Harleston Choral Society

Affiliated to Making Music






held on Monday 26 September 2016

at 7.00 pm in St John's Church, Harleston



Jo welcomed members to the AGM and declared the meeting open.



1.         Apologies for absence


Apologies were received from Lynda Austin, Linda Barden, Pat Holtom, Howard Jones, Zoe Pankhurst, Rachel Ritchie, and Winsome Rogers.


2.         Minutes of the last AGM (28 September 2015)


            On the proposal of Jenny Hyams, seconded by Malcolm Butcher,


                        the Minutes were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


3.         Chair's Report


Jo said that this will be her last year as Chair.  She felt that this past year has been a terrific one for us, tackling ever more challenging pieces and rising to that challenge.  The choir has been going for sixteen years now and its founder, Anne Gee, would be so proud of the way in which it has grown and progressed.  Both the Christmas ‘Messiah’ and the summer ‘St John Passion’ were splendid and very well received, and Jo felt privileged to sing with a group of people who work together and put so much effort into making a beautiful sound.   She hoped that choir members have all had an opportunity to look on the HCS website at the great pictures that Paul Cope took of the concert and rehearsals.


As well as the concerts and the regular practices, HCS put on a very successful Quiz Evening in March, which both raised money and was an enjoyable social occasion.  In May a well-attended workshop on the 'St John Passion' was organised, which proved really helpful preparation for the concert.


Putting on the concerts, setting up for the pre-concert rehearsals and erecting the staging, putting on the Quiz Evening and the workshop, running the practices and generally organising the choir involves a lot of people doing a lot of work and Jo said that she would like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful team of people without whom none of this would happen.  So, she gave many thanks to the following:


  • Chris, our brilliantly skilled conductor, whose vision has pushed us on to further heights and who works incredibly hard preparing music, CDs, and orchestral parts, as well as conducting the choir.
  • Nathaniel, our most generous patron.
  • Sheena and Pat for organising the orchestral musicians and soloists – not an easy task.
  • Bob and Jim and their merry crew who set up and dismantle the staging and prepare the church for concerts.
  • Margaret and Sheena for the always smoothly run front of  house arrangements.
  • Julia for organising the much-appreciated musicians’ teas, and acting as our very efficient Music Librarian.
  • Fiona for running the terrific raffle, which makes a lot of money.
  • Jenny for publicity, compiling the programme, and being a really efficient minutes secretary.
  • Maureen for being a great membership secretary and 'meeter and greeter', and to whom special thanks are due because she is retiring from the Committee.
  • Malcolm for being a wonderful treasurer.
  • Heather for designing and printing the posters, tickets and programmes.
  • Caroline for being such a supportive deputy chair.
  • Richard for being a lovely committee member/helping set up for practices.
  • Don for serving so judiciously on the committee.
  • Paul for running the wonderful HCS website
  • John for compiling the quiz questions and being an accomplished quizmaster.
  • Sheila for running the bonus ball, which is great for our funds; and for maintaining the HCS Friends.
  • Pat T and Carol for serving refreshments during our breaks.
  • Elsie for supplying the juice for the breaks.


Jo ended by saying that this was quite a list and not exhaustive - there are many choir members who help in all sorts of other ways and for that she thanked them, and looked forward to singing with the choir for the next year.


4.         Treasurer's Report


Copies of the annual accounts were distributed (a copy of these will be filed with the Minutes).


Malcolm said that during the year two very enjoyable and successful concerts were staged, with professional musicians and soloists.  The two concerts cost £7,481 to produce, and income from ticket sales, raffles and refreshments came to £2,262, so a net deficit of £5,218 was the result.  Ticket sales for the 'St John's Passion' were disappointing when compared to those of 'Messiah', but then 'Messiah' is hugely popular and

attracts a larger audience.


