Messages about the coming 2020-2021 season from our Chairman (David Pollak), Musical Director (Michael Cayton) and Treasurer (Paul Buckley)


For those of you who were unable or unwilling (only joking!) to read my recent message posted to our website, I’ve repeated the same message with a couple of important additions, written in italics for your benefit.

As one season ends, we naturally look forward to the next, but this is no ordinary year and the last season and next are like no others we have ever known.

As Pam, our indefatigable Publicity Manager, wrote in our last but one Lockdown Update, we had begun our highly successful series of Zoom rehearsals. Our very creative and, I must now say, patient Musical Director and conductor, Michael Cayton, has kept us fully engaged over the last 3 months and our last rehearsal attracted more than 70 screens which probably represented close to 100 members of the choir and, of course, orchestra.

The future is still uncertain and at our last committee meeting at the end of June, the same questions regarding our future rehearsal arrangements and, indeed, concert performances, still existed. Hence our decision to issue the questionnaire that all members should have received in recent days which is now some weeks ago. We take the health and safety of our members as our most important responsibility and your replies will help us to make the right decisions in the coming months. If you haven’t replied yet, please do so now. Our decisions will be influenced by your replies.

Our rehearsal and concert venues at Watford Girls Grammar school and the Colosseum are unable to give us a firm date as to when we might return and if so, what conditions will then apply. We are all waiting for clear Government advice but even more than advice, we all have to follow our own consciences and do what we believe is best for others and ourselves. Nevertheless, our tireless Rehearsals Manager, Margaret, has prepared a rehearsals schedule which is enclosed in this pack. Everyone will understand that the schedule of rehearsals and workshops, not to mention concerts, must be considered provisional only. They represent our best ambitions. Let’s hope they can be achieved!

You’ll all be aware of our decision to prepare Mozart’s Coronation Mass in our first term of the new season. Thanks to Michael for his guidance and recommendation. Don’t forget to secure a copy of the score and especially, the correct edition. Please note that rehearsals will be on Zoom to begin with but we hope that we may be able to resume in person by November, suitably distanced, and perform some style of concert at Christmas. Having waited almost a year, we then have the ambition to perform The Messiah at the Colosseum next March and a fun-packed summer concert in June.

We have made provisional reservations at other venues, including the Great Hall at Bushey Academy and local churches. We have also been in close touch with the Colosseum management and they are being both understanding and supportive.

We all hope that the Pandemic, that has caused so much pain and distress to so many people, will be a thing of the past very soon. In the meantime, we should be proud of what we have achieved this year. Despite 3 cancelled concerts since last December and virtual rehearsals since March, I believe that our Society is as strong and united as it has ever been and that spirit will carry us through the next few months, regardless of what happens.

You will all receive annual subscription notices during August. With thanks to Steve Crocker, these notices will be sent by email. Paul Buckley, our treasurer, will explain how we have arrived at the renewal subscription rates and we are confident that you will approve. At least we hope so! Big thanks to Paul for guiding us to the decisions the committee made which are summarised in his message (see below).

As summer beckons, we hope that everyone will take advantage of the multiple opportunities to enjoy different ways of keeping in touch and enjoying music and singing. Our very own Corona Chronicles, so ably put together by Judy Newton-Davies, has been a revelation and contributions from you are very much appreciated. As Judy would say “keep ‘em coming”. As I write, we have learned that the Government has approved a £1.57bn support package to the arts. Lobbying works and we all hope that this money will be sufficient.

Stay fit, stay healthy and be safe and let’s all hope and pray that we can come together again as soon as possible.

David Pollak – Chairman


Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the Summer break. I wanted to share with you a few thoughts about next term. At present we don’t know for sure if we will be back singing together or continuing by Zoom. In any case, the members of the Committee and I felt that we needed to move on with repertoire next term and to help us with that we have chosen Mozart’s Coronation Mass as our main study which we will begin rehearsing – initially on Zoom – from Monday 7 September.

The Krönungsmesse, K. 317 was an ideal choice for us to work on. It is brilliantly written (as one might expect from Wolfgang) and does not require soloists. Also, the piece is flexible enough to be worked on successfully with either live rehearsals or over Zoom. It was one of the first pieces Mozart composed on becoming Court Organist and Composer at Salzburg Cathedral and it displays Mozart’s ability to fuse the gravitas of the mass with the joy and elegance of the music. In 1985 it was famously performed liturgically at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with Pope John Paul II presiding and Herbert Von Karajan conducting (the complete recording is available on Youtube –

Our rehearsals will be structured slightly differently to our previous Zoom sessions. After a warm up there will be further studies in theory and sight reading (don’t worry, you won’t be made to sing on your own!) and we will spend longer on each section so everyone will have chance to keep up with the note bashing.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that we all refer to the same score. We have decided to use the New Novello version seen below. It is readily available from Amazon and priced around £8. Since we are unlikely to be able to obtain hire copies from our usual sources, please try to get yourself a copy that you can work from. It really will make life easier for you. This is a good piece to have worked on and we will definitely perform it in the near future so your money won’t be wasted.

I hope you all have a great Summer and I look forward to our making music together in September.

Stay Safe and Well.



The committee remains committed to support and develop the Watford Philharmonic Society and to fully support our professional musicians. We regret that it seems likely that there will be no concerts until after Christmas, resulting in a possible 2 concerts only in the coming season, always subject to conditions. Based on this and our need to maintain an adequate cash reserve, the committee has decided that the choir subscription for 2020-21 will be £80, and £40 for under 30-year olds. Orchestra subscriptions will be £40 for the year, and £20 for under 30-year olds.

In view of the reduced subscription and since tickets were sold for only one concert last season, we have decided that no discounts will be offered for either tickets sold last season or early settlement. At the same time, we are conscious that there might be members who have experienced financial difficulties following the restrictions caused by the Pandemic. If you are one of these people, please feel confident to contact me, in strict confidence, when we can discuss a reduction or the waiving of your subscription for the coming season.

We hope and expect the vast majority of members will pay by bank transfer, quoting their membership number when making payment.

Enrolment procedure – members will be invited to renew their membership by email. Instead of completing and returning forms they will be asked to renew their membership via the new on-line members’ database. The subscription rates and how to pay will be provided and members will be able to correct any errors in their details on the database. Access to the database will be in line with GDPR requirements and no-one needs to feel anxious about security.

Members without email will get a letter and renewal forms as in the past.

Final Accounts and a Balance Sheet will be prepared in due course

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Society for the 2020-21 season and thank you for your cooperation

Paul Buckley


Watford Philharmonic Society