There has always been a choir at St. Andrew’s for as long as I can remember. I know, because I used to sing in it! Without giving away too many clues as to my age, we’re talking about the 60s here (that’s 1960s!) and I can remember there being about five others in the choir apart from myself. There were the Cunningham brothers, Graham (about my age) and Trevor (a little older), a couple of rather elderly gentlemen whose names, I regret, I cannot remember, and a marvellous lady known always by her formal title as Mrs Lockwood who later went on to celebrate her 100th birthday. There’s proof that singing must be good for you!
Following my appointment as organist at the tender age of 14, the choir entered something of a “golden age” in terms of numbers and we had maybe 25+ young people on the books at any one time. Many of these were recruited from the Church Lads and Church Girls Brigades which were then very active in the church. From time to time we would also benefit from the presence in the choir of a singing student from the Royal College of Music. Father Johnson allowed them to rent rooms in the old vicarage at a reduced rate if they agreed to sing regularly in our choir!
Coming more up to date, for the last few years, before Father Martin’s arrival, we had a relatively small but very dedicated group of singers to lead our worship. We would hold a major choral service three times a year in church, at Christmas, Harvest and on Passion Sunday, usually calling on the choir of St. Alban’s, Cheam, to augment our own choir.
In the past year, our choir has undergone quite a marvellous renaissance! Numbers are on the up and we are now resplendent in red cassocks and white surplices. Once a month, on the first Sunday, we sing choral evensong and are steadily building up our repertoire of liturgical music. It is a great boost for the more long-standing members of St. Andrew’s Choir to be joined on occasions by singers from quite distinguished musical backgrounds. It is amazing how much more confident you can sound on your particular musical line if you’ve such a person singing alongside you! Our choral evensongs are usually followed by the supping of a glass or two of wine in the vicarage, and this social interaction is important in binding the choir together.
Recently we were able, for the first time, to take part in the Royal School of Church Music London Areas Choir Festival at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a most marvellous experience – I’m sure we’ll be back for more in the future!
The St. Andrew’s Choir is a most unusual organism. It involves singers from such musical backgrounds as King’s College, Cambridge, York Minster or the Choir of the Chapel Royal singing alongside singers with little or no formal music training. It’s a very unlikely combination – but it works! If you’d like to find out more and perhaps become part of this “organism” yourself, please see me (Trevor) at church or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org