Over the last year we found ourselves grappling with Zoom – trying to keep ourselves in voice, and the spirit of the choir alive, by singing together. Those of us who joined the group certainly enjoyed the experience, but we missed those who opted out. Zoom choir practices can never hope to replace the joy of making music and singing together in the same physical space and we are looking forward to being able to do that again soon.
During our Summer Term, a short six weeks in April and May, we sang a number of delightful pieces led by Sebastian Thomson, our Music Director:
‘The Long Day Closes’ by Sullivan
‘Crossing the Bar’ by Parry
‘Now is the Month of Maying’ by Morley
‘Pastyme with Good Company’ by Henry VIII
‘Oh Lord, in Thee is All my Trust’ by Tallis.
Different from our usual choral pieces, these were shorter and easier to learn, giving us a heady sense of achievement and pleasure in those few weeks.
It is now summer and, unfortunately, Covid is still having a big impact on the way we are leading our lives, even though we are out of lockdown. The Committee is drawing up plans to start rehearsals again in September, but are mindful of the continuing need to keep each other safe. We hope that we do not have to return to Zoom sessions.
Unfortunately, we can’t yet decide about a concert in 2021 due to the continuing prevalence of Covid infections, but remain hopeful that we will be back to normal soon.
It is now more than a year since the choir have been able to meet physically and sing together. It has been a year of significant change, in many ways, and we are pleased to report that we remain buoyant, and confident that we will sing together again before too long.
We have also got to grips with virtual singing practices on Zoom under the remarkable leadership of Sebastian Thomson, our musical director, supported by the IT skills of Ralph Knowles. Sebastian does not hear our voices but is still able to motivate us and help us learn quite difficult sections. These sessions are a poor substitute for our normal practices, but they have kept us in voice and have cemented our friendship.
In the Spring term we sang ‘Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace’ by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, ‘Verleih uns Freiden’ (Grant us Thy Peace) by Felix Mendelssohn and ‘Te Deum in C’ by Franz Joseph Haydn; three really beautiful pieces. We chose to sing all in the languages in which they were composed, and for the last two this means singing in German and Latin. It perhaps helped that we could not be heard while we grappled with some of the phrases!
We have planned further Zoom sessions in April and May, 6 weeks of madrigals and short pieces via Zoom, before Boris’ roadmap allows us some freedom, at which point I suspect most of us will want to spread our wings while the weather is warm.
The other activity which Zoom has facilitated are our Quiz evenings for choir members and their families. We had a further one before Easter which was great fun. Zoom has its advantages – being able to sit comfortably at home with a glass or two of booze and no worries about either getting dressed up for the occasion or driving!
Will we be allowed actual practice sessions come the Autumn? We really hope so, and in order to be ready we have planned the pieces we would hope to sing. With all the talk of a possible third wave of infections we have doubts about holding a November concert, but perhaps by next Spring we will be performing again in All Saints’ Church. Fingers crossed!
The start of another difficult year and the choir are still unable to meet and practise together, nor are we able to even plan concerts. Vaccination may allow us to meet physically in the Autumn, but that is not guaranteed – until then we have Zoom!
The choir are now enjoying another term of singing using Zoom, skilfully guided by our musical director, Sebastian Thomson. We are singing Haydn’s ‘Te Deum’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘Verleih uns Frieden’ – two beautiful pieces. Although we cannot hear each other sing there is nevertheless pleasure in singing together and learning new pieces which will extend our repertoire. We also have the fillip of a social chat for a few minutes before practice begins when we can share some light-hearted conversation.
We had three sessions of Carol Singing via Zoom in December which helped foster a festive mood prior to a very different Christmas from usual.
The other social interaction we have enjoyed as a choir has been our excellent Quiz evenings via Zoom. We had one in November and another, a Christmas Quiz, on 18th December. Our quizmaster, Neil Weston, was on fine form, and both evenings went well. We hope that future quizzes will be on the agenda.
