John Rutter

In conjuction with...

Rugby Philharmonic Choir



Come and Sing with John Rutter

Saturday 29th April 2017

Joyful celebration of Rugby Phil’s 150 Years
by Diana WallsJohn Rutter

‘Have a go!’ called John Rutter enthusiastically. Yes, the great man himself was in Rugby for a glorious day of singing to celebrate Rugby Philharmonic Choir’s one hundred and fifty years.  John Rutter, composer, conductor of choirs around the world, came to the Temple Speech Room on Saturday, 29th April, to take the baton from Phil director, Mervyn Bethell, to lead ‘Come and Sing’.  And come, we did – in our hundreds.  Mervyn accompanied on the piano as John Rutter directed sacred music by Handel, Bach and Rachmaninov, and a mix of compositions by Rutter himself including jazz for Shakespeare.  

The whole day was generous and inspiring.  On arrival, a buzz of people greeted each other, members of community choirs, talented leaders of choirs and one ardent fan of John Rutter who had dropped in from CanadaJohn Rutter with Mervyn Bethell.  ‘1867’, displayed on the stage, signalled the choir’s achievement.  Dr Jonathan Smith pointed out the double celebration, since Rugby School is celebrating its four hundred and fifty years.  So what was the Philharmonic Choir like in 1867? we wondered.  One thing is certain.  They did not enjoy themselves as much as we did.

To illustrate the joy of choral singing, the day was perfect.  John Rutter showed his skill as a communicator, telling stories and amusing anecdotes and jumping onto the stage for ‘the grand performance’.   Encouragement was balanced with the right amount of criticism with many helpful tips.  For a high note our jaws must drop, to make our mouths ‘tall’.  We must ‘refresh the note’ rather than just repeat it.  ‘Keep that note moving;  it is alive.’

Come and Sing Rugby Temple Speech RoomPoignant moments when John Rutter revealed how he came to write ‘Look to the Day’, for Cancer Research UK’s Service of Thanksgiving, and how Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ had opened up music to Rutter at the age of nine.  Music-making, said Rutter, unites people in a way that nothing else does. 

The Day testified to this and what a good sound we made.  Rugby Philharmonic Choir excelled themselves as hosts, providing welcome, a café, delicious food by Paddy Steele.

The Choir’s Anniversary Concert will take place on Saturday, 8th July in the Temple Speech Room, ‘1867 and All That’.   Everyone will want to be there.             

We are so glad so many ‘Came and Sang’ with us and enjoyed the day. Thank you for your positive comments and enthusiasm....

“Dear Mervyn and Rugby Philharmonic, thank you for a glorious day today. I knew it would be splendid but it far outweighed my expectations. All good wishes for the rest of your celebrations.”

“Didn't we have a super day. Congratulations to the hardworking team in making it the success it was. Having a hall full was tremendous.
No doubt John Rutter is a fabulous talent and entertainer. We learnt a great deal. Well done.”

“I just wanted to say what a wonderful day it has been  with John Rutter and you! What an amazing experience.  Thank you for all you did to make it so.”

“You and your team excelled yesterday and the whole time was filled with smiling singers and enthusiasm.  Did you bottle any of it? ”  

”I had a wonderful time and spending a day with John Rutter was unforgettable!  Thank you yet again.”

“What a wonderful day we had yesterday!
Our thanks to you and your 'team' of efficient helpers. The organisation of so many people went 'swimmingly'. A great feat!
And of course to be challenged, encouraged, and instructed by John Rutter was a great privilege. Thank you all.”

“I must congratulate you and everyone else concerned with the organisation and running of the day. What a wonderful day. So well organised from start to finish. Thoroughly enjoyed, I cannot believe anyone could not have enjoyed the experience and learned a tremendous amount from it.

“Thank you for a brilliant day. It was a fantastic from beginning to end and extremely well organised.  I liked Rutter’s style and sense of humour and, I have to say, the accompanist was excellent!
A memorable day.” 

“What a wonderful day it was.  Tremendously well done!  Thank you to the great team that you led to bring it all together.”

John Rutter

Rugby Philharmonic Choir.  Contact Mervyn Bethell at

[Come and Sing]

© Rugby Philharmonic Choir 1867 - 2019 
Updated January 2019