Annual General Meeting: 3rd June 2017
1 Minutes of previous AGM
2 Matters Arising
3 Chair’s Report
4 Treasurer’s Report
5 MD’s Report
6 Elections for Committee: the following nominations have been received:
Chair Liz Harrison, proposed by DavidCottam , seconded by Michael Kay
Secretary Lorraine Hartley,proposed by Jenny Burns,seconded by Keith Bowden
Treasurer Keith Morphett, proposed by Richard Harrison,seconded by Maria Featch
Librarian Chris Hawkins, proposed by Michael Kay, seconded by Liz Harrison
Member Louise Barnard, proposed by Barbara Handy, seconded by Liz Hallmey
Member John Allinson, proposed by Jeremy Wheeler, seconded by Richard Harrison
Member Alison Murray, proposed by Liz Hallmey, seconded by Tina Reynolds
Member Lala Stryjak, proposed by P E Sands, seconded by Rita Taylor
Member Steve Bristow, proposed by Liz Harrison, seconded by David Cottam
Annual General Meeting ( Draft Minutes) 14 May 2016
Apologies were received from Veronica
The minutes of the previous AGM were accepted and agreed, proposed by Maria, seconded by Ruth. There were no matters arising.
Keith, as Treasurer, presented the accounts. Key points were that there was a slight improvement in our overall financial position due to the timing of the end of year and the disposition of the terms. Our Easter concert had made a profit, due to the excellent audience figures. Coffee breaks, especially when there is cake, continue to be a useful fund-raiser.
Points raised in discussion included other suggestions for charitable activity, such as giving public performances at no cost, and providing opportunities for young musicians
Acceptance of the accounts was proposed by Richard and seconded by Lorraine.
It had been an eventful year. We were very grateful for Ian’s support in helping us recruit a successor to Valerie. Her final concert and the celebration lunch were both great successes. We owed a serious vote of thanks to Tina, Lorraine and Liz. Although cancelling the visit from La Stephanelle was a disappointment it was inevitable. The choir survey had demonstrated that singers would prefer to sing earlier on Saturday morning and this had resulted in our change of venue. In her final year, Ali thanked Martin, for his continued support, Maria for the refreshments, Ian for regularly deputising, Chris for his work as Librarian and all the Committee.
Tina proposed a vote of thanks to Ali, which was carried by popular acclaim.
All nominations for the Committee were proposed en bloc by Rosie and seconded by Gay. The constitutional amendment allowing an outgoing Chair to continue to the end of the Summer term was passed, proposed by Ruth and seconded by Liz Husbands.
There was no other business.
The meeting closed at 11.15am
Report from the Chair
Musical Director’s Report
The last year has been very busy and productive within the life of Parenthesis. The appointment of a new Musical Director for a choir can feel an exciting opportunity for some members whilst others might feel more trepidation! I certainly did not hold back in my interview in confronting the choir with a very different style of leadership and ideas about the future for the choir. When I inherited musical leadership of the choir I felt that there were clear paths to aid the development and ‘reinvention’ of what the choir does, particularly broadening our membership and modifying the range of events the choir participates in to make them more relevant to its local area. I was in support of a change of venue for our rehearsals, which has given us a better and calmer start to Saturday morning’s. The church also has a good amount of space to rehearse in and has undoubtedly helped us make progress with our singing, aiding the sound we make without flattering ourselves.
We began in April with some Parenthesis favourites. I have done this with other groups before; it is perhaps not always the best way to start as old habits in the singing ‘die hard’ when working with well-known repertoire. Nevertheless, from week one there were green shoots of improvement. I saw that Martin (our wonderful pianist) felt positive about the strides that we were making, and when I had some weeks off to work with Garsington Opera, Ian Westley (who has been deputy extraordinaire over the past year) also helped develop what the choir was capable of. I very much believe in ‘the art of the possible’ seeing each ‘flaw’ in what we do as a ‘block’ to singing more naturally and freely. The choir responded to my pleas for a more ‘animalistic’ sound that is the sound which is most natural within our voices. I continue to keep telling everyone that I/we can only ‘culture’ the sound once we have the inner animal within us! We worked on the Parenthesis favourites for a very successful ‘flashmob’ style performance at The Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading. The performance was a huge success, not only representing an improvement in the sound and musicianship of the choir, but also acting as a springboard for future performances, with a bost in membership and general confidence throughout the choir. A lot of excitement was generated in the general public who saw us and even some press coverage. (http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/watch-reading-choir-stun-oracle-11532749)
We repeated this programme in September at the request of the centre, which was a huge boost to confidence again. We could clearly see more thrilled faces, and the choir coped extremely well having not had a rehearsal between July and September. This laid the groundwork for our December and February outings. In the autumn we rehearsed music for our February concert and added Christmas repertoire after ½ term for our Christmas events at The Oracle and Reading Station. The committee decided that moving our main musical ‘offering’ outside of usually congested performance periods (Christmas, Easter, Summer) would be a good idea for the audience and also give us further time to work at improving the capabilities of the choir. I fought hard to make the concert as challenging and musically satisfying as I could, and we agreed to secure funding to use a chamber ensemble for the Rutter ‘Psalmfest’ we had chosen for February. We performed the Vivaldi ‘Gloria’ in its reduction for piano and added oboe ‘obligato’ where necessary to add additional musical interest.
