Petition to Fund Cantus Lambed Choir and for Paul Watkins Contribution to UWTSD Lampeter .
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1. This petition aims to have Paul Watkins M.Phil. (Lamp) employed as a member of the University staff, and to have his position as Musical Director for Cantus Lambed recognised and funded.
2. We specifically request that the choir and Paul, are funded at a minimum of £3000 per year, in order to allow the choir to print music, purchase new robes, cover travel costs, pay for advertising and pay for proper recording equipment in order to disseminate its work, and to publicise the work of the university in this field.
3. We also request that the choir is given an office in which its catalogue of music and materials can be stored safely, so that the choir can be run / managed from here.
4. We also ask that the situation between with the Chaplain and the Choir and Paul is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
Paul was instated as musical director in Lampeter campus in September 2016 and has since been running Cantus Lambed. The choir has run successfully, performing in the University Chapel, Carmarthen and Chepstow, and is looking to perform in other places such as Tewkesbury and St. Clears. It provides an outlet for students, as well as academic and support staff, to sing, learn about medieval history and music and to get involved in promoting the choir, the subject and the university on campus and elsewhere. It has attracted a wide variety of members and disciplines as testament to its appeal and to Paul's open mind to teaching and learning. For students interested in medieval history Paul is more than willing to offer support by directing them towards materials that can help them with their studies. He has worked continuously to create the Monastic and Early monastic choir project, which has helped to promote Prof. Janet Burton and Dr Karen Stöber's work on The Monastic Wales Project.
• The choir is currently experiencing problems in terms of its funding due to a change in chaplaincy incurring the loss of £1000 a year stipend, which had not even covered the expenses of the choir. The shortfall has come from Paul himself and choir members for transport and subsistence at events.
• The university’s medieval day in which the choir participates, now in its second year, only came to fruition due to Paul’s sheer determination, enthusiasm, academic discipline, application and desire to showcase Lampeter as the outstanding campus and community that it is. He has worked tirelessly alongside his other commitments with Canticum Novum, his work as a music teacher both in Lampeter and Carmarthen, and as the instructor for the Organist Scholarship. Living in Carmarthen he travels long distances regularly for practice, events and preparation in order to meet these commitments and to spend enough time on campus in order to keep the choir working and manage the communication and advertising of the choir and its services and events.
• More recently, issues with the new chaplaincy with funding, support and use of the Chapel as rehearsal space, which will negatively affect Paul’s income, both from his work with the choir but also from his music teaching. The new chaplain is reluctant to allow the choir to use the Chapel and perform acts of faithful service and worship (in medieval latin). This has created further stress, travel and a drain on resources for the individuals in the choir. There has been a choir in the Chapel for most of the University’s history. Considering Lampeter Campus’ rich heritage current practice in the Chapel seems to demonstrate a lack of regard and respect for the University’s history and its strong Historical and Archaeological departments, both in research and the student body.
• The Chapel, the Choir and the wider connection to the University’s academic and research life provide a platform for staff and students in other ways: for example, for those who experience stress, fatigue or mental health issues belonging to a wider community is important: an hour of rehearsal or performance gives them a break in their day in which to concentrate on something other than coursework or their job whilst continuing to learn. Singing for those with anxiety, asthma or any other hidden issue acts as a breathing exercise and helps them to manage. Thus, the choir helps to promote student wellbeing by bringing students and staff together for an hour or more a week to sing where they get involved in the university community, meeting students of all years and disciplines that they would not have met elsewhere. Cross curricular involvement for those not of a medieval discipline allows access to medieval history in an immersive way they could not otherwise find in their courses. Paul’s inclusive and Lampeter focused approach allows students to feel included, involved, valued and enables them to feel part of the university’s living heritage and community.
• Overall we feel that Paul’s valuable, much needed and long running commitment to the University has been overlooked. Few members of the community work so hard for the University, students and general community and with such a focus on Lampeter and getting students and the surrounding community involved in its history, its importance, its academia and its potential and value to UWTSD as a whole. Student Comments on Paul and the Choir:
Thank you Charlie for standing up for Pauls cause so wholeheartedly it is really much appreciated. I would like to add that through Pauls enthusiasm and the choir I have learned so much more about the university, Wales and the medieval period, he encouraged me to attend the medieval conference although I am studying ancient history and without him I would not have known about the event. Our choir performance trips as well have gotten me more interested in the medieval period. So he is indeed inspiring people outside the medieval sector to take part in this world, he is very inclusive, respecting everyone no matter their belief, heritage or subject of study and really tries his best to give us an understanding of the heritage of Lampeter, and Wales overall, making us all feel important and part of the choir project. He truly is the soul of the choir…He and the choir made it so much easier for me as an international student to find my place, as we are all equally treated with respect and enjoy singing together.
I’d also like to add, that as Organ Scholar, Paul has been an amazing teacher to me this past year. And without him I wouldn’t have a teacher. However over this past year, I believe he is yet to be paid for the lessons that he has given me, which are encompasses within the scholarship from the chaplaincy. Without Paul’s enthusiasm and love for music and the organ I don’t feel as though I would have had as many opportunities to play the organ as I have had, as he organises the music for the services / ‘concerts’ that we as a choir put on
Paul is the reason that I have been able to keep my passion for music alive whilst being at a university that doesn’t offer this type music as a course or in any SU society that has been made aware to me.
I think that this is definitely a worthy cause… I think it might also be worth highlighting that, currently, the choir is the only institution that actually gets students into the chapel and perhaps articulating some surprise/dismay that the chaplaincy should express anything other than support over it would be a good idea? The whole thing is a great shame but I do think this is an excellent opportunity to really solidify the place of choral music at Lampeter and that is very exciting. I will happily do anything I can to support this.
Father Allan Barton:
This is astonishing to hear, for me as the former Chaplain I was absolutely delighted to have Paul on board. We had a great working relationship and I felt that things really could get going. I was encouraged by what he built up in such a small time and his passion and energy. To have students using the chapel was really wonderful. UWTSD was a hard place to work, because of the lack of resources. I tried really hard to get proper money for Paul, but it was a dead end at every turn. What I decided to do was to use a pot of money the chapel had as the beginning of a choral endowment. It wasn't much £8000, but a start. Sadly I left before that could be realised…
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