Music News - July 2021

Img 2760-800Despite, and in some cases because of, the continuing restrictions imposed on musical life by Covid-19, it has been a busy time for the SMMA. Extra work behind the scenes has included, for example, endless risk assessments to ensure that safeguarding is still robust with the new focus on online working, and that the latest set of guidelines has been met.

The Spring Guidance limiting amateur choirs to a maximum of 6 singers indoors brought surprise and disappointment to choirs throughout the country, and led to the last minute cancellation of the plan for the Family Service on 16 May to be led by the Junior Choir. Accordingly adult choir rehearsals have remained on Zoom, though the Juniors have managed at least 1 indoor practice, and singing at Sunday services has been restricted to 6 members of the adult choir. However, groups of up to 30 people can sing outdoors, so an Adult Choir rehearsal is planned in the churchyard for later in June, weather permitting.
Meanwhile, as Juniors move on to become Choral Scholars, vacancies have become available in the Junior Choir, and Joyful Noise will be re-starting in the autumn for our youngest musicians with Lizzie Bennett very kindly taking this on. A recruitment event will be running on Saturday 3 July from 3 to 5 pm for both the Junior Choir and Joyful Noise. The SMMA has produced a short video to support this event. The link is:

Although the Brass Group has to remain in abeyance for the present, there has been significant progress in relation to the Michael Swindlehurst Organ Scholarship, which has the support of both St Mary’s and Wendens Ambo. Information about this opportunity has been sent to Heads of Music in local schools and colleges, and several potential scholars have already expressed an interest. The closing date for applications is 1 July, with auditions and interviews on 11 July. Further information can be obtained from Oli King at

Partly as a lockdown project, Peter De Vile has edited and updated the leaflet about St Mary’s organ. He and Jim Butler have produced a new 8 page booklet which will be printed shortly, the cost being split between the SMMA and a private donation. It is hoped that the booklets will be sold at £1 each, probably to visiting groups of organists, and that the church will take on responsibility for the booklets in due course. Looking after an instrument as large and temperamental as a church organ is a complex process. For example, ours has been badly affected by the long period of dry weather in the spring, but the onset of rain, and Peter’s ongoing ministrations, have solved the problem.

As unlocking continues, we are still hoping that the Choir will be able to lead a “Come and Sing” Faure Requiem (Hill’s arrangement) on Sunday 25th July, accompanied by harp, violin, cello and organ. Now that the organ has been fixed, the most difficult logistical aspect has been transport of the harp, though this has now been organised. The event is intended to be a fundraiser for church funds, so there will be a £15 participant fee for adult singers, with a retiring collection for the audience. Under 18s can listen, or sing, for free. The performance will be at 5.15pm.

Ottilie Lefever