‘Since singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing.’ William Byrd
Lutterworth and District Choral Society Registered Charity number 1048089
Past Musical Directors
Click name for more information.
Robert Foreman (2003-
Kathryn Cook (2001-
Anne de Graeve (1991-
Marlene Sweetko (1989-
Michael Arnison (1985-
Ken Harris (1957-
Harry Hyman (1951-
John Buck (1946-
Kathryn Cook grew up in Leicestershire and studied Music at York University. After nine years of teaching music in secondary schools in the county, she went to Birmingham’s conservatoire to study voice with Pamela Cook MBE.
She has performed in the UK and throughout Europe as a soloist and with the Gabrieli Consort, Finzi Singers and the Joyful Company of Singers. She directed the Lutterworth Choral Society from 2001—2003 and has happy memories of a warm and enthusiastic group of singers. After twenty years of combining performing, choral directing and teaching voice, Kathryn is now training for ministry in the Methodist Church. Top
At a supper party in April 1991 I was talking to other musical friends about what I was hoping to do in the future. ‘Find a choral society to conduct’ I said little knowing that the following weekend they were entertaining Marlene Sweetko who expressed her worries about leaving Lutterworth and District Choral Society when she went to study in Manchester. At about 11:30 I received a call from Marlene -
Right from the start I realised that working with these colourful characters was going to be fun, and that musically many large choral works would be a challenge, so I decided to use smaller-
I think the most memorable concert was Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. The string quartet added a great deal and David Johnson’s electronic keyboard acted not only as harpsichord and organ but also as ‘birdsong’ for the first scene, ‘thunder’ for the storm and witches and ‘seagulls and waves’ for the harbour scene.
Being music director of LDCS has been a great privilege for me. We have great fun and the little asides from the choir lead to a relaxed but hardworking Monday rehearsal. One especially still makes me chuckle. I was explaining tessitura (the range of the voice) to the gentlemen and one said ‘Tessitura. That sounds like a medical condition. Is it treatable?’ My thanks to all the committee for their support and help, to the row of accompanists who have put up with my high demands, and, of course, to all the members of the choir. Thank you for your hard work, patience and friendship. Top
That I was ever appointed conductor/musical director of the Lutterworth and District Choral Society was due in no small measure to Elisabeth Holden. She had obviously put in a good word for me where it needed to be heard, for within weeks of giving up the conductorship of the Abbey Choral Society (after 21 years) I found myself being interviewed at the home in Lutterworth of Mrs Doris Small.
The interview was quite an ordeal for me -
In the early days I had to struggle hard to persuade members that physical as well as vocal warm-
My first concert with the society was on 3 May 1986. We did nothing big like an opera or an oratorio, but preparing the dozen or so items proved every bit as demanding as a large-
I shall always be indebted to the LDCS for trusting me sufficiently to tackle some of my personal favourite works like Fauré’s Requiem, the Te Deum of Berlioz, which we did as a joint venture with the Hinckley Choral Union, Roger Jones’ Saints Alive, and last but no means least John Rutter’s Requiem. I have happy memories of the LDCS -
When I came to Lutterworth I joined the Choral Society looking forward to singing. I had had ten years as conductor at Wigston and I came for a rest. However, after only one year Harry Hyman moved to Leicester and I was invited to take over the baton. I passed it on some 27 years later.
They were indeed happy years. My aim was that the singers should enjoy themselves, have the opportunity of tackling works new to them and the pleasure of performing with first-
I always hoped for a membership of sixty and some years later we hit the target. It remains much the same, except that we have a larger proportion from the wider district. We have always had comings and goings as people move in and out of the area, but we keep a core of regular members and I was grateful for their loyalty.
I pay tribute especially to the succession of officers of the society who did the organising and left the musical direction to me. I thank those who gave their services as practice accompanists and deputy conductors, mentioning only one by name -
Every night, as I lock my front door, I glance to the right to look at and to set the barometer which, according to the inscription, was presented to me by the Lutterworth Choral Society in April 1957. What memories it brings. I joined the society in 1949 singing in the bass section under the baton of John Buck. From there I progressed to the role of accompanist. I never found out what was wrong with my piano playing, but I was subsequently asked to return to the basses. When John retired after the 1950 season I was asked if I would succeed him. I agreed to do so, and for the next seven years had the honour of serving as conductor. What memories come to mind!
Canon Avery, then rector of Lutterworth, met me in the street and offered me his congratulations. I suggested that I could do something that he could not -
After three weeks in charge I threatened to go home unless the singers were prepared to work under my direction, and not to please themselves. Two members resigned. At one function our president, Horace Balding, asked me how we stood for funds. I replied that we were on a very sound footing. Later the treasurer informed me that we had one shilling and sixpence. Horace never knew this.
The society had its downs and, fortunately, later on its ups. We had a meeting to decide what to do with the assets should the society disband. I wonder what the local council would have done with the music.
We rehearsed in the church hall with free use of the piano as long as we purchased our music from the local music shop owned by Frank Wheeler. One night Gerald Green was working in the adjoining room and unbeknown to us set in motion one of those new-
I found the Monday evening rehearsals a certain cure for headaches. After I transferred to teach in Oadby I would often arrive home wishing I did not have to go out again, but after sorting out wrong chording, late entries, failure to observe the composer’s instruction my headache had vanished. I wonder what killed it!
In those early days, concerts were part-
I have so many happy memories and if I were asked, ‘If you had your time again would you take over the Lutterworth Choral Society?’ The answer would be a big YES.
When I started in 1951 there were twenty three members and the outlook was not bright. One member said, ‘Harry, you are taking over a sinking ship but I’ll stay with you till it goes down.’ That was the spirit of the day. Numbers increased. The ship never sank. To all sailors still afloat I send warmest greetings and wish you many happy years singing together. Top