Kathleen Sharp has been a member of The Bradford Chorale since its formation. Here she gives a brief, personal history of ‘Our Choir’.
‘The inaugural meeting of the choir took place of January 6th 1976 in the church hall of St James, Thornton, Bradford. The lady seated at a table by the door took my name/voice and handed me several pieces of music. The hall was quite full, being small, I found a place near the front.
There were to be no auditions, everyone had been personally invited by James Ashworth, the young man who was to be Musical Director and Mentor. He explained his ideas and ambitions for the choir, he hoped we would be able to give a performance around Eastertime. We would be known as ‘The Ashworth Singers’, rehearse every Tuesday in the hall, and pay a modest weekly subscription to defray costs.
We then sang through the pieces. I had not sung with such a large group of mixed voices before – it was very exciting! On my way home I determined, that whatever efforts I had to make, I wanted to sing with this choir.
The first concert was held on Maundy Thursday in St James. We sang ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ (Mozart), ‘Ave Maria’ (Bruckner) and ‘Requiem’ (Faure). I was on Cloud Nine! ‘NEW CHOIR MAKES FIRST CLASS DEBUT’ was the verdict of the local press.
(Photograph of ‘The James Ashworth Singers’ taken in 1976 at Thornton Parish Church )
New members were auditioned and on at least one occasion the whole choir, which produced some interesting results. One lady admitted that she couldn’t sing a note; she came to keep an eye on her husband!
When James decided he needed to concentrate on his personal singing career, an advertisement for a new conductor was placed in several local papers. In a short time several applications were received but the secretary thought that special attention should be paid to the one which included a reference from Sir Georg Sölti!! Thus Douglas Robinson (Robbie), retired chorus master of Covent Garden and lately of Huddersfield Choral came to us. As a result of a poll taken by the choir we became Bradford Chorale. Douglas ran a tight ship, Sunday afternoon extra rehearsals were scheduled when necessary. His last concert was a performance of ‘The Messiah’ for which he, the choir, and musicians were afforded a standing ovation.
Since then we have had a number of conductors of varying ages, each with different ideas of performance. A few were gems, and we have such a one now. Paul has the vigour and daring to lead the choir down new and exciting paths. The future is bright, see our Future programmes leaflet.
I know of no better antidote to life’s woes than music making. So if you can, come and join us. If that is not possible, come to a concert and give us a hearing.’
(Christmas Concert with the City of Bradford Brass Band in aid of The Lord Mayor’s Charity: Marie Curie Cancer Care, Bradford Hospice. December 2011 at Victoria Hall Saltaire)
Handel's ‘Messiah’ in an arrangement for brass band and choir with the championship-winning Reg Vardy Band.
7:30pm, 31st March 2012, Bradford Cathedral.
A concert of European sacred music culminating in Fauré's beautiful setting of the ‘Requiem’.
7:30pm, 21st April 2012, St. Paul's Church, Shipley.
Further details from: www.bradfordchorale.org.uk