News & Events - Last Year

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We were pleased this year to be asked once again to assist the Royal British Legion in preparing their annual Service of Remembrance on 11 November in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, especially as this was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

We thought it fitting to ask our counterparts in RSCM NW Europe to help us, as the occasion would also be special for them, and were delighted to welcome over 20 singers, with their conductor Martin van Bleek, who came from Holland and Belgium to join our own RSCM France Singers, making a choir of 70 voices. Our Chairman, John Crothers, and our YPO Zachary Ullery, both shared the conducting along with Martin van Bleek.

Before the service there were three items to illustrate our unity in 2018 – “Grant us thy peace” by Mendelssohn, sung in German; “Notre Père” by Duruflé, sung in French; “Requiem Aeternam” – music by Elgar and arranged for choir by David Hill. Our Vice-Chairman, Joan-Marie Bauman, played “Cantilène pour flûte solo” which was a first performance in the presence of the composer, Eric Arnal.

During the service we sang a plainsong setting of the Te Deum, which was used at the first Armistice service in Notre Dame in 1918. RSCM France had commissioned an anthem specially for the service from Malcolm Archer, paid for by voluntary contributions from friends and supporters. The anthem, “My soul there is a country” was written to the words of the poem by the seventeenth century composer Henry Vaughan and was very moving.

The bugle used for the “Last Post” and “Reveille” was the very one used to sound the Cease Fire on the Western Front one hundred years to the day before the service.

We were accompanied on the Choir Organ by our loyal supporter Sarah Kim, plus five brass players and a timpanist where appropriate. Philippe Lefebvre, Titulaire des Grandes-Orgues de Notre-Dame, played the organ postlude: “Pomp and Circumstance March No1 in D” by Sir Edward Elgar, a fitting end to a wonderful service.

After the service, members of the committee of RSCM France, and the Chairman of RSCM NW Europe, were invited to a reception at the British Embassy, along with their colleagues from the Royal British Legion.

We thank all those who gave their time and talents so freely to make this such a memorable occasion, but special thanks must go to RSCM France Chairman, John Crothers, who took on the task of the overall planning and organisation.



RSCM France, Third National Festival, 20 October 2018


Encouraged by successful events held in 2015 and 2017, which had given many church choral musicians the opportunity to learn to improve their singing together from expert practitioners, the Committee of RSCM France decided to make the event an annual one. Thus there was organised a Third National Festival in the by now customary venue of the American Cathedral, an imposing 19th-century edifice on the Right Bank of the Seine in Paris.

Despite the date coinciding with the beginning of the French school holidays, when many families take an extended break in the mountain or beside the sea, right from 9am people began arriving, ready for a 9.30am start. Clutching their previously-ordered copies of the RSCM’s Festival Service book, King of Glory, King of Peace, just over thirty participants took their place in the intricately carved choir stalls to await the arrival of the Course Director.

If a certain anticipation was evident, it was undoubtedly because the reputation of the Course Director had preceded him. And, right on cue, none other than David Hill, legendary Conductor of the Bach Choir and BBC Singers (among other prestigious groups), appeared at the rostrum, and an unforgettable day began.

To the evident delight of the participants, David ensured that everyone felt valued and encouraged. While those with church choirs to train noted down the splendidly concise warm-up exercises for use with their own singers, the other participants discovered that progress was made simply by singing together and adopting the tips and techniques offered from the Director’s wealth of experience.

Thus it was that a number of people who had met only that morning found themselves, by 4.30pm, in a position to sing an entire Evensong, and to acquit themselves very creditably into the bargain!

Following an animated rendition of the Pitoni Cantate Domino, Preces and Responses by Harry Bramma set the tone, followed by the tuneful Salisbury Festival Service from the pen of Grayston Ives. Although some choir members had only encountered the method of Anglican chanting when preparing for this Service, the resulting Psalm 145, set to a chant by Walmisley in A, would have done credit to a group of seasoned singers.

The anthem, Maurice Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, while a challenge to bring off well, found the singers rise to the occasion. The Service was completed by three stirring hymns, the last of which – an intricate arrangement of the tune GOPSAL by former RSCM Director, Andrew Reid – rounded off the day splendidly.

