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NEWSLETTER NO.23 : 09/07


Dr Harry Bramma Dr Stephen Cleobury Dr Vernon Handley Richard Hickox

Michael Gough Matthews Ursula Vaughan Williams

Dr John Birch Lady Bliss Dr Denys Darlow Dr Donald Hunt Richard Lloyd Dr Roy Massey

Hilary Macnamara Richard Popplewell Dr Christopher Robinson

Edwin Roxburgh Patrick Russill Richard Seal Howard Shelley

Angus Watson


Professor Peter Godfrey, New Zealand Dr Gerre Hancock, USA Dr H June Nixon, Australia

Dr Barry Smith, South Africa Professor Hugh McLean, Canada


Chairman : Dr Martin Neary LVO.

Secretary : Andrew Millinger, 32 Barleycroft Road, Welwyn Garden City,

Herts AL8 6JU

Tel : 01707 335315 E mail :

Treasurer : Robert Ascott, 17 Staveley Court, 9 Staveley Road, Eastbourne, BN 20 7 JS

Tel 01323 728892 E mail : [Please note change of address / tel no.]

Membership Secretary :

Ros Saunders, 7 Temple West Mews, West Square, London SE 11 4 TJ

Tel : 020 7820 8376

E mail :

North American Membership Secretary:

Bruce Neswick 869 Peachtree Street NE # 804, Atlanta, GA, USA 30319 – 1261

Tel : [office] (1) 404 365 1051

Fax : [office] (1) 404 237 3503

E mail : [home] [work]

Committee Members : Andrew Lumsden Dr John Rutter CBE

Legal Adviser : Graham Field Honorary Auditor : Sarah Bradley
We report the sad death of Michael Mayne, one of our Vice-Presidents, and the Dean of Westminster during the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. Michael was a strong supporter of the Howells Society and allowed his house in the Abbey to be used for several of the receptions held in the early days of the Society. In November 1992, the Dean & Chapter’s financial support made it possible to put on the Howells Centenary concert in the Abbey, including several first performances.
We are delighted to report the appointment of the CBE to our committee member, Dr. John Rutter, in the New Year Honours list. John is one of the most successful (if not the most successful) choral composers in the world, a prolific choral conductor, recording artist and editor. We are most grateful for his continuing support of the Herbert Howells Society, and his invaluable advice. One of the major tasks he undertook on behalf of the Society was the editing and completion of Howells Piano Concerto No.1, which – without his efforts – would probably have remained unknown for many more years.
Our Chairman, Martin Neary, continues to make regular visits to the USA. He is Artistic Director of the Pacific Academy of Ecclesiastical Music in San Diego, and earlier this year he was Artist-in–residence at the University of California at Davis. He has formed a new group, the Millennium Consort Singers, based in Los Angeles, who are specialising in renaissance and contemporary repertoire. He has also been the Music Director for another recording of The Choirboys, whose Carols album includes a new arrangement by John Rutter of his composition “What sweeter music”

The Society’s Annual General Meeting and Howells Evensong are being held this year in Westminster Abbey on Saturday 27th October (as previously announced). (NB only members are eligible to vote at the AGM, although guests are welcome to attend).

  • AGM in the Jerusalem Chamber at 12.00 to be chaired by Martin Neary

  • Members free to take lunch locally before Evensong from around 12.30

  • Evensong at 15.00; please try to be in the Abbey by 14.40 and advise the Stewards that you are a member of the Herbert Howells Society party.

  • Evensong will be followed by a reception in Jerusalem Chamber.

