History Of The Choral Society

The choir was formed in 1963 to give a performance of Handel's Messiah as part of the celebrations marking the 500th. anniversary of the granting of the Borough Charter by King Edward the Third. This first performance by the Choir took place in St. Wulfram's Church on Saturday 2nd. February and was conducted by Philip Lank.The orchestra on that occasion was the Leicester Symphony Orchestra (Leader Mary Thornley) and the soloists were:

Anne Abbott (soprano), Elizabeth Holden (contralto), Allan Medforth (tenor) and William Lloyd (bass). Harpsichord Continuo was provided by David Golder and the organist was Robert Jeffreys. Bob Jeffreys is still playing a very active part in the life of the Society - he sings as a bass and is a hard working member of the committee.

Following the concert it was decided that the Choir should become a permanent one and it rapidly became an important part of the cultural life of the town. Known initially as the Grantham and District Musical Society it became Grantham Choral Society in 1967.

The Society has performed with many orchestras since this time, but two orchestras have been particularly associated with us - the Manchester Mozart Players and the Graff Orchestra of Leicester. The Manchester Mozart Players performed with the choir for ten years until 1983 when the Graff orchestra took over, playing for our 20th. Anniversary Concert in St Wulfram's Church on Saturday 19th. November. This concert included the Faure Requiem and the first performance of a work by Philip Spratley, A Choral Symphony, and marked the beginning of a long and fruitful association with the Graff Orchestra. Celia Davies founded the orchestra in 1963 and has been its Leader since this time and they have performed regularly with us until last season. Currently we are experimenting with different orchestras such as the period-instrument ensemble used to accompany the St. John Passion in the April 2003 Concert.

Philip Lank was Musical Director from the inception in 1963 until 1995 when his cousin Kenneth Lank took over the baton; Kenneth retired in 2001. Philip Robinson was Musical Director from the start of the 2001 season to April 2006 and we were then led by Simon Bell who joined us at the start of the 2006 - 2007 season. Simon then left in 2008 to take up the position of Assistant Director of Music at Winchester Cathedral. Philip Robinson returned once more in 2009 and then in 2013 we welcomed Nigel stark as our Musical Director.

Similarly, the Society has had few accompanists during it's 50 years existence. Evelyn Dawes and Edna Chapman shared the task from the very beginning until 1984 when Evelyn Dawes left and was replaced by Sally Anthony. Since 1993 Sally has been our sole accompanist. All of the accompanists as well as playing for rehearsals have also taken part in performances.

The Society has always used professional soloists amongst whom there have been many who have reached the very top of their careers in music - such as Felicity Lott, Norma Procter, Ian Partridge and David Thomas.

It is with some pride that we are able to say that during our 50th Anniversary we still had 8 original members singing regularly with us.

Photograph of the Youth Choir singing in the Grantham Music Festival

The Youth Choir repertoire included spirituals and youth choir arrangements of well-known songs that are always fun to sing. The choir worked towards concerts and festival performances.

Photograph of girls in the Youth Choir
Photograph of senior male members of the Youth Choir
Photograph of young male members of the Youth Choir with Tim Williams


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