Notes from the AGM 2012

Festival Chorus Annual General Meeting July 2012


12 Earlsfield Road

Committee Apologies;  Felicity Ellacombe,  Ann Pettifer and Charlotte Simon.

Choir apologies ; various


Minutes of last year’s AGM read and approved. (Nominated by Libby Spurrier and seconded by Trevor de Cruz)


Chairman’s Report

Another year – welcome to the 2012 AGM of the Festival Chorus. Once again we are enjoying the hospitality of Jan Passey. I would like to thank her very much for allowing us to hold our meeting in such pleasant surroundings.

Though it is scarcely believable that another year has passed, I think we can certainly look back with pride and pleasure. Our three concerts demonstrated the Choir’s versatility, ranging as they did from the 17th century with Purcell, through to a programme devoted to works composed in the last decade; from Britten’s St Nicholas – a real highlight – and here, I would like to thank Alison Benton and the St Luke’s Junior Choir for their part in making that particular concert such fun – to works by Dove, Chilcott and Cecilia McDowall where I think we may have surprised ourselves – and perhaps,  our audience. All our concerts this season – indeed this year – have celebrated British composers and we now look forward to bringing this theme to a close with Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in the autumn

Last year I reported that we had formed a small Programme Committee – David, Antony, Robert Greenish, Libby Spurrier and myself. I am happy to say that we have now met and are actively planning future concerts. Sadly we will be losing Robert Greenish who is (temporarily) moving to South Africa. I would like to thank Robert for his contribution to the choir – taking part rehearsals, stepping in as accompanist or conductor . Thank you – we look forward to his return. Both Elspeth Wylie and Peter Dannheisser have agreed to join us – exciting suggestions will be the order of the day since Peter is active in encouraging us to commission works as well as drawing attention to interesting programmes being performed. But ideas are not exclusive and we would very much like to hear if you have ideas you think might be good for our repertoire or that you would like to perform – or perform again.

It is one thing to have ideas. It is another to get them to performance. We have to thank David Fawcett, our Musical Director, for his commitment to getting us to perform to the very best of our ability, and for encouraging us to move out of the “comfort zone” of the familiar to try something new.  We have also benefitted from his role as Musical Director at St Mary’s Balham – a alternative rehearsal space, and even somewhere for meetings. All our concerts benefit from excellent soloists and often orchestral accompaniment. That we are able to enjoy performers of the calibre of Katie Hill, Patricia Orr and Paul Sheehan is very much down to Antony Lewis-Crosby. I have to thank him for his tireless commitment to the Festival Chorus, ensuring we get the best. His knowledge and experience are invaluable as we move forward.

Organising a concert does not just happen. There is the staging – where would we be without the genius of Tim Sanders- Hewitt, who together with Robert Wood, puts so much effort into ensuring the choir, the orchestra, the soloists – the conductor – and the audience have the best possible experience. I think we can see this from or last performance in the care with which the lighting (often a point of contention)b was rethought. An important feature of all our concerts is the bar – impossible without our resident bar person, Pippa  McDonald, who is so much more – Committee secretary, part rep. organiser of part rehearsals – and my particular rock. Thank you. Then there is Mary who ensures we have the wine and all other refreshments. This includes providing for our parties – we have 3 a year, and, of, course the AGM. And we must thank all those who hosted parties for us, Angie and Terry, Lesley Connors to name some. Of course after our last concert, we stayed in the church for the really enjoyable BBQ. An enormous vote of thanks to Libby Spurrier who not only suggested it, but then organised it. I would also like to thank all of you who have over the past season volunteered to help set up staging, man the bar or front of house, take glasses to wash – and in the case of Saturday contributed delicious brownies. Such help is invaluable.

Every performance needs publicity. Over the past season Anne Pettifer, ably assisted by Mette Ahorlu, has ensured posters are put up round the community and that we constantly look for opportunities to promote the choir through the press and elsewhere. They are active in exploring possibilities for encouraging advertisements for the programme; please, do think of us if you know anyone who might like to take this opportunity. As you know, our programmes are always interesting and well designed – and very good value; thank you Richard for all the work you put into them. However, we are always glad to generate income from adverts; if you know anyone or any organisation who might be interested do contact Richard. I am happy to report that we have made very real progress in developing the website. As you know we have to thank Josie Ellis for all her time and effort in getting our front page up to date and presentable. However, we have moved on to a more flexible format – a “blog” setup; Felicity has been the moving spirit behind this development – and very warm vote of thanks is due. This will allow us to not only add new material all the time – newsletters, reports, programmes – and also will allow, you, as members to comment. These will be moderated by the committee but we hope you will both appreciate and make use of it. Work is being done so that the website which will remain as our front page will link automatically to the new format – if you want to look it is www.thefestivalchorus.wordpress.comWe are fortunate, as a Choir, to enjoy relative financial stability. Heartfelt thanks to Charlotte, our Treasurer who keeps a close eye on all our plans to ensure we do not go too mad. However, as her report will highlight, our costs have risen over past couple of years. As a result, the Committee after much deliberation, have (reluctantly) decided that from next season our subscription will rise to £75, Concessions will remain, of course, and members will still get their music and their tickets. I am sure everyone will agree we are good value. This move will ensure that we can continue to include ambitious concerts in our plans. However, we are a community choir and the committee are clear that noone should feel disadvantaged. If there is a problem do not hesitate to talk to a Committee member – or Charlotte. We are also raising the price of our tickets – though again, I believe they offer great value for money. We continue to perform out of St Luke’s and would like to thank the Church for its support – such a wonderful setting. You will have noticed the new smart chairs available for the orchestra and soloists. We were pleased to be able to contribute to their purchase. We also continue to perform two of our concerts as part of the SLMS season – an association that I believe is both of value and enjoyed by all. Indeed, this year Choir members had the possibility of taking part in the concert production of Die Fledermaus organised by Derek Carden. Enormous fun – I am sure other such opportunities will arise. Derek, of course, is familiar to the Choir and our thanks go to him for all his support – taking rehearsals, providing the organ or harpsichord accompaniment.It has been a busy year. We look forward to the next, but there have been some changes in the Committee. Anne Pettifer has decided to step down but Mette Ahorlu has agreed to take on the Marketing role – we will be welcoming her on to the committee in a moment. Richard Harries has also decided to step back from being Tenor Rep (though he will continue to manage the programme), Robert Wood has agreed to take his place a part rep.

