Clarion Newsletter


Articles by Digital Anvil

Choir Christmas Break 2013

The choir completed its engagements for 2013 by singing Christmas music at Sainsbury’s Colne store on Monday 16th December. The choir have been given two weeks off from rehearsals (Dec 23rd and Dec 30th) and will re-commence their activities on Monday 6th January 2014.

ASDA and the 2013 Christmas Cracker

CRACKER PROGRAMME 2013 FINAL VERSION The choir completed two engagements on one memorable day, Saturday 14th December 2013. Read on for a review of the events of the day by Duncan Read, together with a photograph of the choir in action at ASDA

Presentation to Duncan Read

The Geoffrey Sutton Memorial Trophy for 2014 was presented to Duncan Read for his work in compiling the ‘Clarion’, the choir’s quarterly newsletter, and for his work in publicising the choir and in the field of new member recruitment. The presentation was made by the Choir’s Musical Director, 

Carols at Sainsbury’s Colne

The choir will sing well known carols and Christmas songs at Sainsburys Colne Supermarket on MONDAY 16TH DECEMBER at 7.15pm. All friends, supporters and anyone who happens to be in the area are welcome to join in.

Long Service Awards at Arion Annual Dinner

At the choir Annual Dinner, held on Saturday 23rd November at the Ace Centre, Nelson, four choir members were presented with long service momentos

Wilfred Byrne and James Tattersall were presented with engraved tankards recognising 40 years service, and Steve Clayton and Harry Procter were presented with framed certificates recognising 30 years service.

Recruitment Event at ASDA 2013

The choir are anxious to recruit new members and are singing in the foyer of ASDA in Colne from 10.30am on Saturday 14th December with a view to attracting interest from potential new members. They will be performing a mixture of Christmas items along with their normal repertoire. Please come and support them.

Choir Annual Dinner

The choir are holding their annual dinner on Saturday 23rd November, 7pm for 7.30pm at The Ace Centre, Cross St, Nelson. All choir members and their families, friends and patrons are invited. For further details contact Ken Hollas 01282 421994

125th Anniversary Gala Concert

The choir’s 125th Anniversary Gala Concert takes place on October 20th at St Thomas’ Church Barrowford. For full details of this exciting event, please seeour ‘Events’ page.

Recruitment and Membership Press Article

Choir secretary Ken Hollas was interviewed by the Lancs Evening Telegraph recently, and the following article was published giving details of the problems in recruiting new members.


Annual General Meeting 23rd July 2013

The choir held its AGM on Monday 22nd July and there follows the Chairman’s, Treasurer’s and Conductor’s reports which give details of the choir’s activities over the past year and plans for the future




I present my first annual report, possibly unique as the first non-singing Chairman. If you have heard me sing, you would be happy to keep me in a non-singing capacity. 

Over the past year the choir have fulfilled the following engagements

11.08 12      Funeral of Clifford Spencer

18. 08 12     Pendle Witches event at Barley

04.09.12      Funeral of Leo Brammer

09.09.12      Men of Pendle at Colne Muni

20.10.12      125th Anniversary concert with Co-op Opera

18.11.12      St Luke’s Church, Brierfield

15.12.12      Christmas Cracker at Colne Muni

17.12.12      Towneley Hall

15.02.13      Funeral of Serle Lloyd

23.03.13      Joint Concert with Nelson Civic

08.04.13      Funeral of Mary Hudson

11.05.13      Music in May with The Ardenettes

22.06.13      Brass & Voices with Nelson Brass

13 engagements in total, compared with 14 the previous year

Your Choir Committee met on 7 occasions during the year

Three social events were held

03.09.12      Pie and pea supper at the Thatch & Thistle – Members 80th Birthday celebrations.

02.11.12      125th Anniversary Dinner at the Ace Centre, Nelson

06.12.12      Members Christmas Dinner at Thatch & Thistle.

It was decided that future Annual Dinners should take place in November rather than in February, when we have, of late, been at the mercy of the weather.

Looking back over the Chairman’s report at the 2012 AGM, he remarked that he could almost read the same one again, and this is the case this year also. Little seems to have changed, apart from choir numbers gradually reducing, but we remain a reasonably busy choir although fulfilling one less engagement than the year before -13 as against 14, but this number is 3 less than the year before   (2010-2011)

Our performances are still well received, but it remains hard work, particularly for Frank, to keep the standard high.

