What a Wonderful Weekend!

The 90th Anniversary of the first G&S Society Convention was a lovely event to be part of. Friends in the British Music Hall Society would have named it the ‘Green Beans and Carrots’ Convention, as luckily, my personal vegetable love meant I was happy eating these on the three days. The food was fine, and the Alma Lodge Hotel close to Stockport once again provided a spacious environment for socialising, listening to talks and concerts.

The first concert featured Matthew Siveter, a young singer with an enormous ability to take Gilbert & Sullivan to new generations of fans. He sang a variety of songs, many from G&S, which showcased his gift for comedy, and also his fine baritone voice. Many amusing anecdotes, including a demonstration of his skill in Irish dancing, made for a hugely enjoyable concert by a singer with a bright future and a wonderful personality. He was accompanied by Martin Yates who had predicted Matthew’s skill in G&S from an early age. The following day, Matthew was interviewed by Chairman, David Walton about his life and career. Matthew’s fan base will have increased this weekend.

Saturday morning saw Martin Yates look at influences in the composition of ‘The Mikado’, with explanation of the pentatonic scale and other musical devices: and also how Sullivan’s use of influences went on to influence Puccini’s ‘Madam Butterfly’ and ‘Turandot’. Hearing the music explained in this way made it sound even fresher and and more vibrant than usual.

Deborah Lea, who is Eleanor Evans’ great-niece, presented an illustrated history of Darrell Fancourt, Eleanor’s husband, looking at his life and his career in D’Oyly Carte where he remained for over three decades and over 10,000 performances. Deborah illustrated her talk with several recordings of Darrell’s singing which demonstrated his exemplary diction and ability to infuse his singing with character. Deborah also described Eleanor’s career with the company, initially as a singer, and latterly as Stage Director. There was also a display of many interesting items connected to Darrell. This talk was a direct result of Deborah’s friend, the singer and teacher Sandra Dugdale, recommending that Deborah approach the Society, and we were very pleased to present the talk as part of this weekend. The Society’s ‘Fancourt Trophy’, which in the 1950s Manchester society members could compete for by singing numbers from the operas, was presented to Deborah after her talk: a fitting gesture.

In the afternoon, Paul Taylor presented a condensed version of his talk about the events leading up to the first night of ‘Iolanthe’, both in the theatre and in the wider world. As usual, Paul used many unfamiliar illustrations in his talk, meticulously researched as usual. I was pleased to play the Lancers arrangement of ‘Iolanthe’ by Charles d’Albert as part of this talk.

A Celebrity Concert with Leon Berger, Joanna Gamble, Rachel Harland, Russell Painter and pianist, Tim Smith was very enjoyable, blending familiar and unfamiliar Sullivan and G&S items. Dialogue was included between some items, which showed the artistes’ ease with this material. Apparently more than one singer was having throat problems, but this didn’t detract from what was a successful concert.

On the final morning, John Balls and Arthur Barrett from the Norwich society, presented a fascinating hour, blending excerpts from recordings of both the Boer War Te Deum and the Festival Te Deum, several hymns with Sullivan’s music accompanied by David Mackie with his customary skill, and a couple of hilarious letters written by Gilbert to a cousin about his adventures as a new driver in 1902. It seems fitting, knowing the character of Gilbert, that he denied causing any of the three accidents he had been involved in within months of each other, luckily not causing too much damage or injury.

A final concert by Scottish soprano, Juliet Montgomery and baritone Nathan Bellis, accompanied by David Mackie was excellent. Half was G&S sung by their beautiful young voices, and half was music theatre, just as enjoyable. Here again, it was reassuring to know that G&S is in the safe hands of the next generation of singers. Maybe they are denied the training ground which D’Oyly Carte provided to many singers before them, but it was a lovely hour of music, skilfully and characterfully sung and accompanied.

After lunch, our 48 hours, certainly a pudding crammed full of plums, came to an end and it was time to leave. Thank you to those within Manchester G&S Society: Jean Dufty, Paul Taylor, Ray Walker and David Walton, who worked so hard to ensure the Twenty-Second Convention was successful.

David Wheeler

Matthew Siveter at the 22nd Gilbert and Sullivan Convention

with Martin Yates on the piano.

What a performance ! In the best of all possible ways.

This was the first time I had come across this great entertainer Matthew Siveter. Magnificently accompanied by Martin Yates. Martin kept us entertained and with song and laughter throughout the evening. He demonstrated his great character portrayals with a myriad of accents. The characterisations came through with his international renditions; cornish, london, French, spanish and even irish dancing (with the brogue). With audience participation and a few glimpses into his early career including anecdotes, jokes and stories even about being ”discovered” by Martin Yates when he played Thernardier in a young people’s production of Les Miserables. Martin introduced Matthew to Gilbert and Sullivan and here we are.

A great example of an all round entertainer.

I have been told that Matthew has starting writing – yet another bow to his comprehensive talents.

