Meet the Director

Lindsay GrayWe were delighted to welcome Lindsay Gray, the Director of the Royal School of Church Music, to the St Albans Area on Wednesday 18th November. The venue was the Church Hall of St Stephen’s, St Albans, and a group of loyal affiliates gathered to hear Lindsay speak eloquently about his own life – the background which brought him to his current position – and that of the Royal School of Church Music at large.

I suspect a number of folk were unaware that we partly have Lindsay to thank/blame for the career of Charlotte Church, as she was briefly a chorister in the Girls’ Choir in Cardiff Cathedral which Lindsay helped establish. We heard of the organist adding a cheeky tremulant to the accompaniment for her valedictory Nunc Dimittis solo, which was sung complete with characteristic vibrato.

Lindsay expanded on the musical activities he carries out: conducting, singing, playing, management and education. He stressed the need to get individuals involved in music at an early stage, to look for innate skills and talents, nurturing them and giving encouragement and positive feedback when they do well. This does not always come easy to choir trainers. Lindsay reminisced over his own experience with Sir David Willcocks!

Opening up the discussion to the floor, questions were raised over liturgical and musical training at theological college. Concern was expressed over the low profile that the role of music within worship is given these days.

Recruitment was also a widespread concern – at all ages. Commitment is a big issue, and Lindsay raised the interesting suggestion that it is perhaps not necessary to expect a service with high quality music every week: perhaps a fortnightly (for example) frequency might be more appropriate.

There was a selection of new music published by the Royal School of Church Music on display, and people were encouraged to browse through the latest resources, which cover a wide spectrum of needs and abilities.

The formal part of the evening ended with the arrival of the fish and chip supper, which was of particularly good quality. Those living close to St Stephen’s are lucky to have Cheong’s restaurant nearby! Thanks go to all those who helped organise it.

The general consensus was that this had been a very good evening. It was really good to welcome Lindsay, who showed a keen interest in learning about everybody’s circumstances at a grass roots level. A few photos are included along with this short review, and there is also an opportunity to leave any personal comments.

Andy Benoy, with photos by Chris Muhley