The History of Concerts in Trunch Church

Written by John Mason

The concerts in Trunch Church were started in 1997 by Cellist and Conductor Roy Abrams (pictured conducting his orchestra). He retired to Trunch having been a professional musician and teacher. Seldom will a retired musician give up playing for good and he therefore sought the opportunity to work with the local community to promote concerts in an historic Norfolk Church. To enable this to happen, he even put his own grand piano in St Botolph’s.

From small beginnings with musical friends and playing three concerts a year, the project changed from friends playing music into a project to raise money for the Conservation and Restoration of the church fabric, which became a crisis when the Quinquennial Inspection of 2001 revealed two very large and growing cracks in the church tower.

The following work was completed:

  •  In 2005 the tower was secured from splitting.
  • In 2010 the chancel roof was repaired.
  • The historic 1808 Wm Gray organ was restored in 2012.
  • In 2014 cloakroom and kitchen facilities were installed. 

When the original Restoration Committee disbanded in 2008, concerts were continued under the organisation of Roy Abrams and John Mason in collaboration with the church. In 2018, when John ceased his involvement in the concerts, a new committee was organised under the auspices of the PCC of St Botolph’s Church.

John Mason is a nationally respected music educationalist, who has led the musical life in high-achieving schools in England, Vienna and Munich (where he was employed and seconded by the Department of Education), as well as lecturing and tutoring trainee teachers across the country for the Universities of Reading and Buckingham. He was a founding member of the European Association for Music in Schools (EAS). On moving to Trunch in 2001, he quickly established himself as a highly regarded local musician. Under his leadership, the most adventurous local musicians readily performed in this modest-sized church with its superb acoustic, including several projects with the Norfolk Composers Group. In most years since 2009, at least one fully professional concert has also been presented.

Past professional performers include The London Schubert Players (twice – courtesy of the European Union Cultural Fund), The London Mozart Players & Chloe Hanslip (NNDC/Orchestras Live), The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (twice) with Alison Bury and Anthony Pay (NNDC/Orchestras Live), The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College (Cambridge) with Sarah MacDonald.  Other top professionals have also generously given recitals for little more than expenses. These include Anda Anastasescu (Debussy Prize Winner, Paris), Darragh Morgan (Professor of Violin, Guildhall School), Bruce Vogt (Professor of Piano, University of Victoria, Vancouver), Andrew Roberts (violin, OAE), Suzanna Hurrell (soprano, now Royal Opera Covent Garden), David Dunnett (organ, Norwich Cathedral), Jane Gillie (violin, OAE) and Stephen Rowlinson (violin, LSO).

The new Trunch Concerts committee continue to rise the high standards established over first 20 years, exploiting the wonderful acoustic of the church and maintaining a balance between different styles to meet the varying musical tastes of the public.

The latest quinquennial inspection of the church has revealed that the roof of this beautiful Grade 1 listed church needs £200,000 of restoration work. All concert proceeds will continue to be donated to St Botolph’s Church restoration projects. Since 1998 the concerts have raised in excess of £27,000 towards restoration projects.

The Church and community would like to thank the audiences, performers and those who offer other services of support for their generosity.