enjoyed it immensely, and hopes that we did too.

We are now looking forward to two concerts for the 2018-19 season. The first combines traditional seasonal choral music with some Christmas carols for choir and audience. The second is a foray into a range of different works by Henry Purcell; the first half includes several anthems for choir, soloists and strings and the second half is a concert performance of his opera, Dido & Aeneas.

Janette feels that our Monday night rehearsals are great fun and said that it’s been a pleasure to be working with all of us and with our excellent accompanist, Karen Smith. The musical relationship between the choral conductor and the accompanist is key to the success of every choir. If the chemistry is wrong, the musical outcomes for the choir will always be hard won. Harleston Choral Society has an excellent musician who is sensitive to and supportive of the choir’s needs. Janette thanked Karen, and said that we couldn’t have done any of it without her.

  1. Chair’s Report

Jo began by thanking Janette for her kind words.  She continued by saying that in her newsletter just before term started, she said that it has been a year of great change for the choir with the departure of Chris after a very successful Christmas concert performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and the arrival of Janette and Karen and the equally successful performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle in the summer.  The committee was worried about filling Chris’s shoes but need not have been.  Janette, ably accompanied by Karen, has brought a refreshing and energising approach to our music making and we feel very confident that we are in the best of hands.

Though undoubtedly, our concerts are the highlight of our year and much of what we do is working towards making them the best we can, much else goes on in the life of the choir.  Jo hoped that we will all agree that the move to The London Road Church for our practices has made them more comfortable and enjoyable occasions. We have also put on several successful social events: a coffee get-together after the Christmas concert; the quiz evening in March; the trip to St Andrews Hall to hear the UEA choir; the finger buffet after the summer concert and the garden party in July.  Jo hoped that we have enjoyed these occasions and feel that the committee has responded to requests in last year’s questionnaire for more social events

Jo went on to say that all of these events and the day to day running of the choir are planned and organised by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of people whom she would like to thank hugely for all the work they put into making the choir the thriving organisation it is.  Firstly, Janette, who has put so much time and thought into conducting and leading us and creating our future concert programmes; and Karen for her terrific, good-humoured accompanying. Then Jo’s fellow committee members: Jenny, Caroline, Malcolm, Heather, Joanna, Richard, Julia, John and Carol for making our meetings a pleasure and for all the hard work we have put in and continue to do so.

There are many other people who contribute greatly to us in so many ways: Sheena and Pat for organising the musicians for our concerts; Margaret and her team for the ever efficient running of the front of house; John, Richard, Malcolm and their team of helpers who erect and dismantle the staging; Heather for designing and printing the programmes, posters and tickets; Julia in her role as music librarian and for organising the famed musicians’ teas; Paul for the fabulous transformation of our website; Joanna for organising outings and being a welcoming membership secretary; Sheila for running the Bonus Ball; Fiona for organising the raffles; Lynda and Chris for doing refreshments during our breaks; The Friends of the choir; and, of course, our very supportive patron, Nathaniel, who cannot be here today but has sent a report which will be included in this AGM.  Jo said that she wanted to give special thanks to Heather, who is standing down, after many years of being a committee member and Jo is very pleased to say that Heather will continue to design and produce the tickets, programmes and posters.

Malcolm will be talking to us about our financial situation in his report.  This is something that we need to be thinking about for our future existence.  It is very pleasing that we have had so many new and returning members, which will certainly help our funds.  To that end, we will also be applying for grants and considering other fundraising ideas. Jo then thanked Malcolm very much for his unstinting work as Treasurer

Jo continued by saying that we have approved the minutes of last year’s AGM, which contained in her report her intention for the second year running to step down as Chair.  In fact both Jenny, our untiring and incredibly efficient publicity & minutes secretary, and Jo were planning to step down from the committee this year, but despite ample notice, so far no possible replacements have stepped up.  HCS is a very well run organisation and we hope will continue to be so but it cannot legally exist without a chair and so, after discussion, we have decided that, we are prepared to continue, in order to consolidate the progress the choir has made under Janette’s leadership.  However, Jo said that she has to ask choir members to look for replacements for her and Jenny’s posts by the end of 2018 so that we will have plenty of time to mentor them by next year’s AGM. Other members of the committee have agreed to take on some of their tasks to ease the transition process.

