gerontius newsletter - June 2014

Dear choral music lover,

Welcome to this month’s Gerontius newsletter. We’re doing things a bit differently from now on. We want to make the newsletter more interesting and relevant to all our choir members, so we’ll be including specially-written content, and (starting next time!) a lot more news and information from you.

Our focus this month is wedding choirs. Many of you will already be hiring your choir out for weddings (and other celebrations and events) but the Gerontius team has received a few emails lately asking for more guidance on how to go about this, so we thought we would share a few ideas with you.

The next newsletter in September will look at how choirs mark special events and anniver-saries. We know a lot of you have been staging concerts to commemorate the centenary of WWI, so please, let us know what you have been doing. What plans do you have for next year and beyond? Please email me a short summary (250 words max) as soon as you like, and we will include as many as we can in the September newsletter. Then in November, we will focus on commissioning new music.

Newsletter contents
1. Singing at Weddings
2. Lacock
3. Singing at Weddings (continued)
4. Making Music
5. Alberon Web Development
6. Site Sponsors
7. Next gerontius newsletter - September 2014

Singing at Weddings

Wedding Choirs
Wedding Choirs
Wedding Choirs

Ideas and tips from Andrew Pritchard and Denise Ault, Oxford Bach Choir

Why do it?

Singing at weddings is a lot of fun, a chance to sing different repertoire, an opportunity to raise the choir’s profile, and a way of earning significant sums for choir funds.

How to go about it

Get a volunteer or committee member to take responsibility. Sign up a “wedding team” of singers who are keen to take part - more than you actually need to allow for people being away on holiday. Your conductor(s) needs to be on board too. Know what repertoire you can offer (the music you can access, and the level of difficulty you can take on).

How to promote

Photos are very useful for publicity, and a demo CD/MP3 or a video clip (watch out for copy-right restrictions). Word of mouth and your own concert programmes are effective and free. Your choir’s website should have a page explaining what you can offer and who to con-tact. Prepare a simple leaflet you can print yourself. Many local wedding magazines are pub-lished, but advertising rates can be very high.

You can advertise on Gerontius in the Choirs for Hire section. This costs £50 per year, and allows people to search for a choir near to them. Most Google searches for “wedding choirs” or “choirs for hire” will show Gerontius on the first page of the search results.

What to charge

Estimate your own costs first. You’ll need at least one rehearsal, a conductor, and the mu-sic. Are you providing the organist too? How far is the venue, and will your conductor or singers expect travel expenses? Is the wedding a mass, which will take longer?

What you can charge then depends on where you are, how many you are, who you are, and quite frankly, how good you are. In the South East, £600 for a choir of 12-15 people is about right, but in central London it could be more, and less elsewhere. Don’t undersell yourselves - people spend a lot of money on weddings these days, and this will not be a big percentage of the overall budget.

Once you have a booking, confirm the arrangements with the couple or wedding organiser in writing. A simple letter of agreement should state the agreed fee and the start/finish times, what you will sing and how many people you will provide. Ask them to sign and return a copy together with the fee, otherwise you may be chasing it for months. Making Music can help with PRS fees and insurance.

Ask the couple what they would like the choir to wear - usually smart dresses and suits, but choir uniform, cassocks, or DJs for the men could also be offered.

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The Lacock organisation runs week-long early music courses for choral singers led by some of the best conductors in the field. We gather together a balanced group of voices and work hard on the music during the day, relax together over supper in the evening and give a concert at the end of the week. Here are some of our courses in 2014. The full details are on our web site

June – Monteconero, Italy: a workshop on vocal technique with Ghislaine Morgan and a week of Monteverdi madrigals with Jeffrey Skidmore of Ex Cathedra in a mountaintop former monastery on the Adriatic (pictured)

July – Corsham, Wiltshire: Tallis, Byrd, Monteverdi and Bach in a small Cotswold town with JanJoost van Elburg

August – Trogir, Croatia (pictured): Phillips and Deering in an old Venetian port on the Dalmatian coast near Split with Justin Doyle

September – Jimena de la Frontera, Spain: Guerrero, Victoria and Lobo in an Andalusian pueblo blanco with Eamonn Dougan of The Sixteen (pictured)

December (between Christmas and New Year) – Ludlow, Shropshire: The Ludlow Winter School

You will find more information about all these courses and conductors on the Lacock web site To join our emailing list to receive alerts when new courses are announced, email us at

Singing at Weddings (continued)

Wedding Choirs Feature
Wedding Choirs Feature
Wedding Choirs Feature

What to sing

Several anthologies of music suitable for church weddings are available - these can often be hired via the public library system or the publishers if you can’t afford a set. You could also check the Gerontius music hire section. There are various websites which offer repertoire ideas and CDs - useful for the couple getting married too.

