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A Christmas Message from our Chairman

A Christmas Message from our Chairman

Dear Knights,

Well that was a year I think we’ll all remember for a long time to come.  Not all good to say the least, but actually not all bad either. 

Congratulations must go to the winner of two major trophies this yearMr Martin Tasker.  For almost his entire time in the chorus we’ve been in lockdown and yet he’s won the Don Amos Trophy for non-musical contributions to the chorus as voted by the Executive Committee, for his introduction of the synch tracks, his unrelenting piecing together of parts recorded at home to make quartets, small groups and subsequently his work has continued with the whole chorus Christmas Carols, which has been great I think you’ll agree.  Not satisfied with that however he also won the popular vote of the chorus winning this year’s  Knights of Harmony Barbershopper of the year.  Well done Martin.

We have a third and brand new award this year, the John Wiggins Award for musicianship.  It is a trophy worthy of the man who’s name it bears and I am absolutely thrilled to have been the first winner.  Sean’s citation says it was awarded this year in recognition of the outstanding work level needed to change from Bass to Tenor and determination to improve singing technique shown during all coaching sessions.  I am proud to have it on my mantel piece.

Well done and thank you to the other new joiners from the Come and Sing course in September 2019 and Matt Roscoe, who joined us as a birthday present from his wife.  If you don’t know the story, have a look on the website for Chas’ article.  These guys have managed just two and a half months on the risers before lockdown and have not only embraced what we are trying to do but, strengthened the backbone of a chorus whose members they barely know.  Our newest member Dick May re-joined us during lockdown and has already picked up the fundraising hat with the weekly football card. Respect to you all gentlemen, thank you for all you work and contributions.  Thanks to David Lewis who has taken on the Techy bits and updating the website, and to Neil Kennedy who is doing a sterling job as our new Treasurer taking over from Mike Abbot who completed the maximum period in post that is permissible under our constitution.  Thank you both. 

A special mention goes to our dear friend Mike Fessey to whom I am personally very grateful, for pulling together the last minute arrangements for our 2020 retreat and all the other bits and pieces he does in the background.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  Thank you Mike

My personal thanks go to the members of your Executive Committee and to Trevor in particular.  Without him, I have no idea how I’d have carried out the duties of Chairman.  Smashing numbers into a spreadsheet here, a friendly nudge there and a words of concern for members welfare, has, in a very kind and unassuming way, given the illusion that I am a far more efficient and caring chairman than I actually am.  I owe you a great debt Trevor, thank you again.  Thanks also go to Ian, Neil, Matthew, Nick for all their work on risk assessments, finances, finding alternative places to rehearse, keeping an eye on what other choruses are doing, keeping up to date with new initiatives such as Jamulus, (speak to Ian if you want to know more) bashing meeting minutes out before midnight on the day of the meeting and for keeping a sense of humour when mine is being tested. 

Trevor, Simon, and of course Sean are owed an enormous debt of thanks by us all.  Between them they have kept the chorus in existence with the zoom experience, finding new songs to learn, embracing the technology and the very difficult task of providing material that educates rather than entertains, that provokes thought and keeps interested members returning week after week.  We have mostly engaged with the process with input but if you have not, I am sure you have all been provoked into forming an opinion of your own as to what ‘performance’ actually means.  I’m pretty sure it’s not stood on the risers looking like plastic goldfish, but I’m also sure it doesn’t mean synchronised funny walks either.  Conveying the meaning of the song with feeling, emotion and conviction selling it to an audience who want to be entertained.  That’s what I’ve taken from it all and it’s been very informative.  I hope the members can take from it what you intended and we become a more dynamic active chorus as a result.

Small group singing has become a norm for a few of us too.  I know the Cavaliers, Matthew Cawthorne, Ian Jones, Stevie Brooks and Mike Abbot have managed regular rehearsals despite the restrictions, remaining within the law and respecting social distancing.  Another group consisting of Neil Kennedy, Martin Tasker, Henry Bell, Richard Sutton, Mark Turnham and myself have come together to sing as a small socially distanced group with the aim of learning songs together.  It has paid off handsomely and we all really enjoy the interaction with each other and of course, what we’re all in this thing for, Singing with another human voice.  Steve Parslow, Dick May, Nick Rushworth, Rob Connor and Ady Terrebas have also given it a go and hopefully one of them will pull things together to allow them to do whatever helps them most.  If your name is not listed above, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, bar Covid rules, preventing you from doing the same.  If you need help setting up a small group, give any of the above mentioned members a call and I’m sure they’ll tell you all about what we do.  It’s not rocket science.

Chesham United Football Club has presented an opportunity to use an outdoor rehearsal facility starting in January.  Unfortunately it looks like COVID will get in the way to begin with at least, but I am very hopeful we’ll be able to begin rehearsals with a group of 16 members soon.  Social distancing, wearing of masks and a lack of socialising will of course be inevitable, but at least we’ll be able to sing once more.  I need to know how many of you will want to attend on a cold frosty night under cover from above, behind and to the sides but completely open to the front with a view of the football pitch.  There is of course absolutely no heating but as the Norwegians say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.  Please drop me a line if you are interested and I will knock up a rota.  More information will be forthcoming soon.  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am by the prospect of singing together again.  A number of studies around the world identified the enormous benefits singing can have on mental health, for me returning to the risers simply cannot come soon enough.

Those who do not wish to brave the elements will also be catered for by way of the continuation of zoom.  The Exec and music teams are working on technological solutions to integrate part of the live rehearsal with zoom and I hope to have more to say on that early in the new year.  The zoom meetings will be largely the same as they are now, with Simon taking the helm and joint time with those at Chesham United FC.

Those of you who have opted out of zoom and other initiatives are few, but we miss, value and care about you all.  I hope that we will be able to welcome you back into live rehearsals soon and I thank you for your patience and for continuing to pay subs and support the club in a number of ways.  We are all one team and if you have any ideas of things we can do to spark your interest and get you involved further please send them to me and I’ll do my best to make things happen.

Bournemouth Convention has been cancelled, just in case that bit of news has passed you by.  I’m personally disappointed as it might have levelled the playing field somewhat with the big boys not able to rehearse either, but at least we know now rather than finding out at Easter. 

Please continue to sing along to teach tracks, put your recordings in for evaluation, take on board the comments of your section leaders or Henry.  Improve where you can, then have another go.  It really isn’t the same as singing all together, but if you know the songs before we get back together, it’s going to be a much much better experience when we eventually do return.

COVID has scuppered many plans this year, but I know you will all make the most of what we have.  I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful, safe Christmas and a 2021 to remember for very different reasons to 2020.  Until we meet again, Stay safe and keep singing.

In Harmony and in fellowship

Bill