Income from subscriptions for the year came to £4,660 and gift aid was £814.  The bonus ball produced £206 and refreshments £218.   Subscriptions and the bonus ball income are down from the previous year.  The bonus ball has always been a popular weekly event, and Malcolm urged members to make a weekly investment in it and help raise more funds for the choir.  Member numbers fell in the Spring and Summer terms and that is why subscriptions are down.   It is encouraging to see  more members this term.


A very enjoyable quiz evening, with lots of good food, was held in March in St James Village Hall and made a net income of £335.   This is an excellent venue and hopefully something similar can be arranged again.


The overall result for the year was a deficit of £3,400 and so the funds accordingly are reduced and now stand at £9,738.  This is still a healthy amount of money to have in hand but there are two concerts planned for this year and a further deficit will occur because the concert costs always outweigh the income.  It would be desirable to continue to maintain a healthy financial position, and increased choir membership is one way of achieving that.   The choir now has over 50 members again now and this is the result of good music to enjoy and concerts to look forward to.


                        On the proposal of Richard Thomas, seconded by Jenny Hyams,

                                    it was agreed to accept the accounts.


5.         Appointment of Auditor


                        On the proposal of Jo Curry, seconded by Jenny Hyams,

                                    Mr Robin Farrar was appointed as Auditor for the year.


6.         Report by Musical Director


Chris began by saying that he echoed the thanks already expressed by Jo to everyone who has helped during the past year, and added his thanks to the Committee, and especially to Jo, with whom he has an easy,  efficient and supportive relationship.  He also especially thanked Pat and Sheena for fixing the orchestra for the concerts.

Chris said that the choir had two fantastic concerts in the last year: 'Messiah' was the best concert the choir has ever done; and the 'St John Passion' was musically the most challenging, and Chris felt that it was quite a phenomenal achievement, not least because the Bach was more difficult than the Brahms.  Chris has had some thoughts about the future and has always felt that it is his duty to push the choir into achieving greater things, but he suspects that some people don't like to be pushed, although the choir has a lot of positive people in it.  By challenging the choir more and more, better quality members are attracted to join, but may be the numbers dropped in the latter part of the year because people don't like Bach, or find it too hard.  Chris asked the choir to email him chris.bracewell@btinternet.com with any comments members would like to make about this.  He believes that we need more challenges – the music this term is easy, and the Mozart 'Requiem' next summer isn't a big challenge.


He drew parallels with his London choir, from which he has now retired as Musical Director, in that when he first took up post there the choir was singing eg Vivaldi's 'Gloria', but by the end of his time there, the only piece of music they hadn't done was Walton's 'Belshazzar's Feast'. 


Chris congratulated the choir on a fantastic year, and looked forward to the next.


7.         Report by HCS Patron


Jo reported that although Nathaniel Gee had not produced a written report, he has given ongoing support to the choir, and a further generous donation.  He hopes to sing with the choir at the Christmas Concert.


8.         Election of Officers and Committee for the year 2016/2017


Jo informed members that there were now two, not three, vacancies on the Committee, because Don Rogers has agreed to stay on.  Therefore,


(i)        On the proposal of Jo Curry, seconded by Caroline Rodbourne,


                        it was agreed to elect Joanna Barfield to the Committee, with the role of                                                          Membership Secretary.


(ii)       On the proposal of Jenny Hyams, seconded by Malcolm Butcher,


                        it was agreed to elect Carol Hammond to the Committee, with responsibility

                        for the HCS Friends.


9.         Friends of Harleston Choral Society


Sheila Austin reported that the number of Friends is dwindling, but as agreed at an earlier Committee Meeting, it is not cost-effective to recruit new Friends – each Friend receives three tickets for each concert, ie £30-worth of tickets per concert, for an annual subscription of £20 per person.


11.       Any Other Business


Next Committee Meeting:  Wednesday 19 October, 7.00 pm, at the Butchers' house.  The agenda and directions will be sent out the week before the meeting.




Jo thanked everyone for attending the AGM, and declared the meeting closed.








Signed ….................................................................................  Date …..............................................