WELCOME TO LUTON CHORAL SOCIETY

A Brief History

Contents

HOME PAGE

CONCERT DETAILS 144th SEASON

TICKETS ON LINE

HOW TO JOIN US

PHOTO LINK

CURRENT & FORMER MEMBERS

OFFICERS & CONTACT DETAILS

A BRIEF HISTORY

PREVIOUS CONCERTS

OUR MUSICAL DIRECTOR

HOW TO SUPPORT US

LINKS


Luton Choral Society started in the Autumn of 1866 from an idea begun by four local gentlemen - Joseph Hawkes, William Eustace, Henry Hawkes and Thomas Underwood.

Photo of Joseph Hawkes Joseph Hawkes became the Society's first conductor and gave its first performance - of a mixture of music from Mozart and Handel in December 1871. The first major work performed by the Society was Haydn's "Creation" - in December 1871. Since then, under only nine musical directors, it has performed in many venues within the town and elsewhere. Performances now generally take place at Stopsley Baptist Church, with the carol concert being given in a more intimate venue, such as St. Augustine's, Limbury.



Photo of Charles Inwards

Mr. Hawkes was succeeded by Charles Inwards, who conducted the Society from the 7th to 32nd Seasons (1872-1899). During this time, concerts were given at several venues in Luton - Congregrational Church, Corn Exchange, New Wesleyan Schoolroom, Plait Hall and the Town Hall. The works performed included compostions by Barnby, Beethoven, Costa, Cowen, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Rossini and Sterndale-Bennett.




Photo of Fred Gostelow From the 33rd to the 60th Season (1899-1931) the Society was under the baton of Fred Gostelow, who was also organist and choirmaster of St. Mary's (Parish) Church and a composer. During this time the Society gave concerts in additional Luton venues - Assembly Hall, Midland Road Hall and the Wesleyan Church (Chapel Street). The 50th (Golden Jubilee) Season was marked by a special concert in the Parish Church and during the 60th (Diamond Jubilee) Season, a special Festival Service was held, also in the Parish Church. The works performed in addition to those previously given under Mr Hawkes and Mr Inwards included compositions by Bach, Bizet, Brahms, Coleridge-Taylor, Dvorak, Elgar, German, Holst, Parry, Schubert and Wagner. In addition, guest conductors were invited to conduct their own compositions, including Sir Granville Bantok, Mr A. Herbert Brewer, Sir Frederick Bridge, Sir Frederick Cowen and Dr. E.T. Sweeting. Sir Henry J. Wood was also invited to conduct at several concerts.

Photo of John Fry Mr. Gostelow was succeeded by Mr. John Fry from 1931-1940 (61st-69th Seasons) and under his direction, concerts were given at venues in Luton - Assembly Hall, Central Hall (Midland Road) and Luton Parish Church. In addition to works by composers given previously, works by Bath, Gounod and Walford-Davies were also performed.




Photo of Arthur Davies Mr Fry was followed by his deputy, Mr. Arthur E. Davies from 1940-1960 (70th to 89th Seasons). He introduced a series of concerts known as "Blue Rhapsody", given in conjunction with the Luton Girls' Choir, which was also conducted by Mr. Davies. Concerts were given outside Luton, notably in Bedford, Dunstable, Eastbourne, Hitchin, Kimbolton, Leicester, Leighton Buzzard, London, Northampton, Nottingham and Watford. During the Second World War, the Society was associated with the BBC, who relocated to Bedford for the duration of hostilities, and gave concerts under famous conductors - Sir Adrian Boult and Sir Henry J. Wood. Sir Thomas Beecham conducted concerts given after the War.


Photo of Dr Kenneth Abbott Dr. Kenneth Abbott was in charge from the 90th-108th Seasons (1960-1979) and during his stay, the Society gave concerts outside Luton, notably Amersham, Berkhamsted, Bricket Wood, Hemel Hempstead, Henlow and Linslade, in addition to those visited under Arthur Davies. He also introduced some world famous soloists to the Society - Felicity Palmer, Sheila Armstrong (Sopranos), Robert Tear, Philip Langridge (Tenors) and John Carol-Case, John Lawrenson, John Heddle-Nash (Bass-Baritones). Lesley Garrett also sang with the Society as a soprano soloist and has gone on to make her name in Operatic circles and in her own television series. The Society also celebrated its 100th Season with a Centenary Dinner in the Halfway House (Dunstable) at this time.


Photo of Colin Smith Colin Smith took over from Dr. Abbott and stayed from 1980 until his untimely death in 1989 (109th-118th Seasons). During his time, he established a close relationship with Luton Symphony Orchestra and also, through Michael Rose and the Bedfordshire County Youth Orchestra, enabled the members to sing at charity concerts in the Royal Albert Hall.




Photo of Julian MannJulian Mann, conductor until the 136th season, continued to perform a wide repetoire of music from the well known choral works of Handel, Mendelssohn and Bach to the lesser known ones of Vintner, Finzi and Rutter. Under his direction, the Society gave noteworthy performances of Elgar's The Kingdom (with Jean Rigby as alto soloist) and Dream of Gerontius (with Bonaventura Bottone as tenor soloist).



RETURN TO TOP


If you have any difficulty reading this page contact the society's webmaster: