Come-back call for conductor tribute

David Cutter (far right) with Wigan Parish Church choir members at the top of the church tower in the early 1990s
David Cutter (far right) with Wigan Parish Church choir members at the top of the church tower in the early 1990s

EX-MEMBERS of Wigan Choral Society now have an emotional extra incentive to take part in its 80th anniversary concert.

For the choir was this week mourning its former conductor David Cutter who has died at the age of 83.

And it has been decided that the long-planned re-enactment of the society’s first ever performance - of Mendelssohn’s great oratorio Elijah - will make a fitting tribute to the late musical director.

Elijah is a big work and organisers had already been hoping to encourage extra singers to attend Monday evening rehearsals and take part in the November 9 concert so as to make it an extra-special occasion.

Those recruits would include those who have sung in other choirs and those who used to be in Wigan Choral but might be persuaded to make a come-back for the celebrations.

Now those in that latter category could also see it as a way of paying their respects to a much-missed musical figure.

Society chairman Chris McAllister said: “Our 80th anniversary celebrations are now tinged with sadness following David Cutter’s passing away last week and we think it highly appropriate now to dedicate the performance of Elijah to him.

“Longer-serving and former members of the society will have fond memories of singing this great work under David’s baton and so it would be even nicer now if those ex-members - along with other experienced choral singers who have not been in the choir before - take part in the November concert.

“There are quite a number of rehearsals to go, starting this Monday, so experience of having sung the work itself is not a necessity.”

The concert takes place at St Michael’s Church, Swinley, at 7.30pm on Saturday November 9. Rehearsals also take place at the same venue at 7.30pm on Mondays.

Mr Cutter left an indelible mark not only on the Choral Society, which he ran from 1979 to 1994, but also a number of other local institutions.

He was the longest-serving organist and choirmaster of Wigan Parish Church, clocking up 33 years in the role; he taught at The Deanery High School; he served as chairman of Wigan Music Society for many years and was also a key member of the Wigan Music Festival’s organising committee.

Mr Cutter was the son of the vicar of Kirkhamilton near York,

He attended Rossall School in Fleetwood, studied the organ with York Minister’s Francis Jackson and was a music scholar at Keble College, Oxford.

On graduating he became the assistant organist at Newcastle Cathedral and later its Chichester counterpart before he was appointed organist and choirmaster of All Saints, Wigan.

And there he stayed for a third of a century.

On stepping down from his various positions, he retired to Wells in Somerset with wife Philippa who herself was a choral society member.

And it is at that city’s cathedral that his funeral takes place this Friday beginning at 2pm.

Mr Cutter had suffered a serious stroke earlier this month which paralyzed him down his left side although it left him able to speak.

He died in hospital early last Wednesday. He is survived by Philippa, their daughter Jane and a grandchild, along with Mr Cutter’s brother John who is a chaplain at Winchester Cathedral. The Cutters’ son Julian died from muscular dystrophy when he was a young man.

The Rector of Wigan, Rev Ray Hutchinson, said: “Everyone who was involved in music will fondly remember him. David Cutter was a gifted organist and conductor with a phenomenal memory for people and a very kind nature.”