Looking forward, we are already working on an exciting Christmas concert which will include a first, our very own carol, Blessed be that babe, specially written for us by Janette.  An honour indeed. Then in the summer ‘An Evening with Henry Purcell’ including Dido and Aeneas, also a first for us and which Jo is really looking forward to.  All in all it has been an amazing year in which we have taken on board a great deal of change and developed enormously, and Jo thanked all of us for the warmth, enthusiasm and commitment which has made that possible and which makes singing with HCS such a treat.

Finally, Jo paid tribute to Brian Fisher, who died a week ago last Saturday and who was a dedicated and supportive member of our bass section until very recently.  His sense of humour, as well as his wonderful voice will be much missed and his family are pleased that members of the choir will be performing one of his favourite pieces, Danny Boy, at his funeral service this coming Thursday.

  1. Report by Nathaniel Gee, HCS Patron

For the benefit of new members, Jo explained that Nathaniel is the son of Anne Gee, who founded HCS in 2000.  She said how fortunate we are to have Nathaniel as our Patron. Nathaniel is unable to be here this evening and has sent in his report, as follows:

I am sorry that I am not able to be with you this evening in person. It has certainly been an eventful year. Following Chris’s departure, Janette conducting of her first concert with the Choir in the summer, Rossini’s the Petite Messe Solonelle, with that lovely chamber organ accompaniment, was a triumph. As a member of the audience and not singing with the Choir on that occasion, the sound coming from the Choir was of a high quality. It was obvious that much hard work and attention to detail by Janette had gone into the rehearsals.

I was very pleased to learn that Jo and Jenny have offered to stay on the committee for another year, if no-one steps up to replace them.  This will provide some much needed continuity at this stage of transition.

I really want to thank the Committee members for their hard work this past year. Last year I noted that there were 22 people to be thanked. That number has probably not changed very much, and I do know how much hard work goes into providing the wonderful concerts we have by all those concerned.

Last year I spoke about commissioning a piece of music for the Choir, and I can report that this is moving ahead.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Copies of the annual accounts were distributed (a copy of these will be filed with the Minutes).

Malcolm reported that during the year we staged two very enjoyable and successful concerts.  The first one

in December was the final one under the conductorship of Chris, and the second one, which was in June, under the conductorship of Janette.  Income from the two concerts came to £2800. The expenditure for the Christmas concert came to £4,747 and for the June concert it was £3,387.   So the overall deficit from the two concerts was £5135. The previous year the net deficit for the two concerts was £4,016. So the costs this year were 25% higher than the previous year.  Two very different events, with an orchestra of 26 instrumentalists and 4 soloists for Chris’s final concert, so it was a big show, good fun, and a big cost. The June concert, completely different in style, with a successful buffet after the concert, was not so expensive and it was also very enjoyable.

We had very low choir membership numbers last year.  We numbered 35 for the Christmas concert and it improved to 42 for the June concert.  At the moment I am very pleased to announce that if everybody remains in the choir we will be up to 59 members. This makes such a difference to the financial well-being of the choir.

Income from subscriptions for the year just ended was £4920.  With the extra choristers for a full year the subscriptions will be just short of £7000.  This would be really marvellous and it gives us more flexibility with regard to planning concerts and selection of orchestra and soloists.  Add additional gift aid collections to this income of around £400, plus enhanced refreshments and bonus ball income on practice evenings, it gives a different, much more healthy look to the choir’s funding.

We held a very enjoyable quiz evening, with lots of good food, in March at St James Village Hall and made a much improved net income of just over £300, compared to the previous year of £180.  Additionally, we also received a very generous anonymous donation in the summer. All these extra pieces of income help.

We have not had any exceptional expenditure this year, but the deficit from the two concerts have been enough to reduce our bank balance down from £7,730 to £4,360. We now need to work hard to maintain and hopefully increase this amount of money in our funds.  You can see what two concerts will cost. At present we can’t afford another year of high concert costs, but we can maintain the balance by keeping up choir numbers and this is why Malcolm is so pleased and relieved to see the numbers rise. We, the committee, need to make sure that when we plan our concerts we ensure that our expenditure is going to be realistic.  We can’t guarantee selling tickets and generating much greater income but we can control our costs.

