Choir AGM 28 May 2019: Chairman's Report

Good evening everyone and a very warm welcome to the 73rd Annual General Meeting of Chester Music Society Choir.

I have received apologies for absence from 13 members

Is it possible for us to approve the minutes of the last AGM? I have no matters arising. Are there any from the floor?

Our first priority this evening is to approve the membership of the Choir Committee for the 2019-20 season. Two committee members are due to stand down under the three-year service rule, but both have the option to continue to serve if supported by the membership and if they so wish. The first is Linda Manning our Rehearsals Co-ordinator. I am delighted to inform you that Linda is willing to carry on in this role. Could I please have a nominator for this? And a seconder, please. Thank you. The second person so affected is me. I would very much like to continue to exercise the privilege that is service as your Chairman, if you are prepared to have me. Having thus been re-appointed, my priorities over the next three years will be threefold:

  • To meet the challenges presently posed to us by changes in the cathedral’s letting arrangements in ways which allow us to function in line with our objectives

  • To maintain and improve the quality and artistic integrity of what we do

  • To explore ways in which the experience of membership of Chester Music Society as a whole can be enhanced.

The Choir Committee is undergoing significant change at the end of the 2019-19 season as several members have decided to stand down:

  • Anna Steel (Social Media Co-ordinator)

  • Jon Banks (Publicity Officer)

  • Connie Telford (Cathedral Liaison)

  • Rob Greaves (Librarian)

Again, we have benefited from the superb enthusiasm and support of the membership to be able to offer the following as replacements All have been duly nominated and seconded.

  • Andy Ashton (Social Media Co-ordinator)

  • Lyn Cole (Publicity Officer)

  • Sue Aston (Cathedral Liaison)

  • Yvonne Preece (Librarian)

In addition, there are three members who wish to serve on the committee in an ex officio capacity. These are:

Rob Greaves

Jane Garratt

Rhiannon Jones

Can I have your support for all these nominations, please?

This leaves one area where we continue to lack formal representation to the committee: Stage Management. Since Roger Black’s resignation after Christmas, his inimitable shoes have been filled with spectacular aplomb by Steve Davies, Gareth Evans-Jones and their team of dedicated assistants. The job they have done has been brilliant. I know how much we have all appreciated their unstinting efforts and I thank them all for it. However, neither Steve nor Gareth wishes to serve on the committee given their other commitments, so this leaves a vacancy which remains to be filled. Further thought will be given to this as we move forward.

The past twelve months and the concert season they have encompassed has been a period of consistent success and improvement. Membership has remained strong at 161 singers and I am delighted to report that this includes several new and extremely gifted choristers. I hope that your commitment and enthusiasm has been matched by the warmth of the welcome you have received. We are delighted to have you aboard.

About this time last year, a substantial party was about to set forth on the Choir tour to Lisbon; our sincere thanks to Sue Eales and her team for organising such an outstanding and enjoyable event. Three concerts were performed: two in Lisbon, one in Leiria and all in beautiful Baroque buildings. Performances were universally well-received by audiences in excess of 700. This musical success was achieved in the face of some challenging diplomatic situations which largely revolved around the reluctance of Portuguese church authorities to allow access to their prized ancient organs. However, Graham Eccles proved that he can make sweet music out of an old tin can and all was eventually resolved. It was also a tour in which gastronomic and oenophilic proclivities were duly indulged ad many new friendships were forged, both within the Choir and with our charming hosts.

I will leave judgement of the quality of season’s concert output to our Musical Director whose qualifications in these matters are infinitely greater than mine. Suffice it to say that I believe that our performances have become stronger and more confident. we have received nothing but praise from both our audiences and those who have joined us on stage; whether we be performing the particularly English genius of Elgar, the complex tonalities and key changes of J S Bach or the sheer exuberance of Haydn. And Ian Macmillan and Luke carver Goss simply love performing with us. If ticket sales are anything to go by, then the paying public also like what we do. This season we have performed to audiences in excess of 2600. It was particularly pleasing to note that the sales for our May concert were so healthy. Many thanks to David Willis who organises our in-house ticket sales so superbly.

Our in-house charity this season was the Multiple Sclerosis Society. I know that they have found their relationship with us to be very worthwhile. Their representatives have thoroughly enjoyed the concerts they attended, and this association has greatly benefited their endeavours. I am not yet in receipt of the final figures which they raised, but it will be well in excess of £2000. I am pleased to announce that our nominated charity for the 2019-20 season will be Lymphoma Action.

We would achieve nothing at all without the superb and dedicated work of our Musical Director Graham Jordan Ellis who brings unparalleled musical wisdom, personal charm and wit to his leadership; the simply brilliant accompanying talent of Graham Eccles, and all of your committee who give so freely of their time, enthusiasm and expertise. On behalf of us all, many, many thanks to those committee members who are standing down: Anna, Jon, Connie and Rob. No matter how hard the terrain, you have all been willing to go the extra mile. Thank you so much.