The Abbey Choir will be away touring in Australia, and will therefore not be able to be present. However, as in some previous years, the Collegiate Singers will be singing the services that weekend, and will sing Evensong on the Saturday. Apart from voluntaries by Howells (Master Tallis’s Testament before the service and Rhapsody No. 3 in C# minor after), the service will include: Psalms 137 & 138 using a Howells chant; the Mag & Nunc will be the Howells Sarum setting, the Responses will be the Humphrey Clucas setting, and the anthem will be the rarely heard Sequence for St Michael, written for the 450th anniversary of the founding of St John’s College, Cambridge

Those wishing to attend the AGM, Evensong and the Reception, or only some of these, are requested to fill in the reply form at the end of the Newsletter so that the necessary arrangements can be made.
Last year’s AGM and annual Howells Service were held in New College, Oxford on Saturday 14 October. The event was a tremendous success, not only musically, with excellent performances by the choir of New College conducted by Dr Edward Higginbottom, but also complemented by a fascinating talk before the AGM by Professor Lionel Pike of the University of London.
Professor Pike is no stranger to the works of Howells, having recorded a number of items with the choir of Royal Holloway College, of which he was the Organist and Director of Chapel Music for many years. The title of his splendidly illustrated talk was “Flights of fancy: codes and keys”, in which Professor Pike looked at 'Newman's Flight' (from Howells' Clavichord) and showed how Howells had proceeded to capitalise on Newman’s then secret work on the “Enigma project”. He also discussed certain J S Bach motifs and compared them with Howells’ themes.
Members were able to enjoy the gardens of the college before Professor Pike’s talk, after which the AGM was held. This was followed by a splendid tea in Hall, and then we went to the Chapel for excellent performances of the New College Mag & Nunc and The House of the Mind, an anthem heard all too infrequently. We were also treated to Behold O God our Defender as a ‘bonus’ and the Organ scholar played the Organ Sonata at the end of the service.
The day ended with a reception with wine and canapés in a room in the Fellows’ part of the college. All together this was a splendid day, and we are most grateful to Edward Higginbottom for facilitating all of the arrangements and conducting the choir, and to Lionel Pike for his excellent talk.
I wrote last year about the discussions leading to the setting up of the Herbert Howells Trust at St John’s College, Cambridge. These discussions have continued as the College has gone through the process of obtaining approval from the Charity Commissioners. I can now report that the Commissioners have finally granted approval and the Trust’s representatives and the Society are beginning to collect the backlog of royalties and other payments which are due to the Trust, as provided for in Ursula Howells’ will.
The first ‘formal’ meeting between the Trust’s representatives and the Society was held early in February, at which a number of arrangements were agreed. These include :

  • The Society’s Secretary will act as the focal point for all requests from third parties for financial support for recordings, concerts, publications, etc. He will review requests, and decide (with the committee) which of the (smaller) items might be met by the Society and which should be referred to the Trust. He will advise the Trust’s representatives (taking advice from others on the Society’s committee and outside contacts where appropriate) on which requests should be considered favourably.

  • He will act as the contact between the Trust’s representatives and applicants for support.

  • The Society’s Officers and the Trust’s representatives will meet three times each year to discuss requests, and other issues relating to promoting the work of the Trust

  • Whether a piece of music written by Howells should be published or not; and if so, by whom (bearing in mind the specific market areas covered by each publisher, so as to avoid pieces being published by companies not well represented in that type of music). Also, to consider whether pieces written very early in his lifetime are better not published at all, but remain as manuscripts for study by music scholars.

  • Whether pieces should be arranged for different instruments than those for which they were originally written.

  • Whether pieces where the copyright agreement has expired should be re-licensed to the same or to a different publisher.

  • Whether publishers (not the original publisher) should have permission to include a piece in a ‘collection’ or for a special ‘one-off’ pamphlet.

