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STEVENAGE CHORAL SOCIETY

History

There have been music societies in Stevenage for 60 years or more, but the present Society has a history dating from 1950 when it was founded as Stevenage Music Society. The president and a very active founder Member was Elizabeth Poston, the centenary of whose birth has recently been celebrated. During the 1950s the Society presented concerts, both by its own choral and orchestral groups, and by professional performers many of whom were friends of Elizabeth Poston.

By the mid 1960s the Music Society orchestra was flourishing under the baton of Peter Wigfield but the choir had become a small chamber group. However, in 1968 a new independent choir, the "Stevenage Choral Society" gave its first concert, and soon invited Peter Wigfield to become its Musical director. Subsequently the Choral Society merged with the Music Society but kept its name for performing while the Music Society remained the promoting organisation. When Peter Wigfield left the area in 1984 the society suffered a brief downturn in its fortunes and as a result the orchestra became independent of the Music Society and now performs as Stevenage Symphony Orchestra. However the choir, for ten years under the baton of Trevor Hughes and, for a short while, Douglas Coombes, was rejuvenated and continues to thrive.

Recently the choir has become the dominant part of the society's activities and so the name of the society was formally changed to be the Stevenage Choral Society.

The Choral Society continues to promote performances by other groups often as part of a shared concert with us. In recent years these groups have included Hitchin Symphony Orchestra, Hertfordshire Philharmonia, London Pro Arte orchestra, Phoenix concert band, Stevenage youth choir, and Kingshott School chamber choir.

Our Repertoire

Recent performances have included Handel's Messiah, Theresien Masse by Haydn, Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) by Brahms, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, Magnificat by J.S.Bach, Poulenc's Gloria, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Gloria by John Rutter and Jubilate by Bob Chilcott.

Earlier performances have included Winter Bird by Douglas Coombes, The Creation by Haydn, Fauré's Requiem, Stainer's Crucifixion, Elijah by Mendelssohn, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and Bruckner's Mass in E minor.

A particular feature of the repertoire is the performance of music by living composers. We have been privileged to give a number of first performances, including "The Selfish Giant" by Paul Adrian Rooke and "Lauda" by Douglas Coombes. As part of the Breakout scheme funded by Arts Council England through Making Music Eastern we were able to work with local composer Richard Sisson and premiere "Battledore", his piece for adult and children´s choir, band and percussion.

In April 2005 we gave a performance of "The Kestrel Road" with its composer, Peter Maxwell Davies, in the audience.

In the season 2008/2009 we undertook a work by another english living composer Karl Jenkins. We performed his piece "The Armed Man".