It’s been a curious few weeks, and none curiouser than my recent engagements in the small Gloucestershire town of Tetbury. A few months ago, the one person who reads this blog, will remember that I took on the position of Musical Director at Tetbury Community Choir. At the time this was a great opportunity. Not only was it the nearest choir to where I currently live but the vacancy came along right at the moment I was looking to take on a new choir.
Full of inspiration in July 2021, myself and Anne-Marie prepared a programme of music for Christmas as the choir hadn’t performed anything in public for a few years due to a combination of lockdown and lacking a musical director since 2019. This was all going fairly well and I had tasked the choir committee to arrange a concert. They decided that the best thing was to sing in a local care home. Whilst my expectations and plans were aimed a little higher than that, I also agree that supporting the local community is a good thing. This was all going well until a few days before, the care home in question was closed down due to a covid outbreak and our one and only event was cancelled.
No matter I thought let’s move forward. Looking ahead at that time the next major event on anyones calendar was the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June and it just so happens there had been a song written to celebrate the occasion. Further investigation discovered that the church in Tetbury was a beacon site and so there was an opportunity to sing the aforementioned song at an event on 2 June.
Without wishing to dwell on this, and cutting a long story short, it turned out that my ambitions for the choir were far greater than those of the choir committee. Over the years I have had many encounters and ‘run ins’ with choir committees and so I was keen on this occasion not to have a repeat of that. Instead I gave the committee full reign of proceedings and simply followed their wishes and instructions. Typically however, the opposite happened, which was essentially nothing! I put forward ideas for concerts and events – these were talked about but never organised. In fact the only thing we almost achieved was not quite learning one song in 6 months.
And so, I abandoned all my ambitions and for the first time in my history of leading a choir, I resorted to using a backing track. Not only that, and even with copies of music to stare at, Tetbury community choir could only sing along to a pre recorded backing track of another choir singing.
As any one who reads this blog knows, this goes against everything I believe choirs should be. Consequently, I decided that I perhaps wasn’t the right person to lead the choir and have made way for someone with a different skill set to take them on into the future.
All of which brings me onto the organ bench of St Mary’s Church in Tetbury. Barely a week after resigning from the community choir, I found myself with an invitation to play the organ at St Mary’s. This was for a Sunday morning eucharist service.
Despite needing some attention, the organ was in fairly good order. If nothing else it is at least a proper pipe organ which is considerably better than the instrument I have been used to at St Thomas’ in Bath for the last few years.
The service was very pleasing and the organ was a delight to play. It was a standard Eucharist Service with sung communion setting. Congregation wise probably around 50 people were in attendance. I was joined in the organ loft by a small choir – some of whom I knew from Tetbury Community Choir. As it was Trinity Sunday, the most appropriate voluntary I could come up with at short notice was JS Bach’s St Anne Fugue in E Flat.
All told I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play the organ at St Mary’s in Tetbury and would be delighted to do so again should the opportunity arise.
Jules Addison is an organist and one half of JAM Duo. His opinion on most things is not usually that relevant and generally not to everyone’s taste. You are free to disagree with the thoughts above!