The Master’s Newsletter, April 2020

Dear Member,

I didn’t expect to be writing again so soon, but the unexpected seems to have become a way of life. I hope that you and those near to you are all keeping well, and that isolation is not proving too trying.

Given the downpour of dreadful news on whichever media you choose, I thought that you might like to have some rather better tidings. We have adopted a new Company initiative to offer some tangible help to our Yeomen Young Artists, who are experiencing particular hardship through the cancellation of their performances. Those of you who are quick to read the new issue of Preserve Harmony will have seen this in my article on “Funding the Present and Managing the Future”.

As we are unable to go ahead with the Prince’s Prize Competition which was scheduled for 27 April at the Guildhall School, we have approved a scheme which would, we think be a really useful way of using the prize money of £10,000 from the Prince’s Prize to benefit our Yeomen Young Artists. We will use these funds to pay our Yeomen Young Artists to record a short recital from their homes, which will then be broadcast by the Company online. We will send more information to Members, including how to access these recordings, once filming begins. I would like to encourage the whole Company and all the Yeomen Young Artists to become the virtual concert audience.

This will, we hope, create a huge amount of positive exposure for the Company and it might also keep the spirit of performance which the Prince’s Prize is all about and show that the Company is supportive of our young artists in need.

We will, we hope, be launching this new initiative at the end of April. Final details are yet to be settled, watch this space.

The Alzheimers Society is setting up virtual “Singing for the Brain” sessions, and I am in contact with them to see if we might be able to ask some of our singer Yeomen to record sessions which can be used in dementia cafes – as many of the sessions I set up recently have also been cancelled. I hope that we will be able to help here as well.

I am afraid I cannot get away from bad news totally: here is the list of cancelled events as of early April:

(Friday 27th March: United Guilds Service & Lunch, St Paul’s Cathedral & Stationers’ Hall)

(Wednesday 1st April: April Court & Livery Dinner, Barber-Surgeons’ Hall)

Monday 27th April: Prince’s Prize Competition, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Tuesday 5th May: Freemen’s Dinner, Aldermen’s Dining Room, Guildhall

Tuesday 12th May: Clergy Support Trust Service, St Paul’s Cathedral

Monday 18th May: WCoM Concert, Purcell Room

Sunday 7th June: Young Jazz Musicians Winner’s Gig, Soho Jazz Club

14-17 July: Livery Club Visit to Buxton

We are still waiting to hear about the Royal Marines Beating the Retreat on Horse Guards Parade on Wednesday 3rd June.

The Dankworth Composition Awards Concert on Thursday 26th June at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama has been postponed until early November. The Office is changing arrangements for auditions and applications for many of the Company Awards that were due to be held over the summer.

News about the Midsummer Banquet on 24th June and the July Court and Informal lunch on Wednesday 8th July will follow when we have further details of likely Government policy to large gatherings.

For me, as for every Master, and the Lord Mayor, the diary has gone from more than 20 events a month, to zero, with no prospect of real change for the foreseeable future. The Lord Mayor’s Dinner for the Livery, the Ironbridge weekend for all Masters, every Livery event or dinner, every Consorts event, have all gone. At least the garden has never looked so good, and happily I succumbed to the temptation of buying an electric touring bike last Autumn, and so am able to do a couple of dozen miles a day as long as the weather is good, although I keep a weather eye out for drones!

In these trying times, please keep safe and keep well: and let us look forward to meeting again when this virus is over.

John Nichols