RETRO: Diamond choir has been shining bright for 60 years

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A Wellingborough choir formed in 1953 by a publican and part-time music teacher is celebrating 60 years of entertaining audiences.

The Wellingborough Orpheus Choir was the brainchild of Frank Stalvies, who directed the choir at Wellingborough Technical Institute (now Tresham College) when he was told the institute wanted to take a heavier hand in how the choir was run.

The choir at a 1977 concert at All Hallows Church to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee

The choir at a 1977 concert at All Hallows Church to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee

Mr Stalvies resigned from his position in protest and decided to start his own choir.

He was joined by many members of the Technical Institute Choir and the new group held its first meeting at the Victoria School Hall in October 1953 where the choir’s name was chosen and committee elected.

The choir’s history has been documented in a book put together by its public relations officer Maureen Williams.

In her introduction to the 52-page book, Maureen said: “The idea of writing a history of the choir came to me when I was talking to our chairman, Cath Fuller, about what we might do to celebrate the choir’s diamond jubilee.

“I started by looking at the AGM minutes, which went right back to 1953, and the committee minutes, which have been kept from 1955 onwards.

“Some things have changed a great deal in 60 years, but some issues crop up again and again – trying to start rehearsals on time, to get the men to sit in a ‘wedge’ in the centre of the choir, the need for more tenors, complaints about having to sit in a different place for performances.”

Maureen said she was also helped out by the choir’s archives, which included many press cuttings from the Northamptonshire Telegraph.

The choir celebrated its 60th anniversary in April, with a performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Then, in July, the group held a meal and music evening at the Commonwealth Centre in Wollaston, which was attended by a number of founder members and former musical director Alan Chesters.

A further celebration takes place at Great Harrowden Church on Saturday, October 26, from 7.30pm, when the choir will be presenting a concert of light music.

The book is on sale, priced £7.50, at Wellingborough Library although copies may not be available until early next week.

For more information, visit www.orpheuschoir.info.