Twenty seven years ago, the founding members of the Maesbury Singers were originally singing in the adult choir that supported the boys’ choir at Downside School. A few members of the adult choir decided to form a small chamber choir, at first called the “Summer Chorus” later to be known as the “Maesbury Singers”.
We met in the house of two of the members in Oakhill, near Shepton Mallet and started with the sort of repertoire we had enjoyed when singing with the adult choir at Downside. We met weekly, as we have done (other than in August) ever since.
At first we had no conductor but, having been invited to perform at a concert and intending to perform without a conductor, we had second thoughts at the afternoon rehearsal and asked Dawn Hardyman, a well known local musician, if she would conduct us that evening in the concert. It is to Dawn’s eternal credit that she did not bat an eyelid and proceeded to put us through our paces at the concert. We had not realised until then how badly we needed a conductor. Dawn kindly agreed to become our permanent conductor and was with us for eight years
After Dawn moved on, we were lucky to secure the services of Nicholas Keyworth as conductor, now director of the Corsham Festival and, formerly, chief examiner for Trinity College of Music. Nick took us to an entirely new level, writing or arranging pieces for us. We sang works by Monteverdi, Handel, Bach, Mozart, Glen Gould, Ariel Ramirez and Coleridge Taylor. Concerts were often choreographed to make best visual and acoustic use of the chosen venue, where the choir would move to different parts of the building to perform. Nick had a relaxed style and never worried about us being under-rehearsed. We were certainly on our mettle with him.
Our next conductor was Ralph Kerr, the deputy director of music at Downside, re-establishing the choir’s link with the school. His hard work and connections enabled us to participate in services ranging from Anglican Evensong at Wells Cathedral to Catholic High Mass in St John’s Church Bath.
After Ralph became a deputy housemaster at Downside, we were again on the lookout for a conductor. We had always had strong links with the Vicars Choral in Wells, many of whom had sung solos for us and were very fortunate to have our present conductor, Iain Macleod Jones, one of the Vicars Choral, take us on. He has considerably developed our skills and introduced us to some wonderful repertoire.
Throughout this time, the membership of the choir has remained astonishingly consistent. We have sadly said goodbye to some who have moved away from the area or found the commitment too great to continue. But new members have joined and we are fortunate to have a cohort of well-balanced voices covering the entire spectrum from top soprano to deep bass. We are now friends over many years and rely on one another, as a good choir should. Singing in a small group teaches accuracy but also reliance on others which is rewarding and, occasionally, frustrating!
We are always looking for new members so, if you are enthusiastic about choral singing and enjoy varied styles of music, we would love to hear from you. A reasonable standard of music reading is required but this is a skill that is honed in rehearsal. We are a friendly group, meeting once a week on a Tuesday. Do Contact Us.