MEMBERSHIP 2012-2013

We currently have 42 members plus Frank and John against 44 in last year’s report

Membership comprises

14 First Tenors

9   Second Tenors

7   Baritones

12 Bass


Ken Burgess

Derek Burnett

Wilf Byrne

Andy Carter

Stuart Douglas

Peter Entwistle

Tony Hughes

Brian Ingham

Duncan Read

Tom Rothera

Dennis Rushton

John Shaw

Clive Spencer

Roy Webb


Peter Belton

Philip Bentley

Andy Brown

Steve Clayton

Denis Kirkbride

Jim Monkhouse

Jim Tattersall

Andy Wild

Tony Wilson


Chris Dennis

Brian Gott

Ben Healy

Steve Johnson

Les Hammond

John Lloyd

Bill Peacock


Bill Bamford

Ian Hargreaves

Peter Heales

Ken Hollas

Neville Hudson

Bill Lord

Neville Mitchell

Harry Procter

Derrick Riley

Peter Roberts

Alan Wardley

Allan Walker

We welcomed back Stuart Douglas and, of course, Neville Hudson after a protracted absence, and were pleased to welcome new members Andy Carter and Ben Healy but said goodbye to Gerry Brown, Gerry Stott, Clifford Spencer and Leo Brammer.

There are queries about several members who we have not seen for some time and they have not been included in the figures above, apart from Peter Heales who is included.

So, at our maximum, we can sing 42 voices.

Sadly I have to report the deaths of Leo Brammer and Clifford Spencer, although Cliffords death was reported in last years report, but he actually died in the year under review.

In the past year the choir had 40 rehearsals as against 45 the year before, with an average attendance of  84.46%, 1419 out of a possible 1680. Last year the percentage was 79.31%

This is the bare bones of the choir’s activities in the last choir year.

THANKS to all the following for their contribution to the life of the choir in the past year. I’m sorry if this list seems a little soulless, but all the people’s contributions are greatly appreciated.

Ian Hargreaves as Deputy Chairman and Treasurer.

Ken Hollas as Secretary

Jack Davies for his record keeping, committee work and for his continued commitment to the choir.

The Committee for their commitment to the smooth running of the choir.

John Shaw and Tony Hughes for their work with the staging. Congratulations to John Shaw on being awarded the Geoffrey Sutton Memorial Trophy at last year’s 125th Anniversary Dinner

Duncan Read for the Clarion and his publicity work.

Alan Wardley and Brian Gott  for their invaluable work as librarians

Pam Taylor for selling our CDs (and chocolates) at concerts and to wives and partners who have helped manning ‘front of house’ and selling programmes and raffle tickets.

The Recruitment sub committee.

Clive Spencer for his work on Gift Aid .

Andy Brown for running the weekly raffle.

To HigherfordMethodistChurch and particularly John Moore for invariably being welcoming.

To our patrons whose financial support and presence at concerts is invaluable.

On the musical side, thanks once again to Frank Smith, our Music Director, for his drive and musical guidance and for his patience – it must be dispiriting sometimes. Again, I wait with interest what he has to say in his report.

Thanks to John Taylor, accompanist and deputy conductor. As always, quietly and conscientiously doing his job and filling in for Frank when necessary.

To Chris Dennis, our deputy accompanist, standing in for John on the occasion of John’s having to conduct, or being away

Finally, thanks to those good and faithful members of the choir for their continued commitment.

I hope that I haven’t missed anyone, but if I have, my apologies and thanks.


When you scrutinize the choir’s engagements over the last year, it strikes a melancholy note in that 4 out of the 13 engagements were for funerals. I won’t pre-empt what Frank might have to say, but the level of concert activity has dropped alarmingly, and of all the concerts in which we participated, none involved the choir performing a full 2*45 minute halves concert.

A long serving member recently spoke to the Choir Secretary expressing exactly these sentiments, and urging members to explore the possibility of performing more concerts in the locality. It doesn’t take much for choir members to spread the word that the Arion are available to perform concerts. You make the first contact and then pass it over to the committee to make progress. It’s no good having a wonderful rehearsal record and then having no-one to sing to.

The choir’s engagement diary for the rest of 2013 and into 2014 is less than full, and the engagements that we do have are mainly the ones that we promote ourselves. Even at those concerts, there are choir members who simply want to come and sing, and not give any more assistance to the choir to keep it moving forward – or just to keep it afloat

The membership situation continues to be a major cause for concern, and to try and improve things a recruitment sub-committee has been established. A recruitment event at ASDA in Colne was set up, but sadly, had to be abandoned due to lack of support by choir members. It is hoped that we can do this event at a later date, with better choir support, and we look forward to other recommendations by the sub committee.

As has been said over the past few years, recruitment of new members is vital to the survival of the choir.  Every member of the choir should see themselves as a ‘recruiting sergeant’ and make every effort to spread the word.

This completes my report, and I conclude by hoping that everyone enjoys their participation in what is a worthwhile pastime both musically and socially but increased involvement of choir members is vital for the well-being and survival of the choir.




The Treasurer reported that the choir had not had a good year, incurring a loss of £2365.21.

The reasons for this were that

1. No sponsorship of Christmas Cracker losing the choir £1000

2. Income from the Christmas Cracker was £700 less than the previous year.

3. The Celebrity Concert (125th Anniversary Gala Concert) lost £1000

4. The choir did few concerts for outside bodies on a fee basis, usually a reliable source of income.

The Treasurer urged choir members to try and obtain more ‘business’ for the choir and to sell more tickets for the concerts which we promote ourselves.

