Saturday, 25th November 2023

The second choir rehearsal on 25th November was a very busy occasion.

Between the rehearsal sessions, members had the opportunity to purchase Christmas novelties: the stage was filled with a variety of handcrafted gifts supplied by local artisans and choir members. During the lunch break, Katharine Pinfold sold her farm produce to those who had pre-ordered items.

Fifty-six (!) fully correct entries to the Musical Alphabet Quiz were received, which led to a drawing of the winning numbers for the five prizes. Two of the prizes were won by members of the choir and three by members of the public who had purchased their copies of the quiz from retailers in and around Penrith.

The proceeds raised from these initiatives will boost the choir’s funds towards the costs of the concert.

The AGM was held during the morning. As well as electing two new trustees - Felicity Payne and Carl Thomson - members voted to appoint Vic Watson as an Honorary Vice President. Vic has had a long association with Cumbria Rural Choirs and more recently Cumbria Singers, but has recently decided to retire from singing due to failing health. He is delighted to have the opportunity to maintain his connection with Cumbria Singers.

Vic writes:

I joined Cumbria Rural Choirs in 1970 and sang in my first concert in 1971: “The Dream of Gerontius”, under the direction of Charles Groves. I joined the Committee on 1st December 1972 as Ullswater-with-Calthwaite Choir Representative.

Ullswater Choir was founded from that group in 1976. I sort of acted as Vice Chairman some time later but never did anything, as the Chairman, Lionel Knottley (a CRC Founder), never missed a meeting. Lionel retired in 1982 and I was elected as Chairman in September of that year. Sadly, I missed the first concert of my tenure, Bach’s “B Minor Mass” under Paul Steinitz, as I was totally unprepared after a bad attack of flu. It is the only concert I have missed prior to Covid. However, I made it to the concert as a member of the audience. We entertained Paul overnight at our house after a joint rehearsal, and also had other soloists to stay with us following performances.

I resigned in October 1991. During the speech, at which I was presented with a Cumbria Crystal bowl, the secretary, Pat Williams, made reference to Sheila’s famous cheese scones which the Committee enjoyed after a meeting squeezed into our rather small living room.

Only the dreaded Covid spoilt my 50th anniversary concert in 2021.

What did I leave behind/ achieve as a legacy?

To start with I am quite proud of the fact that (apart from the Messiah (obviously!) which one sang as an extra money maker) we did not sing anything twice in my ten years. On two occasions, we sang two new works in the same programme. We did, however, repeat works from the first 30 years, notably Bach’s “St Matthew’s Passion”.

On the non-musical side, for a while I arranged for and sold CRC polo- and sweat-shirts. I don’t know how much money they raised, but several can still be seen today. Sheila and I have half a dozen between us!

Since then you will know that I kept busy with the Ullswater Choir, which I founded and which, sadly, no longer exists. Possibly Covid did for that too?

After the first concert of the Cumbria Singers, it became obvious that I could not continue in safety, so, as you know, I have retired. I shall continue to support Cumbria Singers as long as I am able. Good luck and best wishes to you and it.

Sincerely yours, Vic Watson

Andrew led the rehearsal with his usual energy and dynamism. He reminded the choir that even with all the distractions of the oncoming festive season, they should use every opportunity possible to continue to rehearse using the on-line resources.

A lively day was enjoyed by all!