Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir is forty years old this year – or forty years young, as they prefer to put it. They are taking on fresh ideas and looking to new horizons, and, as one seasoned member puts it, ‘Somehow you come out of a Monday night choir practice feeling younger than when you went in.’
The anniversary season
The highlight of the year is the Ruby Anniversary concert on Saturday 17 May 2014 in Chapel-en-le-Frith Methodist Church. Four special guests, who have each helped shape the choir over the past 40 years, will be taking part. Norma Clough, a leading Buxton soprano and the choir’s musical director from 1978 to 2004, will conduct two of her favourite items. At the piano for these pieces will be Alison Wheeldon, who was the choir’s accompanist throughout most of Norma’s 26 years with the choir. There will be solos from soprano Lucy Myers (née Crew), who took over from Norma in 2004. Alison Bletcher, a professional musician who trained at the Royal Academy of Music, will perform recorder solos. She stood in as conductor for two terms in 2010 before handing over to the present musical director Dorian Kelly in 2011. The choir will be singing several well-loved pieces from its repertoire, and also two special compositions which Dorian has created for the anniversary. These two songs, Carillon and Wingbeat of Time, use echoing melodies in three parts to haunting effect, with lyrics from poems written by choir member Judy Brown.
The Ruby Anniversary concert is one in a series of events marking this special year. They began with a sparkling Christmas concert with Fairfield Band last December. Next there’s a charity concert at Whaley Bridge Uniting Church on 29 March in aid of the Chapel-en-le-Frith Mobile Physiotherapy Service. On 27 June the Ladies Choir joins Tideswell Male Voice Choir in Tideswell Church, and on 26 July they will return to Whaley Bridge Uniting Church to raise money for Daniel’s Light in another charity concert. They are also recording some favourite songs on a CD.
Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir has developed a distinctive voice and sense of identity. It numbers around 45 singers, aged from their teens to their 80s, who between them make Chapel Town Hall a warm and friendly place to be every Monday evening. The music they sing mixes old and new, traditional and modern, and is full of lovely tunes and interweaving harmonies. The repertoire crosses styles and continents: from English folksongs to Zulu chants, Broadway hits to spirituals; and it gains an extra sparkle from Dorian Kelly’s original compositions and arrangements.
Dorian is a composer, instrumental teacher and examiner, as well as conductor. A graduate of Trinity College of Music, he teaches brass and writes music for media use as well as for choirs and ensembles. At Chapel he is supported at the piano by the choir’s wonderfully skilled and patient accompanist Jane Simmons.
Singing in Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir is about making music together and finding new friends. The choir always welcomes new members. There are no auditions, and you don’t need to be able to read music – just be willing to listen and join in. Rehearsals take place at Chapel Town Hall on Monday evenings from 7.45 to 9.45pm. Non-singers who would like to support the choir are welcome to join as Friends. If you’d like to find out more, or think about joining, visit the website at http://www.chapel-en-le-frithladieschoir.co.uk/, find the choir on Facebook, or call the secretary Margaret Cooper on 01298 814015.
Saturday 29 March 7.30pm: Whaley Bridge Uniting Church – charity concert in aid of Chapel Mobile Physiotherapy with guests Holmfirth Concertina & Accordion Band
Saturday 17 May 7.30pm: Chapel-en-le-Frith Methodist Church – Ruby Anniversary Concert featuring leading lights from the choir’s past: Norma Clough, Alison Wheeldon, Lucy Myers and Alison Bletcher
Friday 27 June 7.30pm: Tideswell St John the Baptist Church – guests of Tideswell Male Voice Choir
Saturday 26 July 7.30pm: Whaley Bridge Uniting Church – charity concert for Daniel’s Light in aid of adult leukaemia research; guests to be confirmed