Managing a large amateur choral society isn’t easy at the best of times. Coordinating the voluntary helpers who get the show on the road, keeping singers, professional musical director and audiences alike satisfied and avoiding going into the red could be described as just the tip of the baton. Add the threatened amalgamation with a “rival” choir, and it could easily break a novice Chairman without an overriding passion for music and the requisite sense of humour. The story of my first year at the helm of the choir - September 2008 to September 2009 - features the music itself as a central character, frequently saving me from being overwhelmed by the heavy responsibilities as I grapple with its power to challenge and frustrate and yet entertain, exhilarate and move. Within the structure of the familiar choral year, a range of related activities takes centre stage from time to time: orchestral and choral concerts, workshops, festivals, meeting musicians and trying to become one by belatedly learning the piano and music theory. Rather than turning me off music for good, the year’s saturation leaves me singing out for more.
If you enjoy choral or classical music in whatever shape or form - as a participant, listener, professional or amateur - please take a look inside, but expect to be entertained rather than educated! If you're involved in organising a group of people in whatever sphere of life, it's probably more relevant still. I hope you enjoy my year as much as I did.
A Year of Living Musically (ISBN 9781849140287)