Jubilee – Christopher Bowen – Celia Jordan

What a marvellous occasion this afternoon has been. We’ve had a sell-out concert, in the presence of our Patron, on this milestone anniversary and it marks another great achievement for Chris and the Choir. In Chris’s 20 years as our Music Director, he has been responsible for up to 100 concerts. These have been not just the thrice yearly programs, but also concerts to promote the choir or to raise funds. For this effort, I think he should have a very special award, which I’ve called the ODDDDD award. This is of course, the Order for Diligent, Distinguished, Devoted, Dedicated Directors.

Diligent because for the past 20 years he has organised all the concerts for the main choir and sub choir groups; has attended to all the music preparation; hired the orchestras and  found and tried out and prepared soloists. Each concert needs a good 10 weeks of rehearsal and so, all in all, he’s rehearsed the choir well over 700+ times.  During the years he has missed very few rehearsals. He’s been sick a few times and we do occasionally allow him to go off and have a holiday!

He has already received awards of Distinction; is also a very distinguished composer and we have been fortunate to premier many of his works.

Devoted because apart from the concert preparation he has also joined in all the social functions the choir has organised over the years, to raise money and build up esprit de corps.  He’s accompanied the choir members who have strutted their stuff at the soirees we used to have and somewhere here, though I haven’t yet seen it, there may even be a photo of him in his tiara, at Molly’s 90th birthday

Finally the Dedication.   The choir continues to grow because of the work that the committee and its members achieve. Kent and I are two of the many who have been on the committee and attended meetings over the years. Chris however gets to attend them all, 11 each year.   Do you realise what that means?   He has sat at well over 220 meetings. If you were lucky they finished in their allotted 3 hours, and if you weren’t, they didn’t! I’ve worked out that probably adds up to well over a month of his life, spent simply sitting at meetings.

So, what has all this commitment and hard work meant for the choir?   Certainly  the  sound we make now has advanced and improved since both Kent and I joined; our orchestras continue to attract 1st rate musicians, as exemplified by this concert; our soloists have been outstanding and of course the introduction of the Joan Carden Award now ensures that young soloists are recognised and promoted.

As a choir though, we’re still not quite perfect. We have ar –tic-u- la-tion problems and our errant consonants continue to cause him much grief. Looked at positively Chris, all this provides you with ample fodder to work on in your next 20 years with the choir!!!

Now, in recognition of your unique leadership over the past 20 years, the committee and members of the choir would like to present to you a bound copy of the score of ‘Songs of The Heart’. As many people here will know, the choir commissioned you to compose this work based on the poems of Christopher Brennan, which you dedicated to Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir when we performed it to great acclaim, at our December concert last year. We hope that you will accept this, as a token of our deepest appreciation of everything you have achieved for the choir.

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