Newsletter - Spring 2023
Editorial I wonder how many of our members have been wondering when the latest edition of our newsletter was going to appear through the letterbox! This late arrival is not due to any oversight on my behalf but from a desire by our council to save on the very considerable postage costs incurred through a mail shot. Whilst many members are happy to receive communications electronically, including the newsletter, we have always taken the view that receiving a physical document through the post is greatly appreciated by the majority. Traditionally, there have been three mail shots during the year, comprising of the autumn newsletter, followed by the spring newsletter and finally the notice for the Association’s Annual General Meeting, usually held towards the end of June. By delaying the spring newsletter and including within it the AGM notice and documentation means we can make considerable savings on postage by now needing only two mail shots a year. In addition, Brendan in the office always buys up quantities of postage stamps in advance of any price rise and that in itself achieves a considerable saving. In these days of belt tightening we need to be aware of every opportunity to make the Association’s funds stretch further!
Goodbye and Hello Last February the cathedral marked the retirement of Dean Christine Wilson after six years of service. During this time she has been a keen supporter of our Association, chairing both council meetings and AGMs, where her friendly and helpful advice and input has been greatly appreciated. She has been the first woman Dean in the cathedral’s long history, and certainly has had to deal with a number of challenging issues, most notably those arising from the Covid epidemic. Of particular significance during her time have been the opening of the Old Deanery Visitors’ Centre and the completion of the restoration of the Romanesque Frieze and West Front, both of which have featured in previous newsletters.
One of my most striking memories of her is of the 202o Carols by Candlelight concert, where, apart from the Choir, she and I were the only other two people in the building. Addressing an empty nave, although knowing that my remarks would be carried far and wide through the live streaming service (partly funded by the Friends) was a strange experience, but she was there to cheer me on. I greatly appreciated her support once again at last year’s concert, where, in a particularly glacial cathedral, she insisted on surreptitiously sharing her hot water bottle with me during the evening! We wish her and husband Alan well for the future, and particularly for travels in their brand-new camper van. Goodbye and Hello-continued The cathedral community has given a warm welcome to the Revd Canon Dr Simon Jones, who has become the interim Dean of Lincoln. He took up office following Dean Christine’s retirement and will be with us until Christmas,
by which time a permanent appointment will have been made. Dean Simon is currently Chaplain and Fellow of Mer- ton College Oxford where, amongst other roles, he is responsible for the Chapel and Choral Foundation. The cathedral is very grateful to the Governing Body of Merton College for releasing him and our organisation has already begun a productive and ‘Friendly’ association with him.
Annual General Meeting. This meeting will be taking place on Saturday, 24th June, at 2.00 pm. in the Old Deanery Visitors’ Centre. Included in this mailing are documents for this meeting, comprising the notice and agenda, and also nomination forms for officers and membership of the council. As the terms of office for a number of council members will be entering their final year we do hope that others from our organisation will consider joining the council. The Treasurer’s report is included, and also notice of a proposal from the constitution subcommittee, approved by council, to alter part of the constitution with regard to elected officers.
Updates on Funding Projects Members will know that, in addition to our regular annual funding grants, we receive requests from different organisations within the cathedral to help with a number of projects. A recent, and most significant request, has been for the replacement of the heating in St Hugh’s Choir. The amount to be given-£160,000-is the largest grant the Friends had ever provided, and even this did not cover the full cost of replacing a worn out and dangerous system.
The full benefits will be felt later this year and will be greatly appreciated by those who had to endure last winter’s icy temperatures in the cathedral. The live streaming of services in St Hugh’s choir, which was also mostly funded by the Friends, continues to allow both the members of the cathedral community and the general public to participate in worship remotely. A smaller grant was also made to cover the cost of replacing the organ humidifiers, and a request has been received to cover the costs of reprinting the Journeys of Faith Guidebooks, which detail a number of long distance pilgrimage walks from different parts of Lincolnshire, with each one finishing at the cathedral.
Friends Christmas Card It seems rather strange to be thinking about Christmas cards this early in the year but, sadly, the Coun- cil decided at its recent meeting not to produce a Friends’ Christmas Card for this year. The volume of sales over recent years has been declining, resulting on a year by year financial loss. The results from last year’s collaboration on a joint card with the cathedral shop were also disappointing. It seems that fewer cards are being sent-possibly because of higher postage costs. There are considerable stocks of cards from previous years, which will be offered for sale at an attractive price from the office, at Friends’ events or through the website in due course.
