It was very affecting and I loved it.
Etcetera was founded in September 2009 as a staff choir covering three Government Departments in Westminster: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); Transport (DfT); and Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It is from these Departments, and a purposeful loss of a space, that it derives its name:
Environment/Transport/Communities to ETC to Etcetera.
From these beginnings our membership now spans a number of Government Departments, agencies and institutions in Westminster (in particular the Home Office) and we have a growing reputation as the Civil Service Choir. We also have members who are former Civil Servants. Clare Moriarty CB, Permanent Secretary of Defra, became our first patron in 2017.
We perform a wide range of accompanied and unaccompanied repertoire in ambitious programmes for our thrice yearly principal concerts and for other events (see performances).
The choir is conducted and managed by founder music director/chairman Stephen Hall, who works in Defra. After several years of being on the other side of the baton in choirs, Etcetera was his first regular experience of directing one. He has since benefitted from formal choral conducting training through the Association of British Choral Directors and the English Choral Experience. In 2013, Stephen received Defra’s Engholm Trophy for founding and developing Etcetera.
We are also regularly joined by members of the Whitehall Orchestra and other musicians to form our own bespoke ensemble or orchestra when needed. Our larger-scale performances regularly feature professional soloists.
Our concert home is St Stephen’s Church, Rochester Row, Westminster.
However, we have had the great honour of so far giving five concerts at the prestigious concert venue of St John’s Smith Square to perform major choral works with orchestra and professional soloists. These concerts have proved extremely popular and we manage to fill the venue, which seats over 700.
Our fifth concert at St John’s Smith Square was on 11 April, performing the Mozart Mass in C Minor. We have also performed twice at the Guards’ Chapel, Wellington Barracks.
Where practicable our concerts have free admission. Instead of charging entry we have collections at the end of our performances – an important aspect of our ethos.
Our principal charity is the Cardinal Hume Centre, based on Horseferry Road. The Centre does incredible work to alleviate poverty and homelessness, and transforms people’s lives right on our doorstep.
We are also delighted to be now supporting The Lifeboat Fund – helping the RNLI to save lives at sea – which is the oldest Civil Service charity, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016.
We have also organised two World War I Acts of Remembrance at the Guards’ Chapel and raised over £2,000 for armed forces charities.
We are funded by direct membership subscriptions and by SPARTA to which members in Department for Transport and Department for Communities and Local Government subscribe.
The choir is managed by an elected committee drawn from its membership and other choir members take on tasks to help with its administration.