March 2023

FORMER WESTMINSTER ABBEY CHORISTER NEIL MEDLAND SHARES LIFE-LONG PASSION FOR CHORAL MUSIC

NEIL Medland will be sharing his Westminister Abbey chorister experiences as a chorister and his lifelong passion for choral music at an event in Malmesbury on Friday March 17.

His love of choral music began as a boy when, aged eight, he became a pupil at the Westminster Abbey Choir School. During his five years at this preparatory school, he sang at two major royal events – the weddings of Princess Margaret (1960) and Princess Alexandra (1963). And other state occasions too.

‘It’s my feeling that part of Christian worship is the celebration of and enjoyment of music. I enjoyed being part of this when I was a boy. And it’s my belief that my experience of working with professionals from such a young age helped me in my life.

Former Chorister Shares Choral Music Passion - Neil Medland
Former Chorister Shares Choral Music Passion – Neil Medland

The content of the talk

My talk is not only about those five years. It’s about what happened beyond that and how my love of choral music has been an integral part of my life for more than sixty years.’

Today Neil is active with the Cathedral Music Trust and the Royal School of Church Music. And has completed a course in choral conducting sponsored by Malmesbury Abbey.

As a teenager, Neil left Westminster Abbey School aged thirteen. He later began a career as an operations engineer in the nuclear industry which led him to move around the country with his family. He spent many years living in Gloucestershire and has now made a permanent move to Wiltshire.

Alongside his engineering career, Neil’s love of choral music never left him. Thus he’s been a member of a choir in every community he’s had a home. He’s sung in many cathedrals across the country too and he advocates for the importance of choral music in many ways.

Now aged seventy-three, Neil lives in Charlton with his wife Margaret. He remains as active in the world of choral music as he’s ever been – if not more so. He’s the current chairman of the Purcell Club, comprised of former Westminster Abbey choristers and named after composer Henry Purcell. He was the Abbey organist between the years of 1679 to 1695.

The Purcell Club

This club undertakes historical and musical tours of the Abbey to raise money for charity. These tours are private and take place when the Abbey is closed to the public. Monies raised get donated to the Abbey itself and to other charities chosen by members.

The 500th musical tour took place earlier this month and on average the tour raises about £30,000 a year for good causes. Neil estimates the tours have raised almost £500k to date.

Neil is also well known within Malmesbury itself as he also sings with Malmesbury Singers and the Abbey choir. He also supports the musical director John Hughes by conducting the choir from time to time.

Susan Mockler, a member of the Athelstan Museum’s management team, said: ‘We’re so pleased Neil is bringing such an interesting story about his choral career to another Athelstan Museum evening talk.’

We endeavour to provide a variety of topics and this one is most apt for this year. We’re pleased to be able to share proceeds with Malmesbury Abbey at Neil’s request.  The tickets are going fast!’

Neil’s talk ‘Five Years In The Choir At Westminster Abbey & Beyond’ will also include a virtual musical tour of Westminster Abbey. The event takes place from 7pm on Friday March 17 and tickets cost £10.

To book visit https://www.athelstanmuseum.org.uk/event/five-years-in-the-choir-of-westminster-abbey-and-beyond/



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