Last Monday, at our final rehearsal of the year, I said that this had been a funny old year. Against all the odds, we, the Watford Philharmonic Society, had overcome all the hurdles that had been put in our way and had soldiered on. We maintained rehearsals throughout, recorded some seasonal songs for Christmas and even managed a virtual concert to end our term on a high.

Our committee have truly risen to the challenge. The Corona Chronicles have been a lifeline for many members, offering fascinating and sometimes amusing insights into the backgrounds and profiles of many members of the Society. Quizzes, news and good advice have made the Chronicles an essential part of the life of the Society. We are all extremely grateful to Judy, editor in chief, who almost single handed, has master-minded and compiled all 8 editions and has promised a final flourish in the new year.

Other members of our committee have also been busy, keeping us connected and informed. Tim, Pam and Nikki have been tireless in their efforts to ensure that our website remains topical and attractive, our Zoom sessions were always reliable and that the membership never had cause to ask “what’s going on”. They have all risen to the challenges of the last nine months and our Society is the stronger for their contribution.

While I have mentioned four of our committee, we are equally grateful to other members who have consistently maintained and promoted the Society during the year. Paul has had his work cut out, maintaining our accounts and handling more refunds than we have probably handled in our entire history. Always sporting a smile, supported by our tireless ticket managers, Den and Gaynor, every request and suggestion has been met and even after 5 cancelled concerts since December 2019, our reputation is as strong as ever. In fact, I understand that we have attracted the admiration and applause of several other music societies for the way in which we have kept going and ensured that everyone has stayed connected.

During these past months, we have had to provide for a variety of scenarios and so, rehearsals schedules, venue bookings, publicity and promotions, governance, orchestra management and programme planning have all been maintained. None of this could happen without the conscientious action by Margaret, Audrey, Frances, Graham and Keith who make up the other members of the committee.

“And finally,” in the words of our raffle caller supremo (who doubles up as our conductor), a vote of thanks to Michael. As I said last Monday, he has demonstrated tremendous ingenuity and creativity in holding our attention and, with his exercises, keeping us in trim. Every week, he has produced on- screen music to sing and exercises to challenge our musical knowledge and ability. The new year will see a slightly different format to our rehearsals and we are confident that Michael will continue to inspire and motivate us all as we maintain our vocal chords in preparation for a return to in-person rehearsals and concert performances.

A very Happy Christmas to everyone and let’s all look forward to a Happy New Year, full of peace, good health and harmony.

David Pollak


Dear All,

As everyone must be aware, as we remain in the grips of the Covid19 Pandemic, we must again hold our rehearsals next term over zoom. It’s not ideal, we all know that. However, it is the best way to keep our Society alive and connected until we can meet together again in person. I believe that during the last term we managed to achieve some really good work. Not just on our main work, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, but also on sight reading and rhythmic exercises.

Last night, in consultation with the committee, we decided to build on this format to make it more fun and enjoyable whilst at the same time learning some new repertoire. Each week, starting on Monday 11th January, we will have our usual warm up but we will then go on to run through something that we all know well. We shall begin at our first rehearsal with a run through of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Hopefully, you all have your scores. We won’t rehearse any of these pieces but just sing them to a backing track, for fun. We will then have our usual warm up exercises, exploring sight reading techniques and music theory. Following that we will work on a small section of John Rutter’s Birthday Madrigals. These are excellent pieces, very well written with gentle jazz rhythms. They are the perfect antidote to the cold grey weather outside and hopefully, at some point in the future, we may be able to perform them. Details of the score are listed below and can be most easily purchased from or Amazon. We will then finish our session by running through a well-known song or jazz standard, just as we did in the Spring term. Again, we won’t rehearse, just sing for fun.

We hope this slightly adjusted format will make the zoom sessions easy to manage, bearable and be enjoyable for all. In the mean-time thank you very much for your continued support and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.

Michael Cayton