The Henley Choral Society launched their 50th anniversary programme at d:two on Monday with a celebration party welcoming guests that included Henley Mayor, founder members of the Society and past accompanist and Musical Director.
Members of the Choral Society, Musical Director, Richard Harker, Chair, Dr Tim Wilson, and accompanist of the Henley Youth Choir Anita D’Attellis were joined by Angela Whitehead, the Society’s original and long-time accompanist, Chris Walker Musical Director 1987 -1983 and Di Jones, Ann Law, and Geraldine Myer founding members. Wendy Hawkins (co-founder of the Society in 1973) and her husband Andrew a founding member also attended. Wendy is still a member and is the current Membership Secretary. Wendy was awarded the Henley Town Medal for services to the community in 2014.
Chair Dr Tim Wilson explained, “It is wonderful to look back and see how the people who founded the Society with such high hopes in 1973 have succeeded in their aims. As a charity that seeks to share a love of singing and music, to bring top class professional musical talent to our community in our concerts and to educate and encourage children and young people through our Youth Choir and bursary support schemes, we are delighted to launch an ambitious 50th Gold Anniversary Year programme.”
The public programme for the year starts on Saturday 1 April at St Mary’s Church, Henley, with a Gala Concert and World Premiere of a piece specially commissioned from British composer Cecilia McDowall. Cecilia McDowall is a British composer with a worldwide reputation and winner of the Ivor Novello Award for an ‘outstanding music collection.’ Starting with the favourite poems and texts the choir provided on the topic of rivers and water, Cecilia and her librettist, Oxford-based poet Kate Wakeling, were inspired to develop the important, and prescient, theme of man’s relationship with water, ice, and the environment. The result is a 15-minute choral composition in three movements called The Ice is Listening. The concert will also include the Vivaldi Gloria and Bach Mass in G.
On 20 May from 10.00 to 4.30pm at St Mary’s Church, the Society will present a workshop open to all singers run by renowned composer and conductor Bob Chilcott. The summer concert on 7.30pm Saturday 24th June at the Christ Church Centre will be a performance of Bob Chilcott Songs and Cries of London and A Little Jazz Mass and the Society will be joined by the Henley Youth Choir.
Saturday 14 October sees the Henley Big Sing events, one for adults and one for children. These are completely new and very exciting event for the Society and Henley, where everyone will be invited to come and sing some popular pieces and experience the joy and benefits of singing. This event will be free. The Gold 50th Anniversary year programme ends with a performance of Bach Christmas oratorio and their much-loved traditional carol concert, with plenty of audience participation.
Dr Tim Wilson concluded, “We are very thankful to Henley Town Council for generously giving us a grant to support the Bob Chilcott and Big Sing workshops. We are also delighted by the number of people who have become Gold Friends to support our work to share music-making in the community and are still looking for more. Gold Friends will receive a special invite to hear Cecilia McDowall and Kate Wakeling in conversation with Musical Director Richard Harker to discuss the composition at 6.30pm on Monday 28 February at d:two, Market Place. Listening to Cecilia and Kate talk about the piece is inspiring and I hope will make Gold Friends feel, as I do, that Henley Choral Society is supporting a work with an important international theme. We are very appreciative of those who have become Gold Commercial Sponsors and welcome more local businesses to join them.”
To become a Gold Friend, to get involved as a Gold Commercial Sponsor or see more details of the upcoming programme, please see www.henleychoralsociety.org.uk