We are having three Christmas Zoom singing sessions for the three weeks from 27th November at the cost of £10. These are open to anyone who would like to join us. They run from 7:15 to 8:30 pm on a Friday evening. We will be concentrating on Christmas carols from Carols for Choirs Vols. 1 and 2, so the songs will be familiar. Have no fear that anyone will criticise your voice – you will be muted and will be singing to yourself at home, but in the jovial company of others on Zoom. Please join us.
Unfortunately, the All Saints’ Singers have not been able to meet in person during the Covid crisis, but, not to be outdone, a stalwart group have been singing with our music director, Sebastian Thomson, using Zoom.
We have enjoyed getting to grips with Brahms’ ‘How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place’, Vivaldi’s Credo RV 591 and Mendelssohn’s Te Deum and look forward to tackling more beautiful choral works next term.
In addition, we are having three sessions singing Christmas carols and anthems in the run-up to Christmas.
Singing on Zoom has a few drawbacks, the main one being the inability to hear the sound of our voices together as a choir. Because of differences in timing between different internet systems using Zoom it is impossible to sing together. We therefore sit in the comfort of our own home and sing to ourselves. We hear the piano and are ably guided by Sebastian, and we accompany recordings of the pieces, but our voices are muted. Advantages include the fact that mistakes go unnoticed and, of course, refreshments can include wine or a sneaky gin and tonic, which helps enormously. More than that, we have the pleasure of a few minutes’ social interaction prior to the singing and that is helping raise our spirits and ensuring a sense of community.
Nothing will replace the joy of singing together as a choir, but it will be many months before we will be able to do that safely, and for some of us our Zoom sessions are the next best thing.
As soon as we are able to meet we will be working towards concerts. We will keep you posted.
ALL SAINTS’ SINGERS, SUTTON COURTENAY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING BY ZOOM ON 25 SEPTEMBER 2020 AT 8.30 PM Present: Patrick Salisbury (President), Sandra Knowles (in the Chair), Peter Bronsdon, Val Bronsdon, Rita Burt, Nick Dunton, Steve Fisher, Tony Gillman, Katherine Harrop-Griffiths, William Hudson, Susan King, Ralph Knowles, Alex Landsbert, Neil Weston, and Sebastian Thompson (Music Director). Apologies: Amos Clarke, Gill Holcombe, Margaret Notley, Adrian Rance-McGregor, Liz Rance-McGregor.
Welcome Sandra welcomed everyone to the Zoom meeting. She explained that the proceedings would be recorded, as required by the Charity Commission for settling any possible disputes in the voting process, but that the recording would be destroyed when the need was past. Members were given the opportunity to withdraw, but everyone remained connected.
Minutes of the AGM on 12 July 2019 These had been previously circulated. There were no comments, questions or points arising, and they were passed unanimously as a correct record of the meeting.
Chairman’s Report Sandra had previously circulated her report as Acting Chairman. There were no questions or comments. She reiterated her thanks to Patrick, as President; to Steve, for his valiant work as immediate past Chairman; to Sebastian for all his enthusiasm and commitment, especially in running the current Zoom workshops; and to all the Committee Members for their co-operation during a difficult period of lockdown and change.
Financial Report The Financial Report for 2019 – 2020, examined on 23 September 2020, had been previously circulated to members, along with an updated statement following the 2019 AGM (which had been held before the Financial Year End). There was a remaining overall surplus of £1,812.68, and assets totalled £3,567.75. The Spring Quiz had netted £1,204.40. There were no comments or questions.
Changes to the All Saints Singers Constitution The proposed changes, and the reasons for them had been previously circulated. They were taken point by point:
For ‘Trustee Officers’ read ‘Trustees’ – because not all Trustees are Officers. There were no objections – carried unanimously.
Delete ‘Publicity Officer’ and ‘Concert Manager’ and change ‘three’ to ‘five’ – to give more flexibility in allocating roles of Trustees. No objections – carried unanimously.
