RSCM Area Chamber Choir at St Albans Cathedral December 2018

The RSCM St Albans, Hertford and Bedford Area Chamber Choir sang evensong at St Albans Cathedral on December 29th. The conductor was Chris Muhley and the organist was Nicholas King.

The music was:

Responses: Radcliffe
Service setting: Murrill in E
Anthem: Candlelight Carol ( Rutter )
Psalm 105, vv. 1-11
Hymn 52 (‘Glory to God’, tune Highwood)

ACF 2018 Report

107 singers attended the Area Choirs Festival at St Albans Cathedral on 13th October. Numbers being rather fewer than in previous years, the event was moved to the Quire, though this made for a much more cohesive and relaxed atmosphere.

Under the expert direction of Andrew Lucas, with Tom Winpenny at the organ, repertoire was drawn from this year’s RSCM King of Glory, King of Peace service book, covering a wide range from Renaissance to near-contemporary. Singers were provided with a copy of this excellent 186 page resource as part of the modest attendance fee and were enabled to purchase further copies for their choir libraries at cost price via the Area Committee, which represents a considerable saving for participating choirs. The Cathedral Choir, which led the event, also sang The Lord is my Shepherd by Lennox Berkeley.

During the service, certificates were presented to recent successful candidates in the Dean’s Award and Bishop’s Award. Hugh Morris, the new Director of the RSCM, came to present two Gold Medals to choristers from All Saints, Leighton Buzzard, and a Certificate of Special Service to Chris Muhley.

A selection of photographs from the event is reproduced below.

Your Committee was heartened by the generally positive response of the feedback forms which were received, though deeply disappointed at numbers attending, which were less than half the usual footfall (the more so as these included ten singers from choirs outside our area in Essex and Bristol, attracted by the notice in The Network). We had attempted to respond to previous comments that the spring or early summer are not favoured for the occasion, yet this change of date (constrained to some extent by the availability of the Cathedral during the autumn) did not generate any reaction from those who had expressed a previous preference for this time of the year, and seems to have put others off. As a result, a very substantial financial deficit was incurred, which severely constrains our financial resources for events in 2019.

Feedback about the service book and repertoire was almost entirely favourable; the only significant downside was from younger singers about encountering an item in Latin.

We noticed from the feedback forms that hardly any choirs had rehearsed the repertoire in their own churches, nor used it in their routine work. As the footfall for the regional rehearsals had only been just over half of those participating on the day, this meant that a large proportion of singers came without any prior preparation. This is a factor which we shall ponder in discussing any future Festival.

Comment was passed by some respondents that award recipients should not need to wait two years to receive their certificates at a Festival, and that we should arrange presentations at interim events. However, it is very unlikely that the Bishop or Dean could attend such occasions, even if recipients did (which on the evidence of the past two years is very questionable), and this step would only reduce even further the numbers attending to receive certificates from them at the Festival (there were only eight in each category present this year).

Given these issues, which reinforce disappointing numbers and financial losses at all other events during 2018, your Committee is anxious to hold conversations which will guide our future planning. We are therefore holding an open meeting early in the New Year to discuss a way forward for future events which will attract better support. This will take the form of an informal meeting at The Harpenden Arms in Harpenden on Tuesday 8th January from 8pm. The Harpenden Arms is on the corner of the High Street and Station Road, and within easy walking distance of Harpenden station.

We should be delighted to see RSCM members, choir directors and other interested people there for a get-together and a New Year drink. Please use the reply slip below if you are planning to attend, so that we have some idea of numbers, though you are also welcome to turn up on the day anyway. You are also welcome to use this slip to send us any comments.

RSCM St Albans, Hertford & Bedford Area

Area Choirs Festival 2018 comments

RSCM informal meeting : 8pm on 8th January 2019 at The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden

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ACF 2018 Photos

Some photos from the Area Choirs Festival at St Albans Cathedral

Area Chamber Choir weekend at St Albans Cathedral

The Area Chamber Choir again had the privilege of sing the services at St Albans Cathedral on Saturday September 8th 2018 (the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and Sunday September 9th. We sang Evensong both days and the Sung Eucharist on the Sunday morning.

We began by rehearsing in the Song School in the Deanery before moving down to the glorious acoustic of the Cathedral.











The music included
Saturday 8th Evensong
Rose Responses
Walmisley in D minor
Hymn to the Virgin (Britten)

Sunday 9th 11.15am Choral Eucharist
Darke in F
Sacerdotes Domini (Byrd)

Sunday 9th 6.30pm Evensong
Rose Responses
Stanford in B flat
Save us, O Lord (Bairstow)

as well as psalms and hymns.








It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and we are grateful to our director Chris Muhley and Nicholas King who played the organ, and to Helen Carter for her administrative work.

We will sing at the Cathedral again on Saturday December 29th.