As members will be aware, the Bach Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Hill, recorded Hymnus Paradisi and Sir Patrick Spens last September. The soloists are Claire Rutter (soprano), James Gilchrist (tenor) and Roderick Williams (baritone). This recording issued by Naxos ( 8.570352) was released in June to critical acclaim. It was given its first broadcast to coincide with the release date in a programme of mainly Howells works on Classic FM in the evening concert one night in June.
The first half of Sir Patrick Spens was broadcast later on Radio 3’s CD Review.
The recording has subsequently received excellent reviews in “Gramophone”, Classic FM Magazine and BBC Music Magazine. BBC Music Magazine also carried an interview with David Hill about the recording.
The vocal score is available from Novello / Music Sales, and the full score and parts are available for hire from Novello.
Because Sir Patrick Spens is so little known, the Secretary was asked to assist in the preparation of the “sleeve notes” for the recording, and the author of the notes (Andrew Burn) was able to draw upon the extensive work produced by our member, the Revd. Dr. Paul Andrews (who produced the ‘sleeve notes’ for the Priory Complete Canticles recordings) on the history of the composition and the first (and until now) only performance. The Secretary also provided the texts of both works. This meant researching the many different versions of the poem (I counted about 25 before stopping ..) There are a few minor differences between the words Howells chose to set and the closest version of the poem. We also provided “translations” of some of the words which would not be familiar to modern-day readers. In return, Naxos provided information about the Society in the sleeve notes.
I am pleased to announce that the Bach Choir is planning to include Sir Patrick Spens in its 2008-09 season in a programme commemorating the works of two of its former Vice-Presidents, Howells and Vaughan Williams. The concert, the date for which is not yet confirmed, would include Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis, The Lark Ascending and Sancta Civitas together with Howells’ Sir Patrick Spens and his orchestral arrangement of 1977 of the Collegium Regale Te Deum of 1944. The orchestra would be the Philharmonia.
We are delighted that the new recording of “Sir Patrick Spens” has attracted so much attention in such a short period since its release. The Society was contacted a couple of months ago by “Choir & Organ” magazine in connection with a projected article on this work, based on interviews with David Hill. The magazine Editor and Assistant Editor were in touch about the possibility of our providing suitable photographs of Howells to illustrate the article.
I am pleased to say that the magazine were able to use quite a number of photos, including one which has never been seen publicly before of Howells as a young man, wearing glasses. This was taken at around the time the composer was writing the work in 1917.
These photos (donated to the Society some years ago by Ursula Howells) are held by the Secretary for use in such circumstances to illustrate articles, CD sleeve notes, etc.
We are not able to reproduce the article for the Newsletter, but copies of the September / October issue can be purchased online at , or from the Choir & Organ subscriptions department (tel: 020 8606 7506). I will however bring along a couple of copies of the issue concerned at the AGM.
Further news of “Spens”. Radio 3’s weekly programme on Choral Music (“The Choir” at 18.30 – 20.00) on Sunday 7th October concentrates on the work of David Hill as a choral and orchestral conductor. He is Musical Director of the Bach Choir and was recently appointed Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers. This programme will include a complete performance of the Naxos recording of Sir Patrick Spens.
The Society and Trust received a request for funding for the third triennial English Song Weekend, organised by the Finzi Friends. Although the Trust was unable at that time to offer funds, because it had not then received the various royalties, due from publishers and performing rights organisations, I thought it worthwhile to let members know the range of songs performed during that weekend.
This was held in Ludlow, Shropshire at the end of May – early June. The aims of the event were to encourage more interest in English song, to bring forward the work of composers that have been neglected but deserve to be heard, and to encourage present day composers. During the Weekend, 6 recitals and five talks were held. The fifteen Howells songs sung were:

Gavotte, The Widow Bird, Girls Song, Alas, Alack!, The Dunce, Full Moon, Miss T., Lady Caroline,

The Old Soldier, The Old House, King David, Andy Battle, Before Dawn, Come sing and dance, Flood.
The Chairman of the committee organising this event was Paul Spicer, who continues to do so much for the music of Howells.
Organ Music : Rhapsody; Second Organ Sonata; Partita
As some of you who were at the last AGM will be aware, Robert Costin released a CD of Howells' organ music last August on the New Zealand label Atoll

( It has received some excellent reviews, most recently in the International Record Review:


The organ music of Herbert Howells has been so well served on disc in the past few decades that it is no longer a rarity to encounter it in the record catalogues, but few CDs approach the excellence of performance of this issue from the New Zealand company Atoll.   
It is first-class in every respect, from the choice of repertoire to the depth of understanding given to this music by Robert Costin, who exhibits an intensity and admirable sense of forward momentum in his playing ­ especially in the Rhapsody ­ that should certainly not be taken for granted. His insight into this music is complete, which is exceptional in having been written over a 54-year period. The fine performance of the Rhapsody is followed by a thrilling account of the mighty Second Sonata, probing and compelling music which finds Costin fully understanding of its great lines in the first two movements ­ the first-movement coda is superbly done ­ and consistently of its character, especially in the rhythmic organization in the finale.
These same qualities of performance inhabit the splendid Partita ­ written for Edward Heath when he became Prime Minister in 1970, fulfilling a promise Howells made about 30 years earlier (that if Heath ever became Prime Minister he would write a work for him) when the musician-politician was organ scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. (Not to be outdone, Margaret Thatcher invited Lorin Maazel to dinner at Downing Street, and got the French Prime Minister to attend the Proms with her.) The Partita's fourth movement Sarabande for the 12th day of any October (Vaughan Williams's birthday, ­ Mrs Thatcher's is the 13th!), is followed by Finale and Retrospect, in which a host of musical allusions are cleverly interwoven in a fascinating tapestry.
The choice of repertoire here has been carefully selected. There is nothing forbidding about these pieces, the product of a sensitive, original and imaginative genius (not too strong a word) and ­as indicated earlier ­Costin plays admirably throughout. The recording is very good, at times outstandingly so...this is an excellent disc which would make a very good introduction to Howells’s organ music.

International Record Review, March 2007


Vista and Priory both recorded complete surveys of Howells's organ music, but listeners to this single-disc sample can feel well content. The second op.17 Rhapsody, the Second Sonata and Intrata and the austere late Partita are all abstract works, spanning 50 years, and unusual in the composer's output for being unencumbered with melancholy personal baggage or local association. Robert Costin has chosen his organ well, an English touring organ of plain-peaking reeds that eventually fetched up in the unclouded space of Dunedin Town Hall. This is Howells, but not as you know him, virile and dramatic.

Choir and Organ Magazine, March/April 2007.


Costin makes a fabulous job of the Organ Sonata No. 2, maintaining interest for the whole of its twenty-nine-plus minutes with masterly control of registration and impetus. The contrasting moods of the opening Vivo are perfectly judged, and Costin conveys the long-arch-like span of the slow movement. He also sustains wonderfully the excitement and, to an extent, tension of the concluding Allegro assai. By any standards this is a most arresting performance of one of Howells' finest compositions...[the organ] sounds ideally suited to Howells' music and possesses a complete range of cathedral-like tone colours - Gloucester comes to mind - that Costin fully exploits.

The Organ Magazine, November 2006.


The recording is available in the UK from Allegro Music ( and in New Zealand from  or

We are told that the CD was in the top ten classical charts on Radio New Zealand for three weeks last August. This is quite an achievement and we wonder what HH would have made of it !

All Saints Northampton
The Society has been approached by Lee Dunleavy, Organist of All Saints Northampton, about the possibility of some financial support for a projected recording of several pieces by Howells which have not been recorded previously. The Howells pieces to be recorded are : A maid peerless; Lord, who createdst man; My master hath a garden; O, my deir hart; The Shepherd.
These are all in the category “sacred music for upper voices and piano” and three of the pieces have not been recorded before. A Maid Peerless was recorded by John Scott and the trebles of Saint Paul’s Cathedral with the RPO in the early 1990s, and O my deir hart (written for Ursula Howells on her birth) has been recorded by Catherine Pierard and Julius Drake on Chandos. The others will be ‘first recordings’. The timing of the recording is probably going to be early 2008, with the CD released sometime later in that year. It is likely to be called “A Maid Peerless”
Herbert Howells Anthems : Volume 1
As previously announced, the Collegiate Singers, conducted by the Secretary, have recorded the first volume of Howells Anthems for Priory Records. This was recorded in February this year in All Saints Margaret Street in London, which contains a marvellous 4 manual Harrison & Harrison organ of 1910, which was recently overhauled and re-built (but with very few tonal alterations). The organ was therefore regarded as being ‘ideal’ for Howells’ music.
The repertoire includes a number of world premiere recordings. The complete list is:
Three Motets [1944 – 1954] (God is gone up, The House of the Mind and King of Glory); Four Anthems [c. 1941] (O pray for the peace of Jerusalem, We have heard with our ears #, Like as the hart, Let God arise #); O Mortal Man [1942; edited by the late Christopher Palmer] # ; When first thine eies unveil [1925] #; Levavi oculos meos (Aubade for a wedding) [1959; edited by Paul Spicer] #; I would be true [1978] #; Exultate Deo [1974; first digital recording]
# = world première recording
The organist was Gavin Roberts, previously Organ scholar of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge and currently Assistant Director of Music at St Marylebone Parish Church.
The CD is due for release later this year on the Priory label. It is to be dedicated to Ursula Howells, who supported and encouraged the Singers during the recording of all of Howells’ Canticle settings