Malcolm added that he is in the process of producing a two year forecast so that we can more clearly predict what the cash flows are going to be.  This is a vital piece of work and should in future form part of the accounts for the Society. Last year he was very concerned that falling numbers and higher costs were going to put extra strain on the choir’s funding and its future.  He is a lot more optimistic about our future now and this is largely due to being able to maintain choir membership numbers. So he looks forward to the year ahead which he hopes will be a huge success.

On the proposal of Helen Smith, seconded by Pat Green,

it was agreed to accept the accounts.

  1. Appointment of Auditor

On the proposal of Jenny Hyams, seconded by Jo Curry,

Mr Robin Farrar was appointed as Auditor for the year.

  1. Election of Officers and Committee for the year 2017/2018

It was noted that Heather Butcher has resigned from the Committee and there is therefore one vacancy to be filled on the Committee caused by this resignation.  However, the HCS Constitution allows for a maximum of twelve members, so there are an additional two vacancies to be filled, or left vacant.

It was further noted that those Committee members who were re-elected for three years at the 2015 AGM, and who wish to continue on the Committee, need to be re-elected, preferably en bloc, at this 2018 AGM.  This includes Jo Curry (Chair), Caroline Rodbourne (Vice Chair), Julia Awty (Music Librarian), Malcolm Butcher (Treasurer), Jenny Hyams (Publicity and Minutes Secretary) and Richard Thomas.  Carol Hammond and Joanna Barfield were elected to the Committee at the 2016 AGM and therefore do not require re-election until 2019. John Awty was elected to the Committee at the 2017 AGM and therefore does not require re-election until 2020.

In the absence of any nominations to fill the three Committee vacancies, or to replace those Committee members due for re-election, on the proposal of John Awty, seconded by Joanna Barfield, Jo Curry, Jenny Hyams, Julia Awty, Caroline Rodbourne, Malcolm Butcher and Richard Thomas were re-elected en bloc for a further three years.

  1. Friends of Harleston Choral Society

Carol Hammond said that there are no changes to report.  The Friends of Harleston Choral Society remain supportive and committed to our choir, although one or two people have let her know that they no longer feel able to attend our concerts, but continue to support us.

The Friends receive a copy of our Newsletter as well as the AGM Agenda and the Minutes of last year’s AGM.  They are a well-informed group. Carol also lets them know when we are holding fundraising events, so that they may join us if they wish to do so.

They have been coming to our concerts for many years.  It is always interesting and usually encouraging to receive their comments.  As most of you know, the Harleston Choral Society was born in the year 2000 under the direction of our founder Anne Gee. The Friends Scheme began the following year.

Carol said that she would like to record our thanks to our Friends for their sustained loyalty and enthusiasm.

  1. Any Other Business

Dido & Aeneas at Snape:  Joanna reported that ETO will be performing this as part of a triple bill, on Saturday 3 November at 7.30 pm.

As there was no further business, Jo thanked everyone for attending the AGM, and declared the meeting closed, at 9.05 pm.


Signed …………………………………………………………………………  Date ………………………………………….

Report of Committee Meeting, 20 September


REPORT of the Committee Meeting held on Thursday 20 September 2018

at 7.00 pm at Church Farm, All Saints

Present: John Awty, Julia Awty, Joanna Barfield, Malcolm Butcher, Jo Curry, Carol Hammond, Jenny Hyams

In attendance: Janette Ruocco

  1. Apologies for Absence

Received from Heather Butcher, Caroline Rodbourne and Richard Thomas.

  1. Minutes of the last meeting (7 June 2018)

Confirmed and signed as a correct record.

  1. Brian Fisher

Brian’s funeral will be on Thursday 27 September at St John’s Church at 2.30 pm, followed by burial at Needham Church and a gathering afterwards at The Swan in Harleston. At his son’s request, some choir members will sing one of Brian’s favourite pieces of music.

  1. Matters arising

Data Protection:  40 consent forms have been returned plus two from Janette and Karen, leaving a shortfall of 17.  Jo thanked John, Jenny and Joanna for their hard work in getting the new GDPR regulations in place for HCS.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

This was deferred until the AGM on 24th.  Malcolm reported that the accounts have been audited and returned. All subs for the current term are now in, with the exception of those from new members.