Add ‘The quorum at Trustee’s Meetings shall be one-third of the Trustees plus one’ – being normal practice to specify a quorum. No objections – carried unanimously.
Add ‘elected’ to ensure elected Committee Members always outnumber co-opted ones. No objections – carried unanimously.
Delete ‘As co-optees for special duties’ – being unnecessarily prescriptive. No objections – carried unanimously.
Delete ‘but only until the next Annual General meeting’ – unnecessary. No objections – carried unanimously.
Add ‘in the event of casual vacancies among the Officers, the Trustees shall have the power to reallocate the roles among their number’ – a precaution in the event of sudden resignations. No objections – carried unanimously.
Add ‘’The Trustees shall hold no fewer than two meetings in any year’ – being normal practice to specify a minimum number of meetings. No objections – carried unanimously.
Add ‘and may also conduct the business of the Society by the circulation of papers or emails, or by video-conferencing’. No objections – carried unanimously.
Under ‘Finance, for ‘guarantees and tickets’ read ‘guarantees. Tickets’ – because they are distinct. No objections – carried unanimously.
Add ‘General Meetings may be held by video-conferencing’ – to cater for any future situations where physical meetings are officially not advised. There were no objections – carried unanimously.
Elections for Trustees • Sandra Knowles proposed as Chairman by Neil Weston, seconded by Susan King. • Neil Weston proposed as Treasurer by Susan King, seconded by Val Bronsdon. • Kathy Harrop-Griffiths proposed as Secretary by Sandra Knowles, seconded by Alex Landsbert. • Susan King proposed as Librarian by Ralph Knowles, seconded by Val Bronsdon. • Val Bronsdon proposed as Trustee by Alex Landsbert, seconded by Susan King. • William Hudson proposed as Trustee by Neil Weston, seconded by Val Bronsdon. • Alex Landsbert proposed as Trustee by Val Bronsdon, seconded by Ralph Knowles. There being no other nominations, all were declared duly elected.
Any Other Business • Sandra thanked the Choir Members for their confidence in the Committee. She invited any member with concerns or suggestions to contact her. • Steve regretted that there was no longer a dedicated ‘Publicity Officer’. He was assured that the need for publicity was still recognised, but that the necessary skills would be sourced jointly by the Committee. • One new possible member had been recruited through Facebook. • There had been a recent very generous donation of £1000. • Another Zoom Quiz would take place on Friday 20 November – to be run by Neil. • Neil thanked Sandra for steering the Committee through a challenging time. There being no other business, the Meeting was closed at 8.55 pm.
The impact of Covid on choirs has been significant because singing is deemed to carry a substantial risk of droplet and aerosol dispersal, and thus the spread of Covid19. Even in Glyndebourne the singers have to be nine foot apart! Therefore, unfortunately, we are unable to plan any concerts for the immediate future. But please be assured that although we are unable to meet physically we are trying to keep ourselves in voice by holding virtual choir meetings in the form of Zoom sessions with our choirmaster, Sebastian Thomson. So far we have had two sessions and plan ten more over the autumn term. We have chosen two delightful pieces, Brahms’ ‘How lovely is thy dwelling place’ and Vivaldi’s Credo R.V. 591, to add to our repertoire.
As soon as the Covid pandemic allows us we will start planning our next concert. We will keep all those subscribing to our newsletter up to date with future plans.
There was a good attendance for the quiz run over Zoom and everybody seemed to enjoy it. Results are shown below:
Sandra and Ralph timed their Joker well and played it on the last round to achieve a clear win. This round was entitled English Literature and required knowledge of Wind in the Willows, of the Owl and the Pussycat, and of Christopher Robin. Other rounds assumed knowledge of motorbike and formula 1 racing and of flags. Unfortunately there were no questions on physics, maths, computing, croquet or bridge and so the chairman, despite making a number of appeals for his score to be adjusted, came last.