‘There is no ‘elitism’ in sacred church music’

Jul 31, 2020 by

by David France, The Star:

In 1951, as a child of a working class family on the fringes of ‘posh’ Nether Edge, at the persuasion of a friend on our street, I became a chorister at the much-missed St Andrew’s Parish Church.

No-one at St Andrew’s ever questioned my place in the choir stalls.

When I was persuaded to accept Confirmation – a reluctant decision since I came from a family of devout Methodists – I felt obliged to wear my mother’s shoes because my own had holes in the soles which would have been seen by the congregation when I knelt at the communion rail.

Fortunately my mother, a latter day buffer girl, wore what would now be called unisex shoes.

While in the choir, I rejoiced in singing hymns and anthems from Bach to Stainer, Verdi to Vaughan Williams.

I recall singing “Jerusalem” at the City Hall for the local Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and I’m proud to be seen in a Sheffield Telegraph photograph used in the anniversary exhibition at the City Hall a couple of years ago.

Many years later, I became the producer of The Festival of Remembrance at The Royal Albert Hall and, at Christmas, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on BBC Radio, a programme that has the largest audience of any radio programme in the world.

The late Sir Stephen Cleobury accepted my authenticity without question.

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