Christmas proved a busy time for the choir. I was not able to be with the choir for every performance but our work at The Oracle again was hugely well received. We had several comments asking if we were to regularly return to sing throughout the Christmas period. Undoubtedly it was an excellent venue, not least because in addition to raising funds for charity it boosted the profile of the choir whilst offering a warm and welcoming venue for the choir to sing in. I know this partnership will be continuing in the future and I am grateful to everyone who has helped it become a possibility. I know that we are likely to return in the coming year, perhaps with morning and afternoon sessions of carol singing! I am also extremely grateful to everyone who helped conduct and run the events I couldn’t be at. I know they also were extremely well received and will also have been an excellent ‘shop window’ for the choir.
When we came back from the Christmas we again gained some new members (some of whom had previously sung in the choir). The choir remembered much of the musical material from the previous term extremely well, and had ‘done their homework’ admirably. With five weeks to finish learning and perfecting the repertoire there was much to do. Slowly we ‘staggered’ through the movements of each of the pieces employing the new techniques for successful singing which the choir had been learning. The ‘Psalmfest’ is a huge musical challenge whether it is its extensive vocal range, or complex rhythmic patterns. The Vivaldi, although well know, has many pitfalls, not least of which is that it is well known, and perhaps not often sung with the vigour and sprite it needs to be a convincing for an audience.
The concert day came in mid-February and the choir had been lucky enough to rehearse in the venue the week before. One movement of the Rutter had proved a great sticking point, but the choir were motivated to overcome the challenge it presented. Throughout the year, the choir have put in a lot of personal practice, sectionals and general listening which has aided the improvement of the choir immensely. It is perhaps all too easy to overlook the individual and collective dedication of the people in the choir who organise all of this extra rehearsal time. I was stunned on the concert day by the transformation of the choir. I ALWAYS work them hard, and this has increased stamina and the quality of what each individual can achieve. Nonetheless, I was SHOCKED by the improvement, the musicians we employed were nothing short of outstanding in their rehearsal and performance of an intricate chamber scoring in the Rutter, whilst the choir continued to rehearse with dedication throughout three long hours to cement and perfect the finer nuances of the score. The confidence I could see from each individual as they realised six months of hard work in the performance was outstanding, and a transformation of the choir which I had inherited ten months before. The sounds that came from everyone truly mesmerised the audience and the hundred and fifty people who attended were truly treated to an excellent evening’s entertainment. No-one who performed left anything ‘in the locker room’, it was worthy of a good days play at the Madejski. (It’s not all music in this report!)
I was inundated with ‘fan mail’ from the choir, audience and more generally for the improvement in the choir. It was a success which everyone could share in and is a tribute to the power of good quality ‘community music’ making. It has certainly set the choir’s reputation higher, whilst also giving us a springboard for future projects. In the coming months we shall present a concert of music inspired by Britain, the countryside and weather, so something much more light hearted, and seasonal, whilst in 2018 we will embark upon a performance of Verdi ‘Messa da Requiem’ in March with South Chiltern Choral Society and receive La Stephanelle in July. At Christmas we shall visit The Oracle again, whilst our concert performance in February has garnered us the opportunity to perform ‘Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9’ with the Windsor and Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra.
I am immensely proud of the efforts of everyone with the choir and the choir community for making the projects we have tackled a success. The support I have received musically and administratively has been excellent and made my musical decision much easier. I am excited and enthused by the direction of the choir, its future and the next challenges ahead!