Church organs vary in quality, and so do their organists! Make sure that both can cope with the music selected. It’s also sensible to check that the officiant is happy with the music and where it fits in the proceedings. Ask to see a copy of the couple’s Order of Service before-hand, and check for bear traps such as different words or verse order for the hymns.

Civil weddings are trickier - no religious music or texts are allowed. But again, if you just type “Sheet music for weddings” or similar into Google, and you’ll find many websites offering ideas and downloads of choral arrangements of pop songs. Part songs, madrigals, folk songs, jazz and blues arrangements can also be suitable.

It can be easier to photocopy hymns to avoid holding heavy hymn books - but otherwise, don’t! If you have to acquire new music, you should add this to your fee.

Music folders make the ensemble look much smarter, and help singers to hold a combination of books and sheet music.

Arrangements for the day

Visit the church or venue beforehand, and if possible meet there with the couple and the offi-ciant to agree how everything will work. Take the opportunity to find out about the parking, the loos, and any vital keys or switches for lights or the organ.

Rehearse at the church or venue beforehand - if anyone gets stuck in traffic, they may still make it for the service itself! Make sure everyone has clear directions, and check online for road works a couple of days beforehand. Allow time in the schedule for food, if necessary - no one sings well with an empty stomach!

Other ideas

Remember you could also offer to sing at the reception! Particularly if it’s a civil ceremony and not much music was involved in the service. Choirs are also booked for conferences, garden parties, birthday parties, funerals, Christmas carols and many other events…

We hope this article has been useful. Remember, you can always share your knowledge and experience, or ask questions that other choirs might answer, on the Gerontius discussion forum.

A special thanks to the Canterbury Singers and Antiphon for use of their photos.

Crossing the boring stuff off the Wedding list...

Making Music
Making Music

If your choir is performing at a wedding, you’ll want to focus all of your energies on giving a great performance for the happy couple’s big day. What you probably won’t want to worry about is all of the little logistical things that go with putting on any kind of musical performance – things like public liability insurance and PRS royalties.

Thankfully, Making Music is on hand to help its members cross all of these things of their to-do lists, so they can concentrate on the music. By joining us, you can get access to our excellent public liability insurance and easy-to-use PRS royalty service. We can also provide resources to help you record your choir and create CDs to sell or give away as promotional tools.

Membership subscription is based on your group’s income, and you can become Group members for as little as £36 excluding insurance. To learn more, visit

Alberon Web Development


Reading Phoenix Choir
Reading Phoenix Choir

We are a web development company based in Oxford that specialise in building high quality websites for a variety of clients in and around Oxfordshire and the UK.

We have teamed up with the folks over at Gerontius to offer you a great deal that will get your choir on the web with your very own website.

This package can be tailored to your individual needs and is by no means set in stone, we are happy to add any features you require - to make sure this website works for you and your choir.

The base package gives you:

  • A professionally-built website that's easy to edit and update yourselves.
  • Your own UK domain name, ‘’.
  • Up to 5 personal domain email addresses.
  • 1 Year full hosting with us on our own fully secured servers.
  • Up to 10 web pages filled with any content you’d like.
  • A blog for your up and coming news and events.
  • A fully working email contact form.

The starting price for this package is from as little as £1950

Optional extras include (but are not limited to):

  • Integrated PayPal setup to allow you to sell your CD’s/ songs online.
  • An image gallery for organising all the great pictures of your choir in action.
  • A music player live on the site.
  • A member area for choir documents, rehearsal calendars etc.

To discuss your needs and to find out what Alberon can do for you, please contact:

Tim or Steve at Alberon

Telephone: 01865 794009


Take a look on our website for clients we have already worked with:

Gerontius Site Sponsors

Many thanks to the following:


Chameleon Arts Orchestras and soloists

Rayburn Tours

Chameleon Wedding Music

Alberon - web design

Note Perfect

Next gerontius newsletter - September 2014

The next gerontius newsletter will be sent in September. If you have an item you would like to include, please let us know as soon as possible so we can reserve you a space.

For further details and previous newsletters please see:

We always welcome feedback about the site.

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Tim Ault

Gerontius website

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