News FromThe Choir

Latest News

“Canned music has not killed choral tradition”

“Canned music has not killed choral tradition”

Thursday 15th October 2020

A member of the choir has recently unearthed an article about us from the July 1956 edition of the Warwickshire and Worcestershire Magazine. The article has the headline “Leamington Bach Choir proves that canned music has not killed choral tradition”.

The piece was occasioned by the departure of the choir’s second full-time conductor, Harold Dexter, to take up the post of of organist at Southwark Cathedral, and the arrival of Peter Hurford. Like his predecessors, Peter held the triple responsibilities of organist at Holy Trinity Church, conductor of the Leamington Bach Choir (as we were known then), and conductor of the Warwickshire Orchestral Society (which later became the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra).

The author of the article reflects both on the history of the choir, in particular its wartime beginnings under the direction of Dr Stanley Vann, and on its past successes. These included a performance of Handel’s Messiah in the parish church of All Saints in 1946, which attracted an audience of a thousand, and our first performance of Bach’s B minor Mass in 1951, which filled Holy Trinity Church to capacity. The soloists in the latter included Isobel Baillie (soprano) and Anne Wood (mezzo). How we would love to be able to attract audiences of this size now!

As well as the major choral masterpieces by Bach, Handel and Mozart, the article also comments on our performances of many works by “modern composers”, including Vaughan Williams (who was still our President at the time), Arthur Bliss, Hubert Parry and John Ireland. Apparently we also gave the première of a work called Ruth by Adrian Beecham, the son of the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham.

It is interesting to learn that in the 1950s, the advent of “canned music”, and the growing popularity and availability of television, were seen as the main potential threats to the English choral tradition. We face different challenges today, particularly in the current crisis, but we shall continue to do our very best to keep the tradition of choral singing alive!

DOWNLOAD Related Document (3.81Mb)

Featured News

A big “thank you” to the Town Council

A big “thank you” to the Town Council

Sunday 1st November 2020

We are delighted to announce that our choir has been awarded a community grant of £2,000 towards the costs of having our website professionally redesigned and redeveloped.

The Cultural and Community Committee of Royal Leamington Spa Town Council makes a number of grants each year towards projects which it considers are of benefit to the local community. As well as looking for projects which “support arts and cultural opportunities”, the Committee is also keen to support initiatives which “promote health and wellbeing”, “promote community spirit and cohesion” and “address social isolation and loneliness”. We all know that singing is good for your health and wellbeing, and in the dark days of the pandemic, we can also testify to the role of our ‘virtual’ rehearsals in helping members of the choir to feel less lonely and isolated.

So we are very grateful to the Town Council for awarding us this grant, and also very grateful to our Chair, Melanie Forse, for writing what was clearly a very eloquent and persuasive application! It is particularly important at the moment, with the prospect of another lockdown looming, for the choir to exploit all possible ways of making our members feel that they ‘belong’, and of sharing news and information with one another. The website is in effect our community space, during these strange times when we cannot meet in person. Soon, we hope, we will be able to start advertising our concerts and workshops again, and looking for new singers to join our ranks, and then the website will have another vital role to play, in bringing us to the attention of a wider audience and generating support for our activities.

Thanks to the generosity of the Town Council, we were fortunate in being able to engage a professional web designer to redevelop our site for us. We already had an excellent working relationship with Ed Holding of Creative Differences (Click Here), who designs our concert programmes, flyers and posters. When we discovered that Ed also designs websites, he was the obvious person for the job - although we did follow due process and invite tenders from other companies as well. The new site has been very well received, with many people commenting on its clarity and ease of use, and the eye-catching and pleasing design. It is also very important to us that the new site is technically reliable and easy to update. So a big “thank you” also to Ed for his hard work and design skills, and for being such a pleasure to work with!

The award of this grant from the Town Council has reinforced our sense of belonging to the local community in and around Royal Leamington Spa , and we hope it will not be long before we are to able to give something back to the community, by inviting you to enjoy our music again in person!

SingWith Us

Find out more

"This is a great choir and a really friendly group. It's good to see new members of all ages." Peter


© 2020 Royal leamington Spa Bach Choir

Site Design, Build and Hosting by Creative Differences