I'm a (lay) choral-vicar in a 'not-too-bad' cathedral choir. That means I sing for a living. And when I'm not singing, I'm trying to teach others how to sing. It pays the rent. Ho hum.
Saturday, 4 October 2008
The news of unseemly shenanigans at the University of Gloucester involving unfeasible quantities of alcohol and ill-fitting NAZI uniforms reminded me of initiation ceremonies we have, from time to time, indulged in here in the cathedral choir. And while they usually involve large quantities of alcohol and strange modes of apparel, they nevertheless lack the rather sinister overtones which seem to accompany membership of so many student associations. Why, who could possibly object to having to sing the melody of the Office Hymn up the octave; or to being required to sellotape the keys of the song-school piano together (thus ensuring that the DoM's first chord resembles something from the pen Harrison Birdwhistle rather than the piece of music we are meant to be rehearsing)? Or else being made to wear one's cassock back-to-front? Nevertheless, we too seem to have been overtaken by a tide of namby-pamby, limp-wristed killjoy-ism; many fondly remembered rituals are no more. For example, we no longer climb the tower on Christmas Eve to pelt the congregation for midnight mass with figs; nor do we substitute the figure of the Christ-child in the nativity with a ferret. And oh, for the days when the assistant would improvise his voluntary on well-known TV theme-tunes! Or the choral-scholars fagging for the senior lay-vicars! No, the last remaining vestige of fun these days reside in making the newest member of choir librarian. Thankfully, my own tenure fetching and carrying for the DoM and collecting in the music was brief. I persuaded my good friend Algernon Holt to fill a temporary tenor vacancy a month after I assumed lay-vicarship, and never once, as they say, looked back. Unfortunately for Algie, it was another ten years before someone else joined. Mind you, he did do an excellent job as choir librarian.
I'm a choral vicar in a not-too-bad cathedral choir although it could be better, if you ask me, if the Dean and Chapter bite the bullet and dismiss the lamentable failure of an organist. But that's another story...