Safari Evensong Report and Pictures

Singers preparing to rehearse at Chipperfield

An enjoyable Safari Evensong was held on the afternoon of Sunday 10th June, marking RSCM Music Sunday, in three rural churches of Rickmansworth deanery at St. Lawrence, Bovingdon, Holy Cross, Sarratt and St. Paul, Chipperfield. Some twenty singers from seven choirs assembled for a general rehearsal at Chipperfield before setting out in convoy to sing BCP Evensong in instalments at the three churches, finishing back at Chipperfield and concluding with a generous tea provided by helpers from that church.

Bovingdon Church

The music, chosen to suit those participating, centred around canticles in D by Charles Wood and the anthem O how amiable are thy dwellings, commissioned from Malcolm Archer for the centenary of St  John, Harpenden in 2004. Ferial responses were used, alongside psalm 15 and four hymns, the whole event also commemorating the Eve of St. Barnabas.


Roger Carter preparing to conduct at Sarratt

Roger Carter directed the choir, with Nicholas King at the three very different organs. Rev Charles Burch officiated at Bovingdon, and Rev Michele du Saire at Sarratt and Chipperfield; we are grateful to both for their positive support and encouragement of the venture. We were pleased to attract reasonable numbers in the congregations (including some who travelled round with us); at Sarratt, the event coincided with their Village Day and a flower festival at the church, enhancing the enjoyment of the occasion for all concerned.

Singers at Sarratt where a Flower Festival was being held














We received feedback which was almost unreservedly positive, especially regarding the choice of music and the relaxed atmosphere of the afternoon. There could have been a little more breathing space in what turned out to be quite a tight schedule; and although the intention had been to learn the music on the day, some would have welcomed a longer period to prepare. We take these (and other) points on board for planning a repeat event elsewhere in our Area.

Nicholas King


Nicholas King at the console at Chipperfield

At Chipperfield after evensong

Instrumental Workshop at Bedford - pictures

The instrumental workshop led by Miles Quick on May 2nd at The Holy Child & St Joseph  R C Church in Bedford was well attended.  The parishes represented were All Saints Church Kempston,  St Barts RC Church St Albans, St Mary the Virgin Stotfold , St Mary’s Wootton , St Peter de Merton Bedford,  St. Thomas of Canterbury Letchworth, and St Andrew’s Bedford as well as the home church,  The Holy Child & St Joseph.   The instrumentalists played violin, guitar, flutes, keyboard, clarinet, and saxophone and there were also a number of singers.  The church and their priest Father Seamus Keenan were very welcoming and hospitable. Feedback will be published in due course, but my impression was that everyone had a thoroughly good time.


Regional Choral Evensong at Holy Trinity, Leverstock Green


Rehearsal at Leverstock Green

Rehearsal at Leverstock Green


After the service at Leverstock Green



On April 22nd 2018 members of eight choirs in the region gathered at Holy Trinity, Leverstock Green to prepare and take part in a service of choral evensong. The music, taken from King of Glory, King of Peace, was largely new to many of the singers, but under the capable direction of Area Chairman Marie Price, the singers rose to the challenge of learning it in the two hours allocated for rehearsal. The accompanist was Nicholas King, who delighted us with his harmonies in Hyfrydol.

The choirs represented were: Holy Trinity, Leverstock Green; King Charles the Martyr, Potters Bar; RSCM Area Chamber Choir; St John the Baptist, Markyate; St Mary Ponsbourne; St Mary-at-Finchley; St Paul, Bedford; St Thomas, Stopsley. The music included Responses by Bramma, Canticles by Grayston Ives, Pitoni’s Cantate Domino and Bairstow’s Let all mortal flesh keep silence as well as a psalm and hymns. The Rev Lizzie Hood, Vicar of Holy Trinity officiated, assisted by the Rev James Reveley, Vicar of St Andrew’s, Bedford.




Area Chamber Choir celebrates ten years

The Area Chamber Choir celebrates ten years


After an “advanced singing” module at an area convention in October 2007, we were asked if any of us would be interested in forming a choir to take good choral music to churches in the diocese and sing occasionally at the cathedral. A number of us signed up and on 11th February 2008 we sang our first service, Choral Evensong at St Albans Cathedral, as the RSCM St Albans, Herts & Beds Area Chamber Choir.


Over the years a core of founder members have welcomed keen newcomers and have sung at several churches and annually three or four times at the cathedral. We sang our tenth anniversary evensong at the cathedral on February 10th 2018. The line-up included several founder members.

Throughout all this time we have been ably directed by Christopher Muhley, who has made every rehearsal fun as well as teasing our best singing out of us.

We have lost several of our regular members during the last ten years, some have moved away and, sadly, three have moved on to the celestial choir.

New members are always welcome and should contact us at


February 2008 


Christopher Muhley directed, Roger Carter played the organ and Kevin Goss was cantor.

The choir was:

Soprano: Pat Beach, Helen Carter, Judi Cornforth, Sandie Fenech, Gill Heath, Marie Price, Judith Reeve, Brenda Woodman and Christine Barron
Alto: Catherine Barrett, Stella Brooks, Sally Creedy, Brenda Harris, Pamela Shelton-Smith, Susan Sims, Anne Throup, Adela Walster and Kathy Westwood

Tenor: Stuart Brant, Derek Cann and Simon Creedy

Bass: Trevor Boyce, Peter Garner, Peter Hatswell, Andrew Howarth, Colin Innes-Hopkins, Andrew Long and John Wearmouth.

