To all Former Choristers of the St Albans Abbey Girls Choir
and Cathedral Girls Choir
Vice President of the St Albans ECA
Director of the Abbey Girls Choir (1996 to 2001)
I would like to encourage you all to cast your minds back to being in the Girls Choir and reflect a little on what that experience meant to you.
I recently heard from one of the former boy choristers whom I had seen only rarely since he was in the choir two or three decades ago. He found my details on Linked-In and emailed to say that he had recently been thinking of his choir days “triggering many wonderful memories and embedding life skills I only could comprehend many years later.” He was particularly grateful to have been part of “such a wonderful and professional community” in his formative years.
I am sure that all of you will have more than a few positive experiences of being in a Cathedral choir. Many will look back fondly with gratitude and appreciation, as your years in the choir will have given you a unique outlook and set of skills to help you steer your career and other paths through life.
I hope you meet up with your peers from choir days and chat about those experiences, whether they be the trips away, the recordings, the people you’ve met through the choir, or some memorable performances in the daily round of services. In any case, please remember that the St. Albans Ex-Choristers Association (ECA) can also keep you in touch both with your peers, but also with former members of the Girls Choir since it began 24 years ago. Girls from other generations clearly have different memories of their time, but they also share your experience of regular singing at the Abbey.
Our ECA continues to support both Cathedral choirs as well as the Abbey’s music in general and would really appreciate your involvement in events – a small way in which you can bring your skills back to the place where you sang in your ‘formative years’.
If you can offer a bit more time, you would be most welcome to join the ECA committee and enhance the representation of the Abbey and Cathedral Girl choristers – helping to plan occasions, share ideas and inspire former choristers both recent and not so recent.
Please get in touch by emailing email@example.com and consider joining the team which will shape those events.
John Meager (1938-2020)
In this tribute, we give thanks for the life of John Meager, a former Cathedral Choir Tenor Lay Clerk, who sadly died on Wednesday 17th June at the Sue Ryder hospice in Reading after a period of ill health.
John lived in Mortimer, near Reading, Berkshire with his wife Margaret. John and Margaret have a daughter, Jane and two sons, Jeremy and Simon, both of whom were Cathedral Choristers.
John’s career was as a Manager for Barclays Bank International and his professionalism has been evident by his softly spoken and sensitive character.
John was a Decani Lay Clerk during the Hurford, Darlington and Walsh eras from 1975 to 1987 and sang alongside fellow tenor colleagues, Tony Edwards and Paul Turner.
John joined the ECA committee in 2011 and was Honorary Treasurer and Vice-Chairman between 2013 and 2017. He was also Honorary Treasurer for the International Organ Festival.
John was a great fan of Choir Camp and helped with its administration, including looking after the chorister’s pocket money in the field ‘bank’. Both he and Margaret enjoyed the outdoors and the various daily walks in Somerset. He enjoyed his pipe (“It kept the midges away”) and was known to sample the occasional glass of ale!
He liked to reminisce about his audition with Peter Hurford which was a testing time and later succumbed to Peter’s wicked sense of humour when challenged at rehearsal:
“Did you just make a mistake Mr Meager?”
“I don’t think so, Sir” was John’s reply (we all saw it coming!)
“I don’t appreciate tenors who don’t think!” was the withering response.
John, who died peacefully with his close family around him and listening to his beloved music, will be remembered as a lovely, caring man who always saw the upside opportunity of every day.
The latest edition of the ECA newsletter, Alban Notes, is now available to download.
Alban Notes #49 – Autumn
I have just published an edited volume
‘Annunciations: Sacred Music for the Twenty-First Century’
which might be of interest to ex-choristers of St Albans, and which is dedicated to the Cathedral Choir of St Albans Abbey.
The book can be freely downloaded as a PDF online, and is also available as a paperback or hardback copy, at the following website, which also gives some more information about the volume.
I am also directing a new MLitt in Sacred Music at the University of St Andrews, a collaboration between the School of Divinity and the Music Centre, which will open for applications in September this year (with the first cohort of students beginning in September 2020).
With best wishes,