“Trinity Sunday at Westminster Abbey” and “Sequence for St Michael”

The choir of Westminster Abbey under Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell, with Robert Quinney, organ, have recorded the Howells Westminster Service Mag & Nunc as part of the CD named “Trinity Sunday at Westminster Abbey”. This is a recording of Matins, Eucharist and Evensong which also include Britten’s Te Deum in C major, Walton’s Jubilate, Francis Grier’s Missa Trinitatis Sanctae and Stainer’s great Trinity anthem I saw the Lord. This is on the Hyperion label CDA 67557.

On a separate CD, the same team have recently recorded Howells’ Sequence for St Michael on Hyperion CDA67643
Sounds Atmospheric” : organ music played by Christopher Stokes at Manchester Cathedral
Lammas Records have released a recording of Howells organ music (LAMM 192D) played by Christopher Stokes, the Organist of Manchester Cathedral. The programme includes :
Psalm Preludes Set 1 No. 1 & 2 ; Psalm Prelude Set 2 No. 1; Rhapsody No. 3 in C# minor; Saraband for the Morning of Easter; Master Tallis’s Testament; Saraband In modo elegiaco; and a performance of the Partita of 1971, written for Sir Edward Heath.
The organ is a large 4 manual Harrison & Harrison and the music sounds very well on the instrument.


Hymnus Paradisi
As mentioned in the previous Newsletter, we are delighted that the Full Score of Hymnus Paradisi and the orchestral parts have finally been published. We are most grateful to Paul Spicer for all of his work in editing the score and parts. The number of corrections and editing decisions needed was quite high, and there are pages of changes listed at the end of the Study Score. I am planning to bring this along to the AGM so that people can look at it and compare it with the ‘old’ version.
The new score in draft form was used for the Bach Choir recording – during which a number of corrections to parts were made – and it was used by Christopher Robinson in its final form for his performance at the Three Choirs Festival early in August this year. The study score is available from Novello / Music Sales at £ 39.95, and if any members attending the AGM / Evensong in Westminster Abbey would like to purchase a copy, please could they contact me by the 17th October, and let me have a cheque for that amount (payable to Andrew Millinger, not to the Howells Society). I will not undertake to post copies to members who are not attending the AGM as the score is large and heavy !
Orchestral arrangements of the Six Pieces for Organ
We have been contacted by a composer / arranger who has done orchestral arrangements of the Six pieces for organ. These are: “Preludio ‘Sine Nomine’”; “Saraband for the Morning of Easter”; “Master Tallis’s Testament”; “Fugue, Chorale and Epilogue”; “Saraband in modo elegiaco”; “Paean”. It is possible that these arrangements could be published and recorded, although there is no definite news yet. We have assisted in dealing with copyright issues relating to arrangements between the arranger and the holders of the copyright (Novello)
Pastoral Rhapsody, Paradise Rondel & the Suite “The Bs”
We are in discussions about the possibility of computer setting and publishing three of Howells’ lesser known orchestral pieces : Pastoral Rhapsody ; Paradise Rondel ; the Suite "The B's". These have all been recorded by Richard Hickox with the LSO on the Chandos label. However, the full scores and parts are only available in manuscript form and none of them has yet been published. More news about this latest project next year.
Although there is no easy way of learning about performances of Howells’ music, I do hear about some (and have reported elsewhere about the Three Choirs performance of “Hymnus Paradisi” and the Finzi Friends English Song weekend amongst others).
There was an enterprising concert held on 3 March this year given by the Anton Bruckner Choir in the Temple Church in London, which included : Take him Earth for Cherishing, Here is the Little Door, Like as the Hart, Salve Regina, Let God Arise and the Collegium Regal Mag & Nunc. It is good to hear of performances of works like these, but particularly impressive to see performances of such little-known works as “Let God Arise” (which has only recently been recorded for Priory)
At this year's Cheltenham Festival, and there was a Choral Evensong including the Howells "Dallas Canticles". The Evensong was at Tewkesbury Abbey, sung by its Schola Cantorum, on Thursday 12 July. 

