Thursday, 2 February 2017

A local response to the 1894 Review of Lichfield Cathedral Choir - The Mercury

In response to yesterday's review first published to the day in 1894, the local newspaper, The Mercury, published the following piece on February 2, 1894;

Lichfield Cathedral Choir 
It would be very interesting to learn what local hand has guided the judgement of the writer of a notice of our Cathedral Choir, which appears in Musical Opinion for the current month of February. Some of his conclusions are sound enough, but the paper discloses the fact of the writer has been prompted by purpose; that the details have not being acquired by casual and unpremeditated visit. The outline of his paper is that the Cathedral Choir is not enough; the boys and the tenors are good; the basses so, so; altos not equal to the tenors. The organ playing is that of a man of marked ability, who lacks enthusiasm; the choirboys are cherubs; and the Reverend GTG Hayward “the right man in the right place”. The position of the singers should be changed; the boys should be provided with the more liberal supply of books; the statutes require alteration; the foundation number of men and boys should be increased. It is unfortunate, and some will think is unjust, the local hand did not direct his critic to ascribe every good word he has written to the general excellent of the voices and the painstaking ability and hard work of Mr Lott, the Cathedral organist. Some further details might have been given him, such, for instance, as the fact that the principal boys are now imported and that the total cost of the choir probably exceeds £2,000 per annum. The critic falls foul of the City Churches, at the largest of which – Saint Mary’s – he says there is pretentious but rather unsatisfactory service. The local hand should have informed that the choir masters (having regard to a limited population) have, of necessity, to keep the boys much longer than would otherwise be the case. He does not seem to have afforded any information of the almost purely voluntary character of such services; and, in all probability, he based his opinion on a single visit, when climatic conditions may have been dead against satisfactory singing. May be, however, he took his text from his local guide. If he did not, then his conclusion is the more untenable. 
To return to the Cathedral Choir. It would be an easy matter, but it would be unjust, to single out points in detail peculiar to certain conditions and circumstances which no one would admit come up to a cathedral standard; but we are delighted to add our testimony to the general efficiency of the choral part of the Lichfield Cathedral services, and also to the organ playing. These results (outside the vocalists themselves) have to do, however, with one gentleman only and that is Mr Lott, for whom the Dean and Chapter should strictly maintain a free hand, without interference from those who know but little of the Art of which is he is so distinguished a professor.

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