The singers had the good fortune to be accompanied by the gifted Malcolm Wisener, former Organist of Cork Cathedral, who coaxed the maximum out of an ailing American Cathedral instrument.

All in all, an unforgettable learning experience, which was spiritually valuable at the same time, as testified to by many participants in the comments left behind.

As David Hill himself commented,

“It was a pleasure to direct the RSCM France choir in Evensong in the American Cathedral. Paris was looking stunning under the cloudless skies, and the singers were in very good spirits, working hard and achieving great results in some exacting repertoire.”

Yet again, thanks are due to Zachary Ullery, YPO of RSCM France and Canon Director of Music in the American Cathedral, for his seamless organisation of the venue.



Chair, RSCM France





On Tuesday 17th April, the now-traditional organists’ lunch for those working in the capital was held in our regular restaurant, just off the Champs-Elysées.

This was the fifth year that this popular event has taken place under the auspices of RSCM France. This time six players joined the RSCM Chairman to enjoy a relaxing meal and debate items of common interest, including plans announced by the RSCM in France for the year ahead.


In the photo are (left to right):

Joan-Marie BAUMAN (Holy Trinity, Maisons-Laffitte), Andrew DEWAR (American Cathedral), John CROTHERS (St George’s Anglican Church), Sarah KIM (Temple de l’Oratoire du Louvre), Fred GRAMANN (American Church), Zachary ULLERY (American Cathedral), Peter HICKS (St George’s Anglican Church).



This year’s spring Singing Day attracted some twenty-plus singers from nine different choirs to the atmospheric space that is St George’s Anglican Church, located near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The singers, some of whom had come from as far away as Switzerland and the South of France, spent the major part of the day preparing an expanded Service of Sung Evening Prayer under the experienced and imaginative direction of Stephen Disley, Sub-Organist of Southwark Cathedral, London.

While Stephen ensured that accuracy and a clear sense of direction brought the music to a peak of preparedness, he also injected much humour into the event, which resulted in the Day being a happy occasion when a great deal was learnt.

St George’s Organist, Malcolm Wisener, provided impressively supportive accompaniments, especially in the Introit, an arrangement of J S Bach’s “Auf meinen lieben Gott”, and William Mathias’ anthem based on Psalm 100, “Make a joyful noise”.

The music for the Service was based on the RSCM’s very fine Festival Service Book, Reform and Renewal, and featured items which we hadn’t used at our previous National Festival Service some five months previously, which had followed the more traditional format of Anglican Choral Evensong.

On this occasion, temporary Assistant Chaplain at St George’s, Fr Stephen McCarthy, visiting from the US, took all the participants through the history of the renewal of the Church’s worship and life.

This allowed us to take the liberty of including both the Kyrie from Palestrina’s Missa Aeterna Christi Munera and Stanford’s Magnificat in C - something that was much appreciated by both the singers and the congregation who attended the Service that followed the Singing Day!

The Day ended appropriately, on a rousing but thoughtful note, with the challenging words of Revd Jim Seddon’s hymn: “Church of God, elect and holy, be the people he intends….”

We in RSCM France trust that our having worked and learned together will help enable the Church, which we serve, better to “sing his praise, his love declare”.



Our third RSCM France Organ Day took place in the impressive surroundings of the American Church on the Quai d’Orsay, Paris, kindly organised for us by the Director of Music, Fred Gramann.

The forty-seven stop, three-manual von Beckerath instrument, built in 1988, proved ideal for the two candidates, who each spent part of the day benefiting from the wisdom and experience of Stephen Disley, Sub-Organist at Southwark Cathedral, who had come from London to be our tutor for the Day.

While one student came from the Paris area, the other had travelled from Luxembourg specially for the event.

Comments by the students, to the effect that they had learned much, and in one case, something that, despite much previous tuition, they’d never been told before, revealed something of the value of the Day’s activity.

It’s our hope that what was learned will enable them, as all our students, to serve their churches confidently and imaginatively in years to come.