Anniversary concert marks 70 years for Lowestoft Choral Society

Lowestoft Choral Society is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Picture: Hannah Bannister.

Lowestoft Choral Society is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Picture: Hannah Bannister. - Credit: Archant

And on Sunday, the group will be marking their platinum anniversary with a special concert in the town.

Lowestoft Choral Society at the Sparrows Nest Theatre in 1951. Olive Guymer is one of the contraltos

Lowestoft Choral Society at the Sparrows Nest Theatre in 1951. Olive Guymer is one of the contraltos. Picture: Courtesy of Lowestoft Choral Society. - Credit: Archant

The society's journey started on December 18, 1946 when singers gathered to perform Handel's Messiah in the then London Road Congregational Church. It was so enjoyable that in January 1947, the singers decided to officially form the Lowestoft Choral Society.

Their inaugural concert was held on July 9, 1947.

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft M

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft Marina Theatre. in 2006. Picture: Archant library. - Credit: Archant � 2006

Ninety-year-old Olive Guymer joined the group aged 23 in 1950. She spent a period away from the area, but in October will have been performing with the society for 37 years.

She said: 'I had always been interested in singing. When I was a young girl my mother and aunt used to sing all the old fashioned hymns on Sunday nights at the piano.

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft M

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft Marina Theatre. in 2006. Picture: Archant library. - Credit: Archant � 2006

'But it's not just the singing, it's the friendliness of it all.

'When I was at work I used to go in on Tuesdays and get all my typing done because I was excited to go to the group that evening.'

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft M

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft Marina Theatre. in 2006. Picture: Archant library. - Credit: Archant � 2006

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There will be 35 members singing in the anniversary concert, with ages ranging from 20s up to 90s.

The concert is being held at Our Lady Start of the Sea Church in Lowestoft at 7pm on Sunday. There will be scared music performed in the first half, with English folk songs in the second.

Lowestoft Choral Society being presented with the Spirt of Lowestoft Shielf in 1998. Pictured is for

Lowestoft Choral Society being presented with the Spirt of Lowestoft Shielf in 1998. Pictured is former Waveney chairman Irene Turrell, Ian Prettyman, Katie Urry and Jean Knibbs from the choral society and former Journal editor Barry Hartley. Picture: Archant library.

The event also coincides with the 70th anniversary of RSPB Minsmere, and there will be music to mark the occasion.

Director and conductor Jennifer Baker said: 'I'm really quite honoured to be involved and I'm very conscious of the long history of the choral society and it's place in the town. I think one of the things we tend to do very well as an organisation is to celebrate music in a very joyful way.'

Tickets cost £10 and are available from members or on the door.

New members are welcome to join the group and anyone interested can call Pat Myhill on 01502 742185, or search for Lowestoft Choral Society on Facebook.

History of the group

Over the years, the choral society has performed at a variety of venues including Lowestoft, Oulton Broad and Southwold churches, the South Pier Pavilion, Sparrows Nest Theatre and the Marina Theatre.

In at least one concert, the stage was built out of empty fish boxes.

The society also ventured abroad to Holland in 1986, and sang in Gouda cathedral and Katwijk - then twinned with Lowestoft - as part of an exchange visit of choirs from both towns.

A long association with the Millard-Tolhurst Orchestra started in 1949, and the society has also joined forces with the Lowestoft Orchestral Society, Waveney Sinfonia and the Lowestoft Concert Orchestra.

In 1998, the group was awarded the Waveney District Council 'Spirit of Lowestoft Shield' for making a major contribution to the life of the community.

Leslie Mills was the first musical director/conductor from 1947 to 1950, and since then the baton has passed through the hands of seven others.

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