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Philharmonic Choir Dinner, 27th March 2023

Our annual dinner was a happy occasion, tinged with some sadness while looking forward to a new future as a choir. We’d just completed our sixth year of events with Andy McTaggart at the helm.

This evening was our opportunity to share memories, thanks, and end of 2023 season farewells; the Gourock Golf club was the venue. It was a beautifully clear evening with panoramic Clyde views and, as we ate our dinner, we were able to watch the sun go down.

Chef Tony Reid and his team served us a menu to fit our different tastes and showing patience as some of us forgot what we had ordered! However, all was well, and the meal was delicious.

Lynne Macmillan presented Andy with a gift of whisky, which we knew he was partial to, and glasses, and thanked Andy for all the hard work, energy and enthusiasm he had invested in the choir. Lynne McBain had made a splendid cake, with Andy’s picture on top, which we could enjoy with our coffee and the last of our desserts.


As is traditional, Anne Armour had composed a ballad which we all sang with our usual enthusiasm, and the text is below.

Calum Harbison, our committee chairman then gave us an entertaining presentation together with a creatively designed PowerPoint by Ruaraidh McBain.

Calum described some highlights of Andy’s six years with the choir, from his rather unusual recruitment to the “final curtain”, the heading from an article in the local paper which caused considerable amusement and various ironic references! We were shown pictures of the different concerts, ‘Come & Sing’ and fundraising events reminding us of how much had been achieved during the time under Andy’s direction.

It was great to reflect on some memorable occasions and, despite the Covid lockdown, without actual disruption as online sessions were available to the choir. A particularly special occasion, and picture, was the first return to an ‘in person’ choir rehearsal in the Beacon carpark on another glorious sunsetting summer evening.


Article from the Greenock Telegraph:


Calum Harbison, the choir’s chairperson, said: “Greenock Philharmonic Choir members are sorry to see Andy go, but he leaves us in a good place and with great memories.

“Andy helped to breathe new life into the choir over the last six years.

“We were inspired by his knowledge of music and vocal technique, by his huge enthusiasm for the music which we all love, and by his communication skills and witty turn of phrase.

“All of these qualities made our rehearsals and performances really enjoyable. Andy also saw us through the difficult lockdown times and helped us to keep things going online.”

Andy made the 'hard decision' to step down from his role with the choir after accepting a new job as he did not want to continue if he could not put 100 per cent effort in.

He will now return to RCS to take up the position of lecturer of vocal performance.

The choir is now looking to the future 'with optimism' under conductor Nick Wilks.

Andy said: “The choir is wonderful. They have been so kind and generous with their time. Thank you for the six years.”


At this point Andy took the stage and gave us the most beautiful rendition of Burns’ “My love is like a red, red, rose” together with Hebba Benyaghla our accompanist at the piano.

After this, a truly enjoyable evening closed as we said our ‘until next times’, rather than ‘goodbyes’, for the season.



The Song of the Choir

When Andy arrived he was fresh-faced and young

A slip of a lad with oodles of fun.

He helped us develop our musical sound

A better conductor we could not have found.

He soon had suggestions and lots of ideas

His Come and Sing days added members with ease

And Fundraising Concerts by Andy and Friends

Were wonderful evenings while gaining some pence!


Oh the Greenock Phil that wonderful choir!

The name of it thrills us and fills us with pride

And we’re satisfied whate’er may betide

The sweetest of songs is the song of the choir.


Now Andy’s a character all will agree.

We flocked to the Beacon an Opera to see

Andy as Falstaff was just up his street

A better performer you seldom will meet.

And after six years we all know him so well

We love all his banter – he puts us through hell

To get a performance with standard so high

We’re really so sorry we’re saying goodbye.


And over those years what a lot to recall!

John Rutter and Faure, The Armed Man and all

We love the Feel the Spirit and Mystical Songs,

Creation by Haydn and Mozart was fun.

We finally peaked on a high mountain-top

With Andy’s Elijah his favourite of all.

And so farewell Andy from all of the choir

Good luck for the future and thanks from us all

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