Whitehall Choir Committee meeting 11 June 2007, 6.15pm
Present: Samantha Foley, Ken Holmes, Malcolm Todd, Moira Purkiss, Laurence Grace,
Colin Altman, Rose Chandler, Ruth Eastman, Kate Goulden
Apologies: Jonathan Williams, Paul Spicer, Martin Humphreys, Rachel Salisbury,
Miranda Douce, Nicola Kirkup
1. Minutes of last meeting
Come and Sing 2007: the flyer was nearly ready. Both flyer and website would need to
make clear the specific edition that would be used.
Accompanist: James Longford would start playing for us in September and would also
play for the Come and Sing. He may not be available for the Saul concert in November.
CD marketing: Thanks to Ruth and Martin the press release was nearly ready for
distribution to a list of radio stations and magazines. Reviews were expected from the
Gramophone (in September/October) and the Bruckner Society. It was suggested that we
seek to have the Spicer played on Radio 3 CD Review action Ruth/Kate
New committee members co-opted: Ruth Eastman was welcomed back to work on
publicity/CD sales and Nicola Kirkup as DTI rep.
Kate Ashbridge: This year’s Carol Concert would be dedicated to Kate’s memory. Her
parents had been invited to request a favourite carol and would attend – as would work
2. July concert
The programme was in hand (Rachel/Anne) and tickets on sale – also through the
orchestra. Numbers on stage were tight but under the limit so OK. The choir had
welcomed a new tenor and Sam reported that Paul was looking, ideally, for one more.
3. Financial Report
Ken provided draft financial reports predicting a final deficit of £1,400 (rather than the
£4,500 originally predicted) thanks to a lower than expected call on the General Fund for
both the CD (£3,900) and professional costs on tour (£1,100), as well as greater CD sales
than expected (£1,500).
The committee agreed that these CD profits should be used to repay the £1,500 grant
from the Jubilee Fund.
The choir’s subscription to Just Giving would now be closed after the minimum six
month period. Action Ken.
4. Choir numbers/membership/leave and sabbatical arrangements
The choir is currently at maximum numbers. However there is constant pressure from
new singers wanting to join the soprano and alto sections in particular. Part reps have
received, and continue to receive, requests for maternity leave and study/work
The committee discussed the subject at length and agreed the following policies which
we believe provide fairness and some flexibility whilst ensuring viable numbers in all
parts. The following gives a summary of the new guidelines (and individual
circumstances should always be discussed with part reps in the first instance):
Maternity: maternity leave of up to one year (three terms); payment of 50% subscription
will guarantee a place for those wishing to return, with no audition. (As not all members
return after maternity leave, (we understand that plans change), the committee agreed to
carry the risk of filling a proportion (around 50%) of places left by maternity leave
immediately from waiting lists.)
Sabbatical: place can be held for absence of one term (only) with prior notification. No
re-audition required but full payment to continue. For any longer absences members
would have to join others on the waiting list auditioning for entry.
Choir numbers/Auditions: Potential new members for the Choir will continue to be told
in advance the limited number of places available when auditioning.
Given the frequent examples of the soprano line dividing more than others, the committee
decided to change overall Soprano/Alto numbers from 24/24 to 26/22. Tenor and bass
(practical) numbers should remain unchanged at 12/18 (although with the option of
increasing tenor numbers should more tenors wish to join.) Action Part Reps.
This continues to give a Choir max membership of 78, which in turn tends to give us a
singing strength of around 65 at each concert, and which is the maximum numbers we
can accommodate at a venue such as St John’s, Smith Square.
The committee also discussed possible criteria for - and increasing the frequency of - re-
auditions. Sam to discuss with Paul over the summer.
5. Future concert venues
English Secular Music: We have option of reserving the Banqueting House for this
concert for reduced cost (no venue hire charge, but in return concert receipts retained by
venue) on Monday 7th July 2008. (This option is being pursued further by Sam/Monica).
Monteverdi Vespers: We require a church with gallery for this concert. Several venues
still under consideration including St Paul’s Knightsbridge, Holy Trinity Clapham (Ruth
to investigate), Westminster Cathedral and Christ Church, Spitalfields. Although
relatively expensive, the Spitalfields venue is the most promising and its slightly higher
than normal costs would be balanced out over the Season by use of the Banqueting
House. (Being followed up by Sam/ Lis Warren – negotiation of a reduction in hire costs
is being pursued)
The Committee recorded its thanks to Monica and to Lis for their continuing efforts (and
negotiating skills!) in finding us new viable options for future venues.
6. Gentlemen’s concert attire
The use of black shirts on tour had generally met with approval from the gentlemen – and
indeed from the ladies – of the Choir. Both Pauls had strongly preferred this option.
The committee decided that this term we would stick to traditional attire (with the option
of removing jackets) and the issue of a ‘summer uniform’ going forward would be
discussed at the AGM. (Action Sam/Jonathan).
7. Arrangements for AGM
Agenda and call for nominations for committee posts to be issued. Returning Officer to
be appointed. (Action Sam; Philip Pratley has kindly agreed to fulfil this role.)
8. June 2008 visit to Winchester
A tentative booking has been made with St Cross, Winchester, (and with Paul and James
Longford) for the weekend of 21/22 June 2008. The plan would be for a late
afternoon/early evening concert (possibly a Come and Sing style event in part) allowing
those who wished to return to London to do so – i.e. low cost/high inclusivity. Those
wishing to could stay over for some tourism (and more music?) on Sunday.
Accommodation would be each individual member’s responsibility. If the church was
content, the programme would be excerpts from the secular music programme and some
party favourites – additional rehearsal(s) may be necessary. (Sam to take forward; Ian
Williamson to kindly continue his liaison with the Church)
9. AOB and future meetings
Sam/Ken were liaising with Paul S and the orchestra fixer regarding the slightly unusual
requirement for carillon bells in the Saul programme. The Ritz Hotel has confirmed its
booking of the Choir for Xmas 2007; specific dates to follow shortly.
AGM 10 July, 6.30pm St Stephen’s Church, Rochester Row.
Meeting closed at 8.45pm