Also during the Festival, the Primrose Piano Quartet played the Howells Piano Quartet in their concert on Monday 16 July at 11 a.m. in the Pittville Pump Room. The Society was approached to help with information about the Dallas Canticles for the programme notes.

I was contacted late last year by Martin Kirby who has written a book called “Moon Daisy”. This refers to the novel which, although it is a work of fiction, is built on the rockbed facts of natural history and music.
The author was keen to include reference to Howells’ Three Dances for Violin & orchestra on the cover, as it features in the book itself. I was able to locate a suitable part of the second movement of the piece and gained permission (on behalf of the author) from Novello for the extract to be used as part of the cover of the book. Acknowledgements to both Novello and the Howells Society are included in the book.
Below is a brief review of the novel:

When Fenland chronicler and poet Edward Storey moved to North Wales a few years ago, he took it as a chance to "set an old song to new music. I sense the same lyrical consolation applies to Martin Kirby, who left home waters and his role as EDP deputy editor for a new life with his family on a mountain farm in Spain.

Count the Petals of the Moon Daisy, an impressive debut novel, could easily be sub- titled Lullaby of Broadland as a dual narrative reflects cherished roots and unfading influences. Yes, absence makes the pen grow fonder and a little bit of distance lends enchantment.

The story spans the Atlantic and a century as a Norfolk orphan's diary rebuilds a lost world to soothe a tormented soul. Healing joys of nature and music lift violin virtuoso Jessica Healey out of alcoholism and despair. Orphan Anna works her magic through pages dipped in compelling Norfolk history.

Despite the book's predominately watery theme, allowing ample scope for the author's full-blown love of wherries, especially the Albion, last of the black-sailed traders, I was easily drawn to episodes cast in the grim shadow of the Victorian workhouse.

Jessica's visit to Gressenhall on a wet day mirrored some of my own unease over echoes reverberating through buildings now forming a rural life museum.

I remember it as a workhouse, with "gentlemen of the road" passing through my home parish of Beeston a few miles away to seek brief sanctuary. I recall it as an old people's home, Beech House, where my mother worked in the kitchen and laundry. I officially opened the apple orchard at the museum in October sunshine in 1995 amid speculation as to exactly where the workhouse cemetery used to be .....

Plenty of other recognisable local locations on this journey of self-discovery but that first view of the old workhouse and stark companions huddled against the rain could have been painted by Dickens:" The main block, with its ranks of windows and two wings jutting out on either end, is the size of a great house. But it doesn't feel like that. It doesn't stand free. There is no grand front door, no steps up to it."

Still, we have to experience the odd briar patch to fully appreciate the rose garden, and this is essentially an uplifting saga. Indeed, I am hard pushed to recall a novel of recent years starring half as many characters bent on doing good.  A rare treat in these sour, self-centred, cynical and celebrity-infested times.

Jessica and Anna find understanding and support from family and friends when they need it most. This could be a reflection of the writer's legendary reputation for always seeing the best in others.

Or perhaps he's saving up a few dark villains for his next fictional feast.

Moon Daisy is available from Pegasus Books at £8.99 (ISBN 9781903490297)

We are planning to repeat the situation of 1992 to have all the Cathedrals and the main Collegiate Chapel Choirs performing his works in 2008 on the nearest weekend to his death on 24th February 1983.
As I wrote last year, members may also have ideas, or may be able to persuade their local musical associations (orchestras and choirs or choral societies) to perform Howells next year. If we can be of any assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to contact the Secretary.
I copy a note received recently from Maurice Bent, President of the Royal Forest of Dean Herbert Howells Society :
The Royal Forest of Dean Herbert Howells Society was founded to perpetuate the memory of this Lydney born composer and his music in this our Royal Forest of Dean. We have been successful in raising funds to erect a memorial in St. Mary’s Church Lydney which will be unveiled and dedicated on 24th February 2008 at 5 p.m. on the 25th anniversary of his death. The choristers of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter Gloucester will sing Howells’ Gloucester service Mag & Nunc.

