Magazines Articles about the choir

Article for So-fah magazine -June 2017 issue

First of all, just a little bit of history about this northern choir to whet the reader's appetite . Scarborough Musical Society was formed in 1912 at the ?instigation of several musical enthusiasts .Mr A Claude Keeton F.R.C.O. who had come to Scarborough in 1911 aged around 25 to take up a post as the organist of All Saint's Church, Falsgrave, was invited to become its musical director. The first concert was a great success both musically and financially and as early as April 1912 a performance of Dvorak's Stabat Mater had been given. A C Keeton went on to become organist at both St Mary's and Choirmaster at St Martin's on the Hill churches before leaving Scarborough in 1959. After his departure there was some doubt as to whether the choir would continue and the local North Riding of Yorkshire County Council was approached for support. It continued in the guise of an evening class at Westwood for a while conducted by Leslie Burtenshaw followed by Matthew England under whose tenure it changed name to the Scarborough Choral Society on 8 May 1967 at the AGM. Initially some of the more mature members expressed concern at the change of name but it was pointed out that this move removed any ambiguity as to its purpose. Happily the choir went on to flourish under a number of conductors and celebrated its centenary in 2012 with a special concert including Musicks Empire; a work specially commissioned by the choral society composed by Richard Shephard and based on the poem by Andrew Marvell. We currently have around 80 members and an average Monday night attendance of around 60. Although the choir meets in Scarborough it was for many years one of the very few choral groups in an essentially rural area. Over the years members have travelled and still travel considerable distances to rehearsals including our current musical director. Folk have even been known to travel from York if they get a whiff of J S Bach.. Our repertoire has ranged from the Bach passions to English music through the ages from Tudor times to the present day and relatively recent works such as Bob Chilcott's On Christmas Night. .Stalwarts such as Haydn's Creation and of course Messiah are still very popular . Evelyn Halford has been our musical director since 2009 and through her constant encouragement really helped to focus our minds on the task in hand ably supported by the highly talented Frank James who can add talks to the local archaeological and historical society to his many musical talents and is an expert on the World War One attack by German submarines on Scarborough and Whitby. He is also involved in running a regular series of very popular lunchtime concerts at the local library in Scarborough Evelyn has a seemingly endless list of contacts within the musical community both locally and nationally and we have the good fortune to have access to a wide variety of talented soloists many of whom are good friends. Len Thackery who until recently was a long serving chairman is still a vital link as regards searching out orchestral players in the area . Happily there are a number of choral groups in the area performing a wide variety of music and with which the choir has close links through current members including particularly St Hildas Festival Chorus in Whitby and the Community Choir in Scarborough . This is particularly important at a time when sadly some local choral societies have disappeared such as that in Bridlington. There are also very close links with Scarborough Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Friends who joined with us in our most recent concert to give a rendition of Haydn's Creation . Over the years various concert venues have varied from the dramatic setting of St Mary's Church, Scarborough on the headland where, incidentally, Anne Bronte is buried, through to Bridlington Priory , Queen Street and Westborough Methodist Churches and next year we will be performing at St.Hilda's Church in Whitby. We are looking forward to an exciting programme in 2018 and particularly the joint ventures with our local orchestras and choirs. Meanwhile in December this year we will be tackling Bach's Christmas Oratorio including the whole of part 1 and sections from parts 2 to 5 ...with a few da capos overlooked ! This will be an interesting addition to the Bach repertoire following performances of the St Matthew Passion in 2011 in St Mary's Church when the two choirs had the added challenge of being unable to see each other because of pillars blocking the view, and then the St. John Passion at Westborough in 2014.Evelyn took the bold step of setting the theme of English music through the ages for our Spring 2016 concert. Members of the choir also organised a workshop on Stainer's Crucifixion earlier this year extending an invitation to anyone who wishing to join us and learn more about the work. As we move further into the 21st Century it is increasingly important that we encourage the next generation to become aware of and enjoy choral music. To this end links are being developed with local sixth form and FE colleges as well as schools. Local sixth form students have joined the choir and benefited from being able to learn works through the experience of choral singing before moving onto higher education and then make their way in the professional music world .

Further details can be found on our website www.scarboroughchoral.com