The Events Committee After the difficulties brought on by Covid, when all events were cancelled, this committee has just started meeting again and hopes to arrange a programme of activities, beginning with three afternoon talks planned to take place during this November and in February 2024. A number of potential speakers are being approached, and it is expected that one talk will take the form of a report on the proceedings of the conference of Cathedrals, Abbeys and Greater Churches, which is taking place this October in Hereford. Although normally a bi-annual event, this will be the first confer ence to take place for some time and representatives from our association will be attending. In due course the committee hopes to arrange an annual outing, although price rises, particularly in transport costs, are a matter of some concern.
‘Carols by Candlelight’ In spite of the glacial temperatures referred to earlier in this newsletter, last year’s concert was particularly well attended. Whilst this was certainly a cause for celebration, not all the audience could clearly hear the wonderful performance given by the cathedral choir. At the suggestion of the Director of Music, this year’s event is expected to be held over two evenings, thus allowing a smaller number of tickets to be available on each evening, leading to a more intimate and fulfilling experience for those attending. We are most grateful for this offer, bearing in mind how busy the run up to Christmas is for the Choir.
The Friends’ Choral Scholar Our association has supported the funding of a Choral Scholar for some years and the current Scholar, Tom South, has kindly provided this article, writing about his growing up in cathedral music and his experiences as a Choral Scholar, previously at Worcester cathedral, and now in Lincoln, where this is his second year of scholarship. We wish him well as he prepares to read Music at Lincoln University. The story of how I became a choral singer really has to start with my Dad, Ian South, who was a boy chorister at Lincoln himself from ’84 to ’88, under the direction of Philip Marshall and David Flood. When I turned eight, my parents encouraged me to join the Scunthorpe Co-Operative Junior Choir, where I found that I really enjoyed singing as part of a larger group of people. When Dad suggested I attend an audition for the Cathedral Choir, I gave it my best go, not really expecting much, and not too keen at the idea of having to leave my school, and all of my friends there. However, being told I had passed the audition very quickly changed my mind on the matter, and off I went to join this whole new world. I spent four years as a boy chorister, and became a cope boy in my final year, during which time my sister Lydia joined the girls choir. By the time I was read out, I had been part of the recording of four CDs, three BBC live services, mentored two probationers, and been on one choir tour to the USA. Leaving the choir was something I looked upon with sadness, as I had come to discover that I loved the music I was singing, as well as the people I was singing it with. After leaving the choir, I moved onto singing wherever else I could. I joined my school’s chamber choir, the Cathedral Consort, and the Lincoln Chorale. By the time I began my SixthForm, I was able to re-join the Cathedral Choir as a Junior Bass Choral Scholar, singing one service a week alongside the Lay Vicars, Choral Scholars, and the Choristers, which also meant singing with my sister and my Dad, who had since become one of the two bass Lay Vicars. It was from during this time I decided that I wanted to sing in a choir for as long as I could, and started to consider choral scholarships over going university for my immediate future.
Tom, on the left, with fellow Choral Scholars Katie and Will.
In 201i9, after a string of auditions up and down the country, I accepted a year long Choral Scholar posi- tion at Worcester Cathedral , under the direction of Samuel Hudson. It was my first time striking off on my own, and I definitely believe that the choice I made was the best. I was singing the music I loved, alongside people who held exactly the same passion as I did, and having a good time doing so. Sadly, my time at Worcester got cut short by the COVID-19 Pandemic, but not before I accepted my next scholar- ship position: I was returning home, to Lincoln. Singing as a Choral Scholar in Lincoln, living with the other scholars, and spending time with my fellow singers on the back row have all contributed to make these last two years some of the best of my life. I have been given so many opportunities to improve my voice, particularly as a solo singer, as well as participating in a number of concerts, ranging from Han-del’s Messiah, to the “Pub to Pulpit” concert, celebrating the life and work of one of my favourite com- posers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. As I now prepare to move on to read music at university (at long last!), I hope to follow in the footsteps of the brilliant team here at Lincoln, and one day become a lay vicar in my own right, and to continue in the proud choral tradition that my father passed on to me. I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the Association of Friends, for their generous support and sponsorship these last two years. Tom South