Music Director’s Report


David thanked Ferelith for her unstinting support throughout the year. He described his relationship with the choir as excellent and really appreciated the firm financial footing on which he and the committee were able to plan the future each year. He went through the year reporting on the successes of our various concerts.

He reported on the progress he felt the choir was making by setting up the Programming Committee and thought it would lead to a wider repertoire and the inclusion of more ideas from the choir itself.



Accounts for the year April 2011– April 2012 Treasurer’s report


I am sorry not to be at this meeting in person but I arranged my holiday before I realised that it would clash so am up a mountain in Austria leaving Pippa to read this report. Thanks to her for doing this. I would also like to thank Chris Birchall for once moreHe auditing our accounts for which we are very grateful


There is no denying that it has been a tough year for the finances of the choir. The huge majority of our income is from choir subs and, although the concerts we have done in the last year have been interesting and varied they haven’t been the big popular works which generate a large choir and thus a large income. I have great hopes for Gerontius in that respect so please, tell your friends to come and sing with us this autumn! The reduced choir numbers has meant a drop in income from subs of approximately two and a half thousand pounds. We also have an increasing amount of choir members paying a reduced amount. Whilst we are very happy to support those who genuinely cannot afford to pay the full subscription it is worth noting that in Spring 2012 36% of the choir paid the concession rate or less. With all of this in mind the committee has decided to increase the termly fee from September by £5. We will also be increasing the ticket price but have no plans to make any changes to the three free tickets given to each choir member.


So, onto the main changes in the expenditure part of the accounts. The figure for Hire of Halls has risen substantially but this is partly due to St Luke’s billing us late for one of the 201/11 concerts so this is included in this year’s accounts. If this was not the case then the figures for 2011 and 2012 would be much more even. We have started using St Mary’s for Saturday rehearsals which is slightly cheaper than St Luke’s, especially as St Luke’s have just sent notice of a further increase in our hourly rate. Whilst I am talking about St Luke’s I should mention that the donation of £500 further down the column was money that we gave to the church towards new chairs for the orchestra after the blue ones were disposed of as they did not conform to Health & Safety standards.


We spent more this year on Other Concert Costs. This covers the fees for David and Elspeth and is therefore partly dependent on the length of the rehearsal season since we pay Elspeth on a per rehearsal basis. We are also paying her to play for part rehearsals. We pay David monthly by standing order so his costs vary less!


The price of sheet music for recent works is always high as they are not yet out of copyright and so the costs for this year were high since we sang both twentieth and twenty first century pieces. As you know, whatever the price of the music, the cost to the choir remains the same which means that the amount we have to go towards the other items of expenditure varies each term.


Other costs were similar although our membership of Making Music increases each year as do the insurance costs.


Turning to the balance sheet I hope everything here is fairly self-explanatory. Although we still have not received an invoice from St Luke’s for the March concert the amount we are expecting to pay has been included under Accruals. Fees received in advance include the Dido and Gerontius sheet music which we bought last summer when we were able to get a small discount. Felicity is looking now into buying music for next year.


HSBC is still offering very low rates of interest in common with most other banks. However, it is not very easy to move a business account chasing interest rates and, since I work full time, I don’t have time to keep looking for other ways in which to invest the money we have. If there is anyone who would like to look into this for me I would be very happy to accept their help.


I hope this covers the main areas about which you may have questions. If there is anything else that you would like to query please do ask a member of the committee for my email address and get in touch – I will be happy to try to help.


Charlotte’s report was read by Pippa McDonald



Ann Pettifer has resigned  and Mette will continue with the marketing and publicity.

Richard harries will continue to produce the programme and Robert Wood was elected on to the Committee (nom by Sarah Mildred and 2nd by Charles Ellis



There was a request that the dress code for the summer concert to be clarified. The Programming Committee promised will decide on dres that suits the pieces chosen.

Tim thanked his stage team who work so hard to set up and remove all the staging.

Trevor asked that the AGM minutes be circulated earlier and FH promised to email them round to everyone.

There was discussion about ticket allocation and it was decided that for the next concert only, 2 tickets should be allowed for each choir member.



Ferelith closed the meeting and thanked Jan for her hospitality.


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