The second Bursary auditions took place on February 10th at Whitecross School Lydney. This has been sponsored again by the Rotary Club of the Royal Forest of Dean with the sum of £500 each year. The applicants must be persons living in bounds of the Forest of Dean District Council.

Our Bursary Concert took place of March 30th in Lydney.
We have the proceeds of a Christmas concert at Monmouth Boy’s school for the Bursary fund.

The society is now a Registered Charity No 1115748.

We now have to date 62 members, anyone wishing to join the Forest society should contact Maurice V Bent on 01594 542110 (“Melrose”, Highview Road, Ruardean Hill, Drybrook, Glos GL 17 9AR )


Robert Ascott and I joined some 45 members of the North American Branch of the Herbert Howells Society during their three day visit to some of the places associated with the life and work of Howells. The tour followed a conference held in Durham for members of the Association of Anglican Musicians and the group arrived in Gloucester on Monday 9th July. The group first visited Chosen Hill and Twigworth Church (the burial place of Dorothy and Michael Howells). After a visit to the cathedral, to see amongst other things the Howells window at the East End, we were taken to tea at Priors Lodge, hosted by one of the great “characters” of Lydney who had collected amongst other things two fairground mechanical organs, which we heard performing. The family hosted nearly 50 people for a good old fashioned English tea.
On the Tuesday the group visited Bream Cross Farm (where the Howells family were staying when Michael became ill), then on to the Baptist Church and house (next to the church) in Lydney in which Howells was born. We there met Maurice Bent and others from the Forest of Dean Herbert Howells Society. We were able to play the organ on which the young Howells played, as well as visit his bedroom in the house next door.
Moving on to Lydney Church we were met by the Vicar and had a tour of the church where the young Howells was a chorister. This is the church in which the plaque (organised and paid for by the Forest of Dean Society) is situated, and it will be officially dedicated on 24th February 2008 (25 years to the day after he died). After singing “All my hope on God is founded” accompanied by Bruce Neswick on the organ, the group had lunch followed by a visit to Aylburton Church where Howells was organist for a period. A talk was given about the geography and history of the Forest of Dean.
On returning to Gloucester, the group attended Evensong in the cathedral, where Andrew Nethsingha (Organist & Master of the Choristers) conducted what was in fact his last Evensong before his move to St John’s College, Cambridge. The music appropriately included the Gloucester Service Mag & Nunc and “Take Him, Earth for Cherishing”.
Following Evensong there was a short chamber music recital in the Chapter House.
On the Wednesday the group moved to London, and after a ‘detour’ via St Paul’s Girls’ School, they arrived at the Royal College of Music where they were greeted by the Director, Colin Lawson. The group split up and some visited the Library, where lots of Howells original manuscripts were on show, and where Dr Peter Horton gave a talk and was assisted by Christopher Bornet, who is the principal Howells expert in the Library. Others meanwhile visited the Instruments Museum and saw amongst other things Howells’ clavichord which was there for repair. These visits were followed by an introduction by Ian Curror (Chairman of the Church Music Society – which has published a number of works by Howells) who talked about the Society, and this was followed by a talk from Paul Spicer, who discussed what it was like to be taught by Howells.
After a buffet lunch in the RCM, the group went to Westminster Abbey for a guided tour, and the Secretary took two groups to see the newly re-built Abbey organ console. The group then went on to St Paul’s Cathedral for Evensong, which included some Howells, before going to their hotels and spending their final night in the UK before returning to the USA.
Thanks are very much due to Bruce Neswick and his team for organising this tour, and in particular to Dr Jane Gamble who took on most of the detailed planning and liaising with the various contacts. This was a most successful tour which enabled members of the Society actually to see some of the venues about which they had read many times but never experienced. I am sure that those on the tour left with an even greater appreciation of Howells and his remarkable career, bearing in mind his humble background.
I have been asked to point out an error in one of the attachments sent out with last year’s Newsletter, and associated with the (then) forthcoming visit to Lydney. Andrew Wilson Dickson was mentioned as being the Organist of York Minster in an article published in a magazine circulated in the Forest of Dean. In fact it is believed that he was once one of the organ scholars at the Minster in the 1970s. Our apologies for not pointing out this mistake in the article.
The Secretary is happy to deal with members’ enquiries via E mail rather than by post. In addition, some members may prefer to receive Newsletters by E mail rather than by post. This would save the Society postage costs. Please advise Secretary if you would prefer this, and send details of your E mail address.
As a trial, I am sending out this Newsletter by e mail to those members for whom I have an e mail address. It is hoped that members will find this method convenient.


