history of NYC
Harbord talks to Mike Mason
|The Chorus had its origins
in singing courses organised by the then County Music Organiser, Dr
“A.J.” Bull, and subsequently by his successor Barry Griffiths, at Wrea
the North Riding County Council’s adult education centre near
Mason, from the bass section of the
Chorus, is the only current member who was at the inaugural meeting to
“North Riding Chorus” in October 1968.
Griffiths had circulated a notice to
the music staff of all the schools in the county and other singers and
trainers, and around 25 people turned up at the Allertonshire School”
committee was formed and
Mike himself was appointed Librarian.
though it was a business meeting, Barry was determined we should sing
something. So he
produced copies of Fauré’s Requiem
we sang the ‘Libera Me’.” Mike
spells on the committee ever since and has just this year (2009)
stepped down as
The first rehearsal was on
a Saturday afternoon a few weeks later, when nearly 60 people from all
over the county attended, including a small group of monks and pupils
from Ampleforth College. (The
Chorus still rehearses on Saturday
afternoons because of the long distances which
was so young then that
a creche was provided!” Mike reminisces.
“Sadly it’s not the same now: the majority of
members are retired
difference was in the
remembers that for the
first few years the Chorus received a handsome annual sum from the
Council in addition to getting free use of school halls; but nowadays,
from occasional small grants, it has to cover all costs entirely from members’
subscriptions and ticket sales.
Not everything in the Chorus' history
has been plain sailing
and it has survived some difficult periods when its future has been in
question or when it nearly ran out of money.
But the members were determined to fight on. And despite a generally
older membership, the
declining popularity of choral music and changes in concert-going
habits, Mike Mason
believes the Chorus is now as strong as ever.
“There are some younger voices in the soprano
section, which gives good
balance to the overall sound” he says. “And Greg Smith
knack of making people feel good about their singing.
Relaxed, happy singers make a nicer noise!”