June 7th 1942 - 23rd February 2011
Mattefer Music was conceived in a St Albans pub, when Michael and Neil Mackenzie were enjoying a beer after a singing lesson, which they agreed was an essential part of the learning experience. Neil was looking for somewhere to run a residential course for choral singers and Michael had long desired to invite a group of friends to his home in France, where he and his wife Jill had a studio which was perfect for music-making. The outcome was a week of happy and accomplished singing in each of the years 2006 to 2010.
Michael was an entrepreneurial engineer, with his own business, and it was this energy and intelligence he applied when he took up singing in his fifties with an enthusiastic commitment to Hertfordshire Chorus. This led to the creative moment in the pub, which Michael rapidly followed up by persuading Ed Coombes, his oldest friend and co-owner of Mattefer, to reserve all their rental accommodation, normally self-catering, for one week, and then making arrangements for the communal meals which became an intrinsic part of Mattefer life.
Michael worked hard to make Mattefer Music an outstanding experience. Whatever tasks needed to be done he was always there, making sure that everything was in place for a successful week. He particularly enjoyed preparing lunch and organising barbecue parties for course members, as he said he'd always had an ambition to run a bistro! In 2010 his commitment was unwavering, although it was clear that his energy was diminishing, but he never complained and always put the welfare of others before his own.
At his funeral so many people came to pay their respects that it was standing room only. Mattefer singers joined with a large contingent from Hertfordshire Chorus, singing music chosen by Michael himself - Parry's Jerusalem and two Bruckner motets - conducted by a Mattefer Music alto. And for some of us, our thoughts went back to the first Mattefer Music week when, after the rehearsal in the tiny church in the village of Le Somail, we had to sing Locus Iste to the owner of the cafe next door, before she would bring our drinks.
Thank you Michael for all the happy memories you have left with us.
May the road rise up to meet you.