Anniversary for Derby Choral Union

141122_DerbyChoralUnion_0016_hiresAny choir reaching its 150th anniversary would want to sing about it and the Derby Choral Union is no exception.

It has just launched its new season with a celebratory dinner and announced a concert guide that includes an autumn and Christmas concert as well as a very special event next April.

The choir’s chairman Antony Stevenson cannot emphasis more how excited they all are about the spring concert, part of which has been commissioned for the milestone year.

“We are celebrating this special season with some fantastic and well-known music as well as the new composition Thy Flight be Fleet: Trainsongs! by Kerry Andrew who is a young British composer.

“We especially asked her to compose the piece as she is young and is passionate about working with community groups like ours,” explained Anthony, who at 30 is pretty youthful himself when it comes to being a member of a choir.

It is under his influence that the 100-strong city choir has rejuvenated itself in recent months and seen an increase in younger members.

The older choristers, some of whom have given 50 years service, like their official historian Ken Spruce who is 81, realised that unless they did something there was a chance they could eventually fold.

When Antony joined them they soon spotted his potential and he was quickly made a committee member. As chairman he is sorting out their status on social media and organising events such as overseas tours that are likely to appeal to young musicians.

“We are here for people who have a passion for music who are not necessarily going to make a career out of it but want to carry on doing it in a social capacity,” he explained.

The choir’s musical director for the past 12 years has been Richard Dacey, who is an Associate of the Royal College of Music and Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

He said that his challenge each year was to find music that would appeal to both the membership and the audience and they balanced that by performing new pieces alongside their favourites.

They had a tradition of commissioning new music and the piece being performed in April will celebrate Derby’s railway heritage and has been funded by a grant from Arts Council England, he explained.

“Fittingly this work will be premiered at The Roundhouse in Derby as part of a concert which is also a celebration of English music,” he added.

The concert on April 20 will include pieces by Parry, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Elgar.

The Autumn Concert is on November 21 at 7.30pm, at Derby Cathedral and will feature Haydn’s Creation and Schubert’s Intende Voci Orationis. The choir will be accompanied by The Heart of England Chamber Orchestra, with Katie Tretheway, soprano; Mathew Minter, tenor and Michael Pearce, bass. The Christmas concert  – Handel’s Messiah –is on December 19 at 7.30pm in Derby Cathedral.

For more details about the concerts and how to get tickets go to