Performance Standards at Westminster Abbey in 1919 – Part 2

[Sequel to the earlier post that describes how Sir Sydney Nicholson found the performing forces when he took up the post of Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey in 1919.]

“[A] scheme was worked out by which the number of Lay Vicars should be reduced to 6 full-time men with the duty of weekly rehearsals and only limited use of approved deputies, at double the previous salary. The place of the ‘Assistants’ (who were mostly ‘past their best’) was to be taken by Choral Clerks who should, as far as possible, be young men studying at one of the Colleges of Music, and only required for afternoon services and rehearsals. Each of the Lay Vicars was given the alternative of accepting the new conditions or taking a pension at his existing salary. Most of them chose the latter, and the Assistants were given small pensions or gratuities. So practically a new choir was formed, 14 out of the original 18 vacating their places and the choir being made up to 12 efficient men. With weekly rehearsals and a ‘constant’ choir it became possible to improve matters and considerable progress was made.” (106-107)

Henderson, John and Trevor Jarvis, Sydney Nicholson and His Musings of a Musician (Wakefield: Charlesworth Press, 2013), 106-107.



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