A brief history...
The Catch Club existed between 1779 and 1865, but it was undoubtedly the first half of the nineteenth century which witnessed its glory days. Reading the Minutes, this seems remarkable: given the endless problems with the air pump, the Ladies’ Room, and the various musical celebrities from foreign countries (Italy, America) engaged from time to time by the Club, it is something of a wonder that a series of thirty concerts of vocal and orchestral music was held every Wednesday evening from October to May throughout this period.
Whatever visiting celebrities may have contributed, most of the evening’s music would have been provided by the members themselves; all would have been capable of holding a part in the ‘catches’ which lie at the heart of the Club’s repertoire. The more sophisticated glees would have been sung by the more musically proficient members of the Club, and these would have included the musicians in the service of the Cathedral at the time.
Club subscriptions (20 shillings for a season in 1840, with fines for non-attendance!) paid for instrumental music, too. The Club patronised an orchestra, with conductor, though this seems to have occasioned a degree of discord which belied the motto painted on the scroll above their stalls: the exhortation to ‘Harmony and Unanimity’ seems seldom to have been heeded, as the number of rules governing the conduct of the orchestral musicians proliferated throughout this time and the matter of the conductor’s salary is a running debate in the Committee’s Minutes. In spite of these vicissitudes, however, it is clear that the Canterbury Catch Club was a lively fixture on Canterbury’s cultural scene for almost a century.