[from Ellan Vannin vol 1 #3 p129/130]
- In the Sixties and Seventies.
THIS is such a vast subject that I hardly know how to condense it into a Magazine article.
About that time music was in a poor way in the Island. It was not taught generally in the elementary schools, as it is at present. Church music was especially poor in Douglasthe only church which had anything like good music was St. Thomas, where Mr. Louis Garrett was, the capable organiser, and a small, but efficient choir, containing some fine voices, rendered anthems in good style. The late Mrs. Andrew Spittall, who had a beautiful voice, was a leading member. At St. Georges Church there was a wretched little organ, hidden away in a little gallery near the roof. St. Barnabas Church had a small two-manual organ, in a gallery over the Communion Table, where also the choir sat. The evening service generally started with Cecils " I will arise," an inane production. Chanting the Psalms was quite rare; whereas to-day it is to be heard in every Manx Church.
In August, 1877, a church festival was held in St. Germans Cathedral, in the ruins of the Choir, in which the greater number of the Manx church choirs took part. The service was Evensong and the anthem was "O taste and see" (Goss). The late Canon Moore of Kirk Braddan was the conductor, and an admirable sermon was preached by the late Bishop Selwyn, of Lichfield.
A small choral society was started by Mr. Louis Garrett. It met in a large room belonging to the late Mr. Alfred Adams, in Athol Street; and there we sang old English glees and part songs.
Mr. Thomas Cheslyn Callow, father of Mr. Horace Callow, was a musical enthusiast, and he got together a small band, chiefly violins.
We had weekly Penny Readings in those days, in the old Victoria Hall, in Prospect Hill, now defunct. It was .a bad place for sound, but large audiences attended, for the programmes were well selected and not too long. I cannot remember much about the other towns, but after the Music Competitions were started choral societies were formed in all the four towns, and their practices were well attended. Three prominent men in the musical world were Mr Alfred Adams, a fine flute player; Mr. Lockhart, .a good violinist, but who was no good at time; and Lieut. Wood, who played Corellis Sonatas for the Double Bass in grand style.
Also Mr. Looney, who got up a choir and won prizes across the waterI forget where.
The late Mrs. Heron was a warm encourager of music, and we had some good times in Castle Mona.
There was also some singing classes in Douglas, which were well attended, being held in the days when pictures and dances did not hold sway, as they do at present.
As this article is to deal with past times, perhaps it will be well to conclude here; but now, our principal wants are a real concert halil and a fine municipal orchestra.