The music was: Byrd responses, Wood in C minor, Bow thine ear, O Lord (Byrd), Be thou my guardian and my guide and Psalm 51.


February 2018



Christopher Muhley directed, Nicholas King played the organ.

The choir was:

Soprano: Helen Carter, Alice O’Driscoll, Susan Sims, Gill Heath, Brigid Brennan, Judith Reeve, Gill Elliott, Julie Goodwyn, Helen McKay, Rosemary Knight, Pat Leggatt

Alto: Stella Brooks, Adela Walster, Catherine Barrett, Ruth Bardou, Kate Muhley, Susan Hare

Tenor: Rus Westmacott, Alex Courtney, David Scriven, Uday Tuladhar, Jeremy Goodwyn , Josh Pollard, Nicholas Hare

Bass: Peter Mackenzie, Kevin Scott, Michael Brooks, Paul Leggatt


The music was: Rose responses, Sumsion in G, Like as the hart (Howells), Love divine all loves excelling and Psalm 27 and 150.

'Reform and Renewal' workshop for singers

Around thirty singers gathered at St. John’s church in Harpenden on Saturday 23rd September for an afternoon exploring the new RSCM Reform and Renewal book.

This volume contains a wealth of material suitable for choirs of all ability ranges, and various suggestions of how these can be woven into an act of worship, as well as being used singly.




Ably directed by Chris Muhley and Marie Price, with accompaniments from Roger Carter and Nicholas King, much of the repertoire of the book was sung through, ranging from plainsong and Renaissance through to more contemporary offerings, including an attractively approachable setting of the evening canticles commissioned from Malcolm Archer for the book, and the more challenging fare of a setting of the Jubilate by William Mathias.  The emphasis was very much on becoming familiar with the contents of the book rather than on detailed rehearsal.


After a break for tea, a short act of worship took place, led with sensitivity by James Reveley, drawing on some of the items which had been looked at during the afternoon – and one which had not been, just to keep everyone on their toes.

We were very encouraged by the very positive spirit of the occasion, expressed in many warm comments on the feedback forms.  The stock of several dozen spare books which had been brought along sold out as participants purchased sets to take back to their choirs.



Our grateful thanks to Roger Carter for hosting the event, and to all who supported the afternoon.  Those who were not there missed a good occasion, which we shall seek to repeat in our future programme.

Nicholas King






We were pleased to receive 20 feedback forms from the event at Harpenden on 23rd September, representing two-thirds of the participants.  The overall nature of responses was very encouraging.  Here are the highlights.


What do you think of the idea of workshop days?

All responses were favourable, some in very positive terms.  Several people mentioned that it was good to sing with others, and to have a taste of new repertoire.


How did you find out about today’s event?

The majority had heard by e-mail and our web-site; a smaller number by word of mouth, just two on Facebook.  None mentioned Twitter or the flyer.


What did you think of the organization before and on the day?

Almost all responses were positive, including mention of on-line booking.  Easy enrolment and the welcoming atmosphere were also mentioned. The possibility of paying by Paypal was suggested.


What did you think of the choice of this workshop?

Again positive responses, including “huge fun”, “varied and interesting”, the use of new music (“varied” and “challenging”), good location, linking in with a new publication.


What did you think of the cost?

All respondents felt the occasion was good value, especially as it included the cost of the music book.  Several indicated that they would have been prepared to pay more.


Would you attend a similar event in future?  How often should we run them?

 All but one said “yes”, with proposals ranging from annual to quarterly.  Some indicated that this would depend on travel time to the venue, which they appreciated would differ from one occasion to another.


What other events would you like us to run?

There was a much more mixed bag of suggestions here, including some which we already offer (!) such as Regional Evensongs.  No single proposal attracted a significant vote, but Committee is taking all the suggestions on board and considering which may be more viable and attractive.


Any other comments?

Comments here were appreciative, coupled with regret that not more people had supported the event.  Again there were some isolated specific reactions which Committee will bear in mind when planning future events.


Your role/age range of participant

The entire attendance was adult, all but two of whom confessed to being 50 or older.  Only one participant declared as a choir leader and one as an organist; all others were as choristers/singers.


Would you be interested in becoming more involved with the work of your RSCM area?

 Disappointingly, there were no positive responses here.


We intend to provide feedback forms as an integral part of all future events.  They are very useful as an indicator to your Committee and as a guide to future planning, and we shall report back on their content.


Organists' Workshop at All Saints Luton


This event was held at the Church of All Saints, Shaftesbury Road, Luton on their fine Mander organ. There were 6 active participants from churches in Biggleswade, Campton, Eggington, Leverstock Green, Royston and Welwyn. Each player was offered advice by Roger Carter, mainly on aspects of hymn accompaniment such as the choice of introduction, the use of appropriate stops, rhythmic spacing between verses and how to adapt worship songs idiomatically to the organ. The workshop concluded with a look at ways into improvisation with material derived from hymn tunes.
Roger Carter