The Crowthorne Music Society was formed in 1967 to bring together the College and the people of Crowthorne through choral music. Amazingly, a few of those original members still sing with us today (see Past Performances). The choir later became Crowthorne Choral Society, but the strong link with the College remained, and is still an integral part of who we are. Our Musical Directors have all been Directors of Music in College, we rehearse in College, and students and staff regularly perform with us in our concerts, which all take place in venues within the College. We are constantly aware of the invaluable support and privilege we enjoy through this long association.
The Musical Directors since 1967
Early Years of Crowthorne Choral Society
Belinda Dauncey, my late wife, had sung in choirs ever since her school days. Naturally she volunteered in 1967 when Jared Armstrong, then Head of Music at Wellington College, was looking for adult voices to support the boys. This made it much easier to include oratorio and other ambitious music in their repertoire.
At first, Jared did everything. He chose the music, obtained the scores, rehearsed the singers, found soloists and orchestral musicians, organised tickets and arranged not only a hall for the performance but sometimes even some post-concert drinks. As far as I am aware singers paid no subscription. Quite quickly the choir became bigger and Jared introduced a small subscription, presumably to go towards the hire of extra scores. I may be fooling myself, but I remember it as being less than a pound!
Although I had sung in the church choir as a little boy and “played with myself” on a cheap guitar at university, my only choral experience was listening to the new choir’s performances. In the mid 70’s I decided it would be more fun to sing in the choir than just listen to it.
The choir did two or three performances a year during the Michaelmas and Hilary terms and nothing in the summer. For some celebration (I forget what, certainly not my joining), Jared arranged a stand-up drinks-and-nibbles party on the lawn behind the music school one early May evening and the choir stood around to sing a few short part songs and a suitable excerpt or two from a “proper” performance. This led to the idea of a self-catered late May Buffet Concert of lighter works. Threatening weather drove the first one from the quad into the dining room, where it stayed for many years, becoming bigger and later in the term.
When Jared retired, the new head of music, Keith Pusey, inherited the choir, as have all subsequent ones . He wanted us to take on more of the administration and to do more than just support the boys. . It had become more difficult to interest students in choral music. This led to the formation of a committee, some performances in which students took a smaller part, and a subscription to meet the higher costs As now, the school continued to provide free rehearsal and performance facilities and much time and effort on the part of the conductor/musical director, over and above the actual rehearsals. Successive musical Directors have followed this concept.