Goring Chamber Choir
Goring-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire
Goring Chamber Choir has its roots in the early 1950s when a group of friends including the local vicar and church organist met informally to sing together for their own pleasure. The group expanded, local interest grew and in February 1951 the "Goring and District Musical Society" was founded.
The first concert took place in May of that year followed by a Christmas concert with the audience joining in traditional carols. This set the pattern of the choir's year for some time - a high spot was the concert given in the coronation year when the main work was Edward German's Merrie England, followed by Zadok the Priest and Vaughan Williams' All People That On Earth Do Dwell, as in the coronation.
Alec Emerton, the founding conductor retired in the 1960s and he was followed by five conductors over the next twenty years: Christopher Mahon, Ralph Allwood, Andrew Mackay, Timothy Kermode and David House. From being a largely village based group of some thirty local singers, the numbers increased, with the choir performing major works requiring orchestras. Highlights of these years included Haydn's The Creation in All Saints, Downshire Square, Reading, and joining with a Polish choir from Lublin university to sing Szymanowski's Stabat Mater and Tippett's Negro Spirituals in Dorchester Abbey.
Since 1979 the choir has annually sung services over a weekend in English Cathedrals, a tradition begun by Andrew Mackay who was the choir's conductor for over ten years. Recent Cathedral visits have included Chichester and Durham and St. David’s. A visit to Liverpool Cathedral is planned in 2013.
The choir's present musical director and conductor is Frances Brewitt-Taylor who joined the choir in 1990 (in time to celebrate the choir's 40th anniversary in 1991) and since that time she has been a major influence. Together with Janet Pound, the choir's accompanist until 2011, Frances has continued to promote high standards. Recent highlights have been major concerts such as the 2009 concert featuring Mozart’s Mass, and 2011 saw the choir's 60th anniversary marked by a major concert in Douai Abbey entitled