Southwell Minster Choir Association

SMCA celebrated 25 years in 2015. At 11.00am on Saturday 24th June 1989 a meeting was held in the Great Hall "to establish a Southwell Minster Choir Association" which "would act as a support group to the Choir". Mr Andrew Johnston, Lawyer, agreed to draft a constitution, and "a practicable income would be an annual subscription, initially, of £8 for individual membership, or alternatively, of £12 for family membership".

Over 25 years the association has grown and has indeed supported the Cathedral Choir in many and varied ways: annual social and leisure visits for the choristers; singing lessons; biennial tours abroad; presented the annual showcase for the choir, the St Cecilia Concert; the annual concert series of ‘Music in the Great Hall’; the annual Christmas card; and the ‘Messe Solennelle’ CD project at Sées Cathedral. Latterly, SMCA has granted support to a number of projects – involving the Girls’ Choir: a Christmas skating trip; their first CD release ‘Christus Rex; their latest CD 'Sing we of that Mother Blest' released in 2016; and the funding for the composition of an Easter anthem. It has supported the Minster Chorale, funding the composition of ‘St Mark Passion’ by Guy Turner.

SMCA presented a 'Come and Sing Vivaldi' event held on 25th February. Nearly 200 singers enrolled for the workshop and performance, led by Neil Page with Simon Hogan (organ) and soloists from the Minster Girls' Choir. It was a resounding success, the third such 'Come and Sing' event arranged by SMCA.

St Cecilia Concert

This 2017 St Cecilia Concert in Southwell Minster paid tribute to two giants of British music – Benjamin Britten and Francis Jackson.

The concert was held on Friday 13 October at 7.30pm and featured the Southwell Minster Choirs, with conductor Paul Provost, Rector Chori, and organist, Simon Hogan.

Paul said: “Britten’s work is well known across the musical world – as a composer he took in all of the major genres from chamber music to symphonic music, opera, choral music, song, and much more.

“His setting of text is particularly impressive, and from his relatively small church output we have chosen three masterpieces. Rejoice in the Lamb sets words by Henry Smart in praise of God. The curious and sometimes bizarre nature of the text is said to mirror Smart’s psychological state, and indeed the whole poem Jubilate Agno makes for strange reading, but Britten creates from it a coherent and exciting short cantata. Again, in the Hymn to St Cecilia, words by W.H. Auden, Britten’s sensitivity to text is at the fore, in particular demonstrating musical effects such as violin, trumpet and timpani. Completing the set is the exuberant Jubilate Deo in C, a masterful setting of Psalm 100.”

The second half of the concert saw a rare performance of a major work by Francis Jackson, who is 100 years old this October.

Paul continued: “Daniel in Babylon sets seven scenes from the life of Daniel in dramatic form, each concluded by a motet to words by John Stuart Anderson. Indeed, it was he who was the first narrator of this ‘monodrama’, so called because a single narrator expounds the text to organ accompaniment. One could consider this to be a sort of filmic event: story underpinned by music reflecting the drama. We were particularly excited to perform this during Dr Jackson’s centenary year, and hope that you enjoyed experiencing this unusual but exciting musical work.”

Proceeds from this concert supported the work of SMCA.

Join the SMCA

Why not become a member of SMCA, and give further support to this unique Choral Foundation which is at the heart of the Minster’s worship? Although a subscription costs more than in 1989, it is now even more valuable in helping to maintain a living tradition, described by George Herbert as his "heaven on earth".

Details from: Michael Davidson (Secretary, SMCA) m.d46@btinternet.com or phone 01636 813840