Handwashers’ Newsletter 26th April 2020

 Thank you for your kind messages of appreciation for these Newsletters. To bring some colour into them we like to introduce pictures where we can. You may find that your server doesn’t deliver them ready opened. Simply right click on the X at the top, then on Download Pictures and all should be revealed in glorious technicolour. Ed.


Given how slowly time is passing in lockdown, it’s hard to realise we would only now have been entering concert week. No-one yet knows how the lockdown can be relaxed and when we may variously be released from its strictures, so we can’t yet be sure when, and in what form, CCS will be able to resume its activities. We can report, however, that the financial health of the Society has not been significantly damaged by the current crisis. The timing of the pandemic enabled us to cancel our May concert well in advance of the date, so we were spared incurring major unsupported concert costs.  And because we budget provision for our season’s professional fees we were able to pay Carleton and Jenny their fees for this term’s cancelled rehearsals. 

As already announced, we hope we will be able to perform the Handel and Linley works next season and our plans to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary remain in hand. Current thinking is that it may be appropriate to defer the Beethoven to 8th May 2021 and pick up the Handel and Linley when we resume in the autumn for the 5th December concert, but we can only speculate at the moment. We’ll do our best to keep you informed how our plans develop once the fog begins to clear.  


From Andy: Diana and I once sang S S Wesley’s Blessed be theGod and Father ‘remotely’ in a choral evensong back in 2005 – but not remotely in the Tenebrae sense!  This was in Dreischor, a tiny village in windswept Zeeland, well off the tourist route of most visitors to the Netherlands. The historic and acoustically wonderful church stands at its centre, surrounded by a moat and many of the houses.

(When Lorna and I went to Dreischor the Church was locked and barred (and we couldn’t hear anything that sounded like S S Wesley) but the village is lovely and Zeeland, not windswept in our experience, is wonderful for birds! Ed.)

From Tim: Carleton’s reference last week to Hereford Cathedral Choir on Easter Sunday 1853 consisting only of trebles and the Dean’s butler singing bass, recalled our researches into the revival of choral music in the Anglican Church in the 19th Century. Prior to that revival, S S Wesley was not alone in his frustration, as the state of church and cathedral choirs throughout the Country was lamentable.

Two of the leading figures in the revival of church music were the brothers Thomas and Frederick Helmore. Frederick, aka ‘The Musical Missionary’, travelled the country training choirs and starting Choral Classes. On Tuesday 6th October 1863 he held the first choral class in Cirencester which became Cirencester Choral Society.

If you haven’t already done so, read all about it in ‘Bright Faces, The Story of Cirencester Choral Society and Its Conductors’. Order your copy by email to timp470@btinternet.com and include an IOU for £5 to CCS; redeemable when Boris permits.  



SINGING LESSONS: Graham Shearn invites you to join him in these singing lessons with English Travelling Opera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZlUKk73t-M

CHORAL HORROR STORY Jo Birkin warns against away fixtures: In 1972 I had married the musical director of Swindon Musical Society as it was then.  We were performing Verdi Requiem and somehow had arranged an exchange with a choir who sang in Southwark cathedral. They came to us without mishap, they sang choir 1 in the Sanctus and we were 2.  On the return trip the bus got onto the M4, promptly developed a problem and limped to Membury services which had only just opened and weren’t much better than a series of porta-cabins. Presumably there was a payphone to let someone at Southwark know.  We didn’t make the rehearsal and were late for the concert, a friend who had stayed with relatives still remembers being the only person in a white top!  I can’t remember exactly when we got there but fortunately before the Sanctus.  John never forgave the committee for going for a bargain deal on the bus.

AND FINALLY: Gill Hornby reminds us of hilarious announcements made in churches and parish magazines including some you’ve probably not have seen before. Get ready to laugh then click here: Parish News Bulletins


PS. Bet you wish you had a post person like this. Ed.