I am looking forward to his interview later this afternoon.

Twenty Second Gilbert and Sullivan Convention

Welcome to the 22nd G&S Convention at Alma Lodge Stockport 13th May to 15th May 2022

The convention opens with a four course Celebration Dinner
This will mark Manchester Society’s 90th Anniversary as well as being the opening of the Convention. Gather from 7pm for a 7:30pm start.

Followed by a concert with Matthew Siveter and Martin Yates.

Manchester Gilbert & Sullivan Society, meeting Sunday 6th March 2022

Dear Member/Supporter

A reminder that our next meeting will be a LIVE one this coming Sunday, 6th March at 2.30 pm at the usual venue, Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street, Manchester M2 1NL.  Paul Taylor will give a presentation on Gondoliers, taking us back to 1889 when it was first produced and showing us in words and images what happened at the time with musical excerpts on CD and live piano music and readings of other relevant material.  These presentations by Paul are well researched and always much enjoyed. 

REMEMBER also our Convention weekend May 13th to 15th at the Alma Lodge Hotel on the A6 in Stockport and not far from Stockport Station.  Enjoy G&S and chatting to other enthusiasts from Friday evening to Sunday lunch.  A good number of people from our Society and Norwich, London and Sussex Societies have booked but there are still plenty of places available.  Book as soon as possible and by April 1st.  If for some reason eg health problem you cannot commit yet but hope to come it would be most helpful if you let me know.  Programme and Booking form here with prices for full board for the weekend, either staying at the hotel each night or going home to your own bed.

Please note that on Sunday Manchester City Football Club will be playing Manchester United at City’s Ground, The Etihad Stadium, Ashton New Road, Manchester M11 3FF starting at 4.30 pm and due to finish at 6.15 pm.  Our meeting will finish at about 4.30 to 4.45 pm.  You may need to allow extra time to travel into Manchester as football fans do travel in long before the match starts, but we should get away from the area well before they finish at 6.15 pm.  So I hope that will not deter you from attending Paul’s afternoon.

Paul will be setting up the equipment for his presentation from about 1.00 pm, the earliest time there will be anyone at the Chapel to let him in.  If you arrive early please would you assemble and chat in the circular corridor until he has finished setting up, so he has peace and quiet to concentrate on that.  Pret a Mange café about 20 ft from the Chapel’s front door can be recommended for a hot drink or fruit juice and light refreshments.

Crosby G&S Society’s Yeomen with Peter Crichton as Fairfax and Sally Shaw in a principal role will be performed at Southport Little Theatre (near the station) from Wednesday March 16 to Friday 18th at 7.30 pm and on Saturday 19th at 2.30 pm.  Poster with booking details here.

Best wishes Jean Dufty


The Gilbert & Sullivan Society
for the

Friday evening May 13th to Sunday lunch May 15th
Alma Lodge Hotel, Stockport, near Manchester

Convention Application Form download

Friday 13 May
7.00 for 7.30 pm       Celebration Dinner (4 course).
                                        Dress; dinner jacket or lounge suit.
This will mark Manchester Society’s 90th Anniversary as well as being the opening of the Convention.
Matthew Siveter (baritone) will delight us afterwards with a short
concert accompanied at the piano by Martin Yates.
The cash bar in the Regis Suite will be open until midnight.

Saturday 14 May
9.30 – 10.00 am Assemble.
10.00 am Welcome.
10.15 am ‘The Mikado : the Victorian Masterpiece of British opera’
Martin Yates, chairman of the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society, places
Sullivan in his proper place in the musical line from Purcell to
11.15 am Coffee.
11.45 am ‘A Great Savoyard’: presentation on the life and work of Darrell
Fancourt by his great niece Deborah Lea.
12.45 pm Light Buffet Lunch. Cash bar open beforehand.

2.30 pm Matthew Siveter will be interviewed about his musical and
professional journey.
Questions welcomed at the end.
3.15 to 3.45 pm Interval tea or coffee.
3.45 to 4.45 approx. Paul Taylor of Manchester Society will give a talk on the
events leading up to the first production of Iolanthe.
4.45 to 6.30 pm Free time.
6.30 pm Evening meal.
8.00 pm Celebrity Concert by Leon Berger, Sylvia Clark, Eleanor Jane
Moran and Russell Painter accompanied by Tim Smith.
10.00 pm Tea, coffee and biscuits and a cash bar will be open until

Sunday 15 May
10.00 am An Act of Worship featuring Sullivan’s two Te Deums led by
Arthur Barrett and John Balls of Norwich G&S Society.
10.50 am approx. Coffee.
11.30 am ‘In Duet’: Juliet Montgomery and Aidan Edwards will entertain
in song accompanied by David Mackie.
Formal close of convention.
1.00 pm Sunday Lunch (3 course). Disperse (“most reluctantly”).

Printable form of programme can be downloaded here.