As announced at last year's AGM, the Committee has decided that the minimum subscription be increased from £5 to £10 per annum, with effect from 1st April 2008.   The Committee noted that the minimum subscription had remained at £5 per annum for 20 years, and felt that an increase could no longer be postponed if the Society was to continue to attend effectively to the purposes for which it exists.


Many members have generously been subscribing amounts in excess of the minimum, and most of these amounts are £10 or more.   The Committee hopes that these members too will feel able to increase their subscription, although they are not of course bound to do so.


Enclosed is a Standing Order form. Those already paying by Standing Order are requested to complete the new one and return it.   The Treasurer will not present the new order to the bank until the anniversary of the last payment.   Those members not yet using this method of payment are invited to consider doing so.

For those members who pay by cheque, rather than by standing order, subscriptions for the current year (2007-08) were due on 1 April this year. If possible, please convert to a standing order, as this makes the Treasurer’s life easier ! Please note that the Treasurer’s address and contact details have changed last year. (See front page)
Members are reminded that the income from subscriptions is used to support projects involving publication, recording and performances of the works of the composer. As far as possible, we try to limit the administration costs of running the Society.
The formal notice of the AGM is attached to the Newsletter. Please reply as soon as possible if you are intending to come to the AGM, attend the service in Westminster Abbey or attend the wine reception after Evensong on Saturday 27 October.
This is to advise members that Saturday 18th October has now been fixed for the AGM in 2008. Andrew Nethsingha, Organist of St John’s College Cambridge (and successor to Dr David Hill) has kindly agreed to this date. Apart from a talk (to be given by Paul Spicer), the AGM, and lots of Howells music at Evensong, it is hoped to be able to hold a dinner in College that evening to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Howells’ death in 1983. In order to assist us and the college authorities, it would be very helpful to have an early indication of likely attendance, in particular how many members (and guests) would be interested in attending the dinner after Evensong. For those living in London, the last train back to King’s Cross (IN THE CURRENT PERIOD) departs at 22.08 (arr. 23.47), and to Liverpool St at 22.51 arr. 0059.
The cost of dinner is not yet known, but members should assume it is of the order of £ 25 per head. Please fill in the form attached to the Newsletter.
I attach with the Newsletter a short thesis done as part of a B. Mus course by my son. This looks at the suspected reasons for the decisive change in Howells composing direction following some early disappointments. Howells, once regarded as one of the foremost composers in the early part of the 20th Century of orchestral and chamber music, changed direction away from these areas and towards music for the church (apart from the three large scale works, Hymnus Paradisi, Missa Sabrinensis and the Stabat Mater, which it could be argued are “religious” in terms of the texts used). I hope that members will find the paper interesting.
Members will be aware that both the first and second editions of Christopher Palmer’s Howells biography are no longer available from the publishers, nor from the company which took over the business of Thames Publishing. We are however in discussion with another publisher about the possibility of producing a new edition, brought up to date, and with a few errors in the original corrected. It is too early to say whether or when this might come to fruition, but we are hopeful, and are working to gain permission from the executors of Christopher Palmer to enable this to happen.

Andrew Millinger

Hon. Secretary

Herbert Howells Society newslt 23 vF

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