Two anniversaries will be celebrated at Chesterfield’s Crooked Spire on November 5. It is the day the town’s philharmonic choir launches its 50th season, and it also happens to be the 80th birthday of their longest serving member.
In fact Tony Hallam has been a member for longer than the choir has officially existed as he joined with his wife Gwen when it was called the Chesterfield Choral Union.
He has no plans to be giving up his passion just yet either, and proudly says that until two years ago he had never missed a concert.
“The choir is like a huge family to me and it really has become a way of life. Thursday night is rehearsal night and this is where you find me.
“It is not only the music it is the friendships you make and the joy you get from seeing young people go on to become successful musicians,” he said.
The membership is currently about 80-strong but they are always keen to welcome new singers to the fold says the musical director Steven Roberts, pictured above, who has been leading them for the past 20 years.
“We have a good reputation and soloists and orchestras enjoy being with us. We are not afraid to try something a little different,” he said.
His words were echoed by current chairman Rachel Swann who said: “There is great breadth and diversity to the music we do and we like to showcase that.”
And that’s exactly what they are doing with their golden anniversary season. They are kicking it off with Music of War and Peace at the Church of St Mary and All Saints, The Crooked Spire, at 3pm on November 5.
It includes music by Karl Jenkins, including For The Fallen and excerpts from The Armed Man Suite, Mealor’s Wherever You Are (as sung by The Military Wives’ Choir with Gareth Malone) and will include songs from the First World War, local stories and home-grown readings, read by Chesterfield Mayor Steve Brunt.
Special guest Jonathan Scott, a regular of Radio 2’s The Organist Entertains, will be accompanying and playing solo, including Elgar’s Nimrod.
On April 1 next year the choir’s spring concert will be entitled Glad and Glorious and will include three special commissions exclusive to the 50th anniversary. The annual Choral Day staged by the choir will be on June 3 and on June 24 they are planning something a little bit different at the Winding Wheel in Chesterfield.
Pheeling Good with the Phil is going to be a lively upbeat concert set in a cabaret environment.
“We plan to break the mould a little by taking the music down into the audience. Definitely something I am looking forward to,” said Steven who will be conducting.
Tickets are available from Chesterfield Tourist Information Centre on 01246 345777, or online at http://www.chestphilchoir.org.uk where there are details about how to join.