Over the very sunny and warm weekend of September 26th – 28th 2014, Rochester Cathedral and the Rochester Cathedral Old Choristers’ Association played host to the national federation’s festival weekend.
On the Friday, nearly 100 delegates from all over the country gathered for a drinks reception in the Deanery courtesy of the Dean, Dr Mark Beach. Also there to greet the guests were the Mayor of Medway, Cllr Barry Kemp and the Chairman of Rochester Cathedral Old Choristers’ Association Chris Royall OR.
After a delicious buffet supper and a word of welcome, we all made our way to the cathedral for a specially arranged concert given by the King’s Singers. Chris Gabbitas OR is a baritone with the group and had assisted in the arrangements for the concert which included a piece by Bob Chilcott sung together with the Cathedral Choir under Scott Farrell, Director of Music. The concert was also open to the public and was very well attended. During the concert, the group also performed a new composition called ‘Afterwards’ by Barry Ferguson, a former Director of Music at the cathedral and who was also in the audience to join in the applause.
The Saturday began with an organ recital followed by tours of the cathedral. After lunch there was a festival evensong in the cathedral nave followed by a group photograph and a champagne reception courtesy of the Chairman Chris Royall. Everyone then walked over to the King’s School Hall for the festival dinner. This had been expertly organised by Col Ian Rouse while the beautiful flower decorations on all the tables were supplied by Tom Gough OR. The Dinner Chairman was Ian Henderson OR who is also the Chairman of the National Federation. After singing grace, everyone was treated to a very enjoyable meal, including roast beef carved at the table and cheese and port.
The toast to the Queen was proposed by the Head Chorister, Henry Skillern, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Roger Overend then gave an update on the work of the Choir Schools’ Association before the main address by Andrew Carwood, Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral. The evening was brought to a close by the traditional and enthusiastic singing of rounds led by David Sandon. And to help everyone remember Rochester Cathedral and what had been a superb weekend, everyone was presented with a souvenir coffee mug designed by his father, Henry Sandon of Antiques Roadshow fame. The weekend concluded with Choral Mattins and a sung Eucharist in the Cathedral on Sunday morning.