  1. AGM

The arrangements for the AGM on 24th were briefly discussed, and the seating arrangements agreed. Nathaniel will not be there but will submit his Patron’s Report.  So far no ballot papers have been received. In the event that there are no nominations, Jo and Jenny will stay in their posts for one more year, John will take on Jo’s responsibility for church and hall bookings, and Joanna Jenny’s for keeping the website up to date.

  1. Summer Concert, June 2018

There was very good feedback on the concert, although some of the audience said that they would like to hear more of the choir and less of the soloists. The Committee thanked Janette for her very helpful and easy to follow conducting.

  1. Concerts Christmas 2018 – Summer 2019

(i) Christmas Concert, Saturday 8 December 2018, Blessed be that Babe

Janette distributed her paper on the soloists and musicians, the programme running order, and the concert day arrangements, under the title of her composition for the choir, Blessed be that babe (a copy of Janette’s paper will be filed with the Minutes).

Julia said that she will organise tea for the soloists, Karen, and the Ensemble, plus a possible additional three Basses and two Tenors. Wine only will be served in the interval, charged for, not by donation.

(ii) Summer Concert, Saturday 22 June 2019, An Evening with Henry Purcell

Janette distributed an updated paper on the music we will be singing, the soloists, and the musicians for the evening (a copy of this will be filed with the Minutes). She is considering giving the parts of the First and Second Witches to Soprano and/or Alto choir members. Choir music will be obtained for free from the Essex Music Education Hub.

(iii) Christmas Concert, Saturday 14 December 2019, The Twelve Days of Christmas

Janette distributed an updated paper on this concert (a copy of this will be filed with the Minutes).

(iv) Summer Concert, 20 June 2020, Songs and Cries

Janette distributed copies of her ‘First Thoughts’ for this concert (a copy of this will be filed with the Minutes), which might include jazzy items, spirituals, a children’s choir, and a piano duet.  To be discussed further at the next Committee meeting.

(v) Christmas Concert, 5 or 12 December 2020, The First Nowell

Janette distributed her ‘First Thoughts’ for this concert (a copy of this will be filed with the Minutes), which might require four soloists and nineteen instrumentalists. It was suggested that because of the potential cost of this concert, it might be worth considering joining forces with another of Janette’s choirs/orchestras.

  1. NCC Music Lending Library

Julia said there is nothing to report because we are borrowing less music from NCC MLL.

  1. Website

Jenny said that the website is up to date, and the Home Page is a tribute to Paul’s talent. The Committee sent congratulations to Paul on his doctorate.

  1. Sponsorship/funding

Jenny distributed copies of her paper on possible funding sources (a copy of this will be filed with the Minutes), and apologised for not having had adequate time to consider sponsorship. All the five funders listed ask for an identified project for which funding is being requested; Adnams and the Garfield Weston Foundation both require information on ongoing/previous fund-raising activities, and the amount raised; and The Norwich Freemen’s Charity’s priority funding areas emphasises the educational benefit of any project for which funding is being sought. However, the Garfield Weston Foundation’s Revenue/Core Costs is the only one of the five listed charities which will consider grants towards an organisation’s running costs.

It was agreed that Jenny, Jo and Malcolm will look into an application to the Garfield Weston Foundation for a grant towards HCS’s running costs; Malcolm in the meantime will produce costing evidence for this; further discussion on a possible identified project and current fund-raising to go to the next Committee meeting; sponsorship also to be considered at this meeting

  1. Quiz Evening

Caroline will find out availability in March of St James Village Hall.

  1. Dates of next meetings

Saturday 10 November: outing to Norwich Cathedral for Brahms Requiem

Monday 3 December: ‘check list’ concert meeting, 7.00 pm, back room of The Church at London Road

Saturday 26 January 2019: Committee meeting

  1. AOB

(i) Amended term date:  Spring Term 2019 to end on Monday 1 April rather than 8th

(ii) Beccles Choral Society:  Joanna pointed out that Beccles Choral Society has produced a bookmark listing all their 2018-2020 concerts.

(iii) Meljon Singers:  Janette’s Chamber Choir will be singing ‘Voices of Passion’ on Saturday 13 October 2018 at  St John’s Church, Epping. Programme includes John Tavener’s Svyati and Richard Rodney Bennett’s A farewell to Arms.  Tickets reduced for HCS members.

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,