Stephen, Nigel and Alan Broadbent 

Stephen, Nigel and Alan Broadbent 

My brother Stephen once commented that almost all of his coaching colleagues with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain had a choir background.

Our father was a keen amateur musician.  Singer, pianist, loved music. Sang all the time, while driving or gardening. He would often drop off to sleep last thing at night with a score open on his lap.

He was also choirmaster and organist at the local church in Newent, St Mary's. So from the age of five there was nothing unusual in joining my brothers in the choir.  Black cassocks, white surpluses and ruffs. Angelic or what?

The photo was for our family christmas card in 1958.  Taken by our eldest brother Julian on the day he left for Manchester University.  

For followers of Stringfever, Stephen is Graham's dad, Alan is Giles', Ralph's and Neal's dad. And in the middle is Uncle Nigel.

St Mary's Church, Newent

St Mary's Church, Newent

I enjoyed the singing but for me the endurance tests were the sermons. They seemed endless.  I didn't understand a thing . The magic words I couldn't wait to hear were when the vicar would turn round to face the altar and say "In the name of the Father ... ".

In the meantime, as it was pre smartphone, the main attraction was just staring at the stained glass windows.

The Three Choirs Festival is a flourishing music festival taking place in the cathedrals of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester.  I visited all three again last week.  Magnificent structures.  Full of beautiful, colourful, stained glass windows, similar to those in Newent Church.

Gloucester Cathedral was always freezing when we played there as kids.  Concert uniform was usually white shirts ... not very warm.  So our ever resourceful and ever knitting mum knitted us Broadbent boys white wooly jumpers to wear under our shirts along with our knitted string vests. Cool eh!


For many years the LSO played annually at the Three Choirs Festival.  From back in the days when Edward Elgar was principal conductor until the mid sixties.
Then one year during a rehearsal in Hereford Cathedral the general manager Ernest Fleischmann stood up in front of the orchestra.  He had just received a letter from an entrepreneur in Florida.  Instead of coming to the Three Choirs next year how would the orchestra feel about 6 weeks (with families) in Daytona Beach instead?

There was a vote.

St Paul's Cathedral is also an amazing building.  Even bigger than the ones in the west country.  Impressive structure.  Beautiful mosaics.  But where are all the lovely stained glass windows? Nearly all of the windows are now plain glass.  I guess courtesy of Mr Hitler.

Last night's concert in St Paul's started at 7pm.  The choirboys were angelic. The concert included the Lord Mayor of London Andrew Parmley as organ soloist in Saint-Saens Symphony No 3.

If you visit the cathedral today you might still hear some of it.