A Dulwich church has celebrated 30 years of service from its director of music, writes Nora Selina Helal…

The Church of St Barnabas marked Dr William McVicker’s 30th anniversary with a presentation and prayers at the church’s Harvest Thanksgiving service in October.

The church also held a party for members of the congregation and the church’s 70-strong choir.

The Reverend John Watson, current Vicar of St Barnabas, said: “Over three decades William has welcomed hundreds of young children and teenagers into the choir, many of whom continued to sing at St Barnabas every week throughout their time at junior and senior schools.”

Dr Watson went on to mention that some of the members of the choir have gone on to choral or organ scholarships at cathedrals and Oxbridge colleges. Others are forging careers as music teachers or professional performers and one is an ordained priest.

“All have learnt what music is to worship through the experience and leadership of William,” he said.

“But for every former chorister who goes on to study music, there are many more whose futures lie in other directions, but whose understanding and appreciation of music has been enriched for ever by their experience of being part of St Barnabas Choir.

“And over these 30 years St Barnabas has been soaked in the words and prayers of the music that William has so wonderfully led.”

Gavin Moralee, now a professional baritone, singing with the Choir of the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, and often with the BBC Singers, said: “William was instrumental in me pursuing a career in music.

“I still hear the words of guidance he gave me before going on stage for concerts and Music College auditions.

“To think he was younger than I am now when he was helping me is incredible.

“He was inspiring, passionate, jocular and caring to the core.”

St Barnabas Choir doubled in size to 54 members during this time and over the next 20 years has expanded to more than 80 regular members.

Eleanor Knowles, who joined the choir aged 11 and is now a doctor in general practice, said: “Singing at St Barnabas under William’s imaginative and inclusive direction has given me a privileged choral education which has opened doors to singing everywhere I’ve lived since.”

“I’ve made friends for life through the choir and the highlight of my week remains singing.”

Highlights of Dr McVicker’s three decades as director of music at St Barnabas have included a large-scale community performance of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in 1999, supported by the National Lottery; a revival of Richard Dawre’s cantata The Lion of Judah in 2017; numerous CD recordings and radio broadcasts; and four international choir tours, to Italy and Germany, including performances in the Duomo, Florence, and St Thomas’s Church, Leipzig, where J S Bach was organist.