CTCC AGM 10th JUNE 2017


CTCC AGM 10th JUNE 2017 This occasion was a particularly successful one, even compared with the excellent events we have enjoyed over the years. St Botolph’s is a fine city church with a good acoustic for music, though its smaller but equally fine parish hall proved to have a poor one for public speaking.
The hall requires a sound system – especially for the back rows of an audience! One of the problems is the carpeted interior. I think it’s one of the few times this has been the case in our events, though of course, there may have be some members who would disagree privately!

The lunch we were served was excellent – again, one of the best at our events. The Chairman’s report was of unusual importance this year. Slightly edited to fit on a leaflet for members only, it is inserted in the autumn issue of Clarion Call.

For this occasion there was a particularly good turn-out. But once again, I’m sure many of those present recalled the Bard’s in- part reproach in Henry V: ‘Gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here’. We mustn’t be sexist though, so please substitute ‘members’ for the first word in the quotation!




CTCC AGM 10th JUNE 2017In what have been listed as the fundamental questions in any enquiry as the Five Ws – Who, What, Why, When, Where – our member Martin Renshaw homed in on Where in his talk to CTCC members. This was presented at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, conveniently situated for most people near Liverpool Street station. The main concern was ‘Rediscovering the musical life of the medieval church’. Many present would have remembered Martin’s richly informative presentation in May 2016 at the Charterhouse on ‘Boys becoming singer-musicians in the early 16th century’.
The ‘Where’ question at St Botolph’s was specifically to address the topic of ‘Where they sang’ in the estimated twelve thousand parish churches and chapels in the country ‘up to the fateful year 1548’. Martin’s capable assistant, Dr Vicki Harding, was responsible for as many as sixty screen projections of buildings, books and music, with Martin ranging far and wide over such items as doors and windows, floor levels and organs, not to forget Stobbes – lockable bookstores, the word unknown even to Wikipedia. Mind-boggling was the information that, at different times in the 16th century, as many as a quarter of a million hand written illuminated parchment and vellum books were wantonly destroyed. Sadly, we all know why.
Of particular interest was the information concerning timings of services in parish churches. Mention was made of Morrow Masses, the first of which was celebrated at 4.00 am, with the poor sexton up an hour earlier to ring the bell. The canonical hours were marked during the day. What a dedicated life: ‘the constant praise in the heavenly Jerusalem’. For more fascinating material, will recall the lectures and will surely provide many more facts to boggle the mind.
Graham Matthews, Organist of Charterhouse
former Master of the Music, Sheffield Cathedral



We knew these boys from this Catholic School would be good, judging by their impressive workload and venues where they had sung (the most striking being the number of their appearances in Anglican Cathedrals); but if ever we wanted to highlight the reasons for having a CTCC at all, this would have been the ideal moment and one which would have gladdened the heart of Canon Ronald Sibthorp and Sir Sydney Nicholson. How ironic then that it is the Roman Catholic Church which is keen to uphold the very tradition CTCC strives to support and foster, while the Anglican Church is hell-bent on destroying it!
We are mightily indebted to Scott Price and his most accomplished organist Jestyn Evans for planning such a varied and superbly performed programme. The most telling feature, along with the built-in cohesion of the group and sheer beauty and clarity of the boys’ voices, was their amazing discipline and enthusiasm. There was no fuss – every boy was ready to sing when required and solo boys seemed to be chosen at random and popped up like champagne corks out of fizzy bottles! Very impressive.

CTCC AGM 10th JUNE 2017

There's no better way to open a concert when considering music for boys' voices than Benjamin Britten. His Missa Brevis, written for George Malcolm and his Westminster Cathedral boys when Britten was 45 (three years before his mammoth War Requiem), is a supreme example of his ability to attract boys and audiences alike. Britten's genius here is in adopting a different approach when writing for professionally trained choristers than for untutored amateurs, e.g. Noyes Flood and Let's make an Opera.
Missa Brevis is full of all the awkwardness of odd melodic intervals, syncopated rhythms, dissonances, contrasting speeds and verbal tongue twisters that boys love to conquer. Needless to say it sounded like child's play to these boys.
Halfway through the first half of the concert we were treated to a delightful boys-only anthem, King of Glory, King of Peace by Dr William H Harris which I had not heard since my days as a chorister at Canterbury – such nostalgia!
Then suddenly a tiny boy appeared in front of the main body and proceeded to start singing one of the most difficult solos in the repertoire: Mendelssohn’s Hear my Prayer. It requires quality musicianship and is virtually a quarter of an hour of singing NON-STOP without a rest. I need not have worried whether he could manage it, as when Master Aidan Cole had finished he calmly squirmed his way back through the ranks to be ready for the next piece. Definitely 'cool'!
True to good programme-planning the concert ended with three folk songs arranged by Britten. All in all it had been an hour of angelic magic!
Grayston Burgess



Spring event and AGM 2016It 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 Byrd’s Agnus Dei (Mass for Four Voices) to extracts from Britten’s 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 O’Malley, 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 King’s 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-King’s 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 Renshaw’s fascinating illustrated lecture entitled From Boat-boy to Cardinal: how boys became singer-musicians in the early 16th century (SoundsMedieval). 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.

Spring event and AGM 2016   Spring event and AGM 2016

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.

John Harvey





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