At full strength our choir numbers over 140 voices which enables us to take on some of the biggest and best-known pieces of the classical choral repertoire. In recent years, these have included Bach, B minor Mass; Britten, War Requiem; Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem; Jenkins The Armed Man; Walton Belshazzar’s Feast and Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony as well as some of the smaller and less familiar works such as Bernstein, Chichester Psalms and the recently composed and deeply moving There Was a Child by English composer Jonathan Dove. Our annual Christmas concert is a popular event in the Watford calendar with its mix of well-loved Christmas music and carols interspersed with those newer works and arrangements enjoyed by regular listeners to the Christmas broadcasts from the choir of Kings College, Cambridge. Children from local school choirs are usually invited to join us on the platform and of course there’s plenty of singing and fun for the audience. We also try to include Proms-style music at least every other year in our summer concerts.
Many of our members enjoy opportunities to participate in workshops or ‘Come & Sing’ days offered by other choirs in the neighbourhood and further afield. Singing in the Royal Albert Hall with upwards of 1,000 voices is a really powerful experience as is joining forces with choirs from across the country in the magnificent Symphony Hall in Birmingham to spend a day working with renowned choral director Simon Halsey and the City of Birmingham.
Joining a choir is a great way to make new friends. As well as singing together regularly in rehearsals and on the concert platform, we offer an annual programme of social events ranging from informal get-togethers with a buffet supper to the occasional Society dinner, Quiz Nights and Summer Barbecues
Sarah Lockwood – Alto – our newest recruit to the choir – it’s lovely to have you Sarah!
I sang in choirs a lot at school and university, so when I wanted to get back into it I went looking for a good local choir. Everyone at Watford Philharmonic is really friendly and welcoming and some people have been members for decades so it feels like a big happy family! I’m really looking forward to singing the Messiah again: it was the first big choral work I ever sang so it has a lot of memories for me.
Few choral societies have their own orchestra, so we are indeed fortunate that around 20 instrumentalists are currently members of our Society. All orchestral players are expected to have reached a minimum standard of Grade 8 or its equivalent and many of our players are semi-professional, often performing with other orchestras or in smaller ensembles. Nevertheless, depending on the size of orchestra needed for a specific choral works, we frequently hire additional players to cover all sections and fill the gaps where necessary.
Occasionally, our orchestra puts on concerts independently of the choir and – inspired by our current leader, Jeanne Mann and former conductor Terry Edwards – they participate in occasional Sunday Workshops in which they are joined by other musicians from the area to play their way through a series of symphonies by the greatest classical composers. So far, they have completed a Haydn cycle and with our current musical director Michael Cayton, a Beethoven cycle and several of the nine symphonies by Schubert. For details of the next orchestral workshop, please click Here.
Tim Egan – French Horn
I have been with the Watford Philharmonic for quite a time now although I have only been living in Hertfordshire for 4 years. One thing that sets this orchestra apart from the others in the area is it’s continuous involvement with the choir.
Since I joined I have experienced performing such great works: Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9, Bach’s B Minor Mass, Haydn’s Creation, Rutter’s Requiem, Puccini’s Messa Di Gloria and many more in the most stunning acoustically built environment – the Watford Colosseum. The Colosseum boasts world-class acoustics and brings a range of world renowned musicians, comedians and more to Hertfordshire.
Of course a great orchestra is nothing without a great conductor leading the instrumentalists and vocalists alike and Michael Cayton is indeed that. His knowledge of the pieces we perform is astounding. He works with the choir and orchestra with such ease, making rehearsals such fun, but also ensuring all his thoughts and wishes are transmitted through us and the audience gets to hear all the hard work we all put into each and every concert.