In view of the unsatisfactory financial situation, the Treasurer recommended that annual subscriptions increase from £50 to £60

The Choir Auditor reported that the choir’s books of account were in exemplary order.


Mr Smith, in commencing his report, remarked that the choir Chairman had covered much of the ground in his report.

He shared the general unease about the number of concerts the choir performed in the last year- our own concerts do not necessarily make money, and external concerts bring in fees.

On the financial front, Mr Smith said that he was prepared to host an ‘open house ‘to raise funds.

On the musical front, performances were generally still very good, but the problems with numbers remain. Smaller numbers are not necessarily a drawback provided that every member pulls his weight, particularly as regards availability for concerts and keeping the conductor informed as to absences, whether for concerts or rehearsals – improved communication is essential.

Finally, Mr Smith urged all members to be active in bringing in new members to the choir.

Arion Summer Break No rehearsals 29 JULY 5TH, 12TH, 19TH 26TH AUG

The choir takes its usual summer break, the final rehearsal taking place on 22nd July and resuming on 2nd September.

Brass and Voices Concert 22nd June 2013

This concert took place very successfully at Christ Church, Nelson, and a review follows

It is a well known fact that Brass Bands and Male Voice Choirs go together like strawberries and cream or beer and sandwiches.

On Saturday 22nd June, two heavyweights of the local music scene came together to give a joint concert.  Nelson Brass, founded in 1862 and Nelson Arion Male Voice Choir, founded in 1887, have never before shared the concert platform, at least not in living memory, and the result made everyone concerned – band, choir and audience, think “why haven’t we done this before?”

Before a near-capacity audience at Christ Church in Nelson, the Arion, as always under the baton of Frank Smith, started with the sturdy “With a Voice of Singing” by Martin Shaw and continued to perform classics of the choral repertoire by Schubert, Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten before ending their first half contribution in lighter vein with “Away From the Roll of the Sea” and the always popular spiritual, “Amen.”

Nelson Brass, under the expert baton of Musical Director, Roy Waite, commenced their programme in traditional brass band style with the march “High Command”, followed by the brass band arrangement by Gordon Langford of “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose”; a fine, sensitive arrangement beautifully played by the their 17 year old Principal Cornet, Jemma Banks.  This was followed by the selection “West Side Story”, well known but not the easiest of pieces to play, admirably mastered by the band and MD Roy Waite. “American Trilogy”, arranged by Goff Richards, completed the band’s first half ‘set’, a piece also in the repertoire of the choir who were hard put not to join in, although they would not have been able to make themselves heard at the’ big finish’.

After the interval, Nelson Brass continued to impress and delight the audience with “A Time for Peace” by Peter Graham, featuring a fine contribution by their Solo Horn player, Kate Marney.  A lovely arrangement of the favourite hymn tune “The Day Thou Gavest” (St Clement) followed and the pace was picked up by an excellent performance of the Bass Solo, “Bass in the Ballroom” by the band’s young Solo EEb Bass player, Daniel Heap.  What is it about bass soloists that raises a smile?  Every time a bass player performs a solo, it seems suffused with good humour and Daniel’s performance was no exception.

Nelson Brass ended with a performance of “Finlandia” by Sibelius.  This is a wonderful piece of music, given full justice by Roy Waite and his players.

It fell to Nelson Arion to perform the final ‘spot’ in the concert, and they sang items from the lighter end of the male voice repertoire.  “Pendle Hill” is a nostalgic piece written by a former choir member remembering his homeland during the second world war and this was followed by a Russian folk song “The Silver Birch” and the spiritual “I’m Gonna Walk”. Much  to the audience’s delight, the choir sang two items the rousing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and finished with the ever popular “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific.  At least this was going to be the final item, but Ken Burgess brought the house down by taking the lead in “Goodbye” from ‘White Horse Inn’, an appropriate ending (almost) to the proceedings.

The Grand Finale involving band, choir and audience was “Jerusalem” conducted by Roy Waite, and this sent everyone home happy and hoping that it wouldn’t be over 100 years before the band and choir got together again.

Ken Hollas

Recruitment Event at ASDA

This event has been postponed due to lack of availability of singers to perform on the day. This event has been postponed but not cancellad and details of the new date will be published here as soon as it is known.

Arion and Civic present cheque for mayoress’s charity fund

Arion and Civic present cheque for mayoress’s charity fund

Nelson Civic Treasurer Barbara Martinus and Nelson Arion Secretary Ken Hollas present the Mayor of Pendle, Councillor Asjad Mahmood, with a cheque for £700.the proceeds of their joint concert. The money will go to the Mayoress’s Charity Fund which benefits four good causes in the area.