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Past Musical Directors..

Since singing is so good a thing.....

At 7.30pm every Monday we meet at
the Lutterworth Methodist Church
All singers welcome!

Harry Hyman

Reminiscences from Harry Hyman (1951 - 1957)

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 – keep more people in harmony for a longer time than he could. He appreciated the point.

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-fangled tape recorders. At the end of the evening he played it back and we learned a lot from that recording. I wonder what became of that tape. Gerald helped in fetching soloists from Leicester, and his mother became president of the society.

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-songs and solo items in the Town Hall. The we changed to ‘works’ performed at the Grammar School. From this point the society started to pick up. I remember Messiah, Merrie England, Tom Jones, Hymn of Praise and my swan song The Banner of St George. After the interval in this concert I handed my baton over to Ken Harris and became the accompanist for Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. I remember a rehearsal for this when the sopranos sang the word ‘love’ below pitch of the note indicated. I would have had something sharp to say, but the conductor of the evening, a very thoughtful person, said simply, ‘Ladies, lift your love just a little bit higher.’ Complete collapse of the soprano section.

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.

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