It is truly an amazing experience playing with the Watford Philharmonic – I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
If you would like to know more about joining our orchestra, please contact Keith Champion firstname.lastname@example.org
David Pyatt – Patron
Locally born French horn player, David was only fourteen when he won the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 1988 – at the time, the youngest competitor to take the title. Then a pupil at Watford Boys’ Grammar School, David first read History at Selwyn College, Cambridge before forging an international career as a musician starting as principal horn player with the London Symphony Orchestra, then with the London Philharmonic —more—
Andrew Shore – Patron
Born in Lancashire, Andrew’s talents were harnessed early whilst still at school and by local amateur musical societies and theatre groups. His first major solo role was as Curly in a school production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s much-loved musical, Oklahoma. A passion for theatre and opera developed while studying theology at Bristol University and Andrew went on to study at the Royal Northern College —more—
Terry Edwards – President
Terry Edwards was Conductor and Chorus Master for Watford Philharmonic from 2006 to 2014 and is now the President of the Society. He gave a Q&A to the Watford Observer prior to his final concert in June 2015 in which he said “[I look back over the last eight years] with a great deal of pleasure…One feels honoured to have helped [the choir members] through eight years of their vocal lives. I shall carry on working with my professional choir, London Voices. We’re into doing film sessions and we’ve toured China recently, so they keep me going.” One feels honoured to have helped them through eight years of their vocal lives. —more–
Michael Cayton – Musical Director & Conductor
Michael Cayton was appointed as conductor to Watford Philharmonic in September 2014, succeeding Terry Edwards who is now our President. Prior to that Michael was guest conductor for a performance of Britten’s War Requiem in March 2014. Michael has a truly varied and distinguished professional career, as an organist, trumpeter and conductor. In his early career he passed through the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall before serving with the Grenadier Guards as a trumpeter, organist and pianist. On leaving the military, he studied piano at the Royal College of Music where he attained his BMus and ARCM and won the Hilda Anderson Deane prize for conducting and improvisation. …more—
Rosemary Venner – Rehearsal Accompanist
Rosemary Venner has been the Society’s rehearsal pianist since 1995. Following studies at the Royal Academy of Music, Rosemary was a freelance accompanist and coach for several years before moving into office administration and accounts. She recently retired from business and is enjoying having more time to spend on music and golf. Rosemary has frequently contributed the orchestral keyboard part in performances, and the harpsichord part for the Society’s ‘Haydn in Herts’ series of orchestral workshops.
Jeanne Mann – Leader of the Orchestra
Jeanne Mann is a freelance orchestral violinist (and sometime violist) takes Jeanne around the country playing for Choral Societies and orchestras of all kinds, playing a variety of music ranging from the classics to orchestral light music. Performances with The Pemberley Players continue, with invitations to play at ‘Regency’ dances in Ansbach, Germany where their style of ‘costumed balls’ is very popular. This group of five musicians specialises in dance music from the Regency era. All the music is researched and the dances are ‘of the period’. Many musical clips, photos and details of their latest CD The Pride and Prejudice Collection. Volume 4 can be found on the Fain Music website. —more–
Gerard O’Beirne – Voice Coach
Gerard O’Beirne has performed throughout Britain, Europe, the United States and the far east, in the main concert venues and festivals. He has recorded and toured with all the major professional choral groups including The Monteverdi Choir, The Gabrieli Consort, The English Concert, Tenebrae and the BBC Singers. His classical repertoire is extensive, encompassing consort music of the fifteenth century as well as many contemporary works and first performances.
Teaching and coaching both choirs and private students from his home in Croxley Green now occupies more of his time.
|David Pollak *||Chairman|
|Judy Newton-Davies *||Vice Chairman|
|Audrey Adams *||Secretary|
|Paul Buckley *||Treasurer|
|Frances Pyatt *||Concert Manager|
|Pam Allanson||Publicity & Marketing|
|Nikki Hind||Membership Secretary|
|Tim Pettigrew||IT Manager|
|Graham Wheeler||Concert Programme Coordinator|
|Margaret Burke||Rehearsals Manager|
|Keith Champion (co-opted)||Orchestra Representative.|
* Denotes Officer
The regular activities of the Society are managed by an elected committee acting on behalf of all members. Currently there are nine committee posts, five of which are held by the Society’s officers. Several committee members carry specific responsibility for a major aspect of the organisation (premises contracts; concert management; concert programme planning; membership; publicity) and some are leaders of small teams of helpers. We are fortunate to have many volunteers contributing to the organisation and smooth operation of the Society.
As required by the Charities Commission, all committee members are Trustees of the Society and are collectively responsible for its artistic credibility and financial well-being. Committee Minutes are available for members to consult if they wish.
Committee members are elected by members at the Society’s AGM to serve for a period of 2 years. Subject to being re-elected, each member may serve a total of eight successive years after which at least one year must elapse before becoming eligible for further nomination.
More details of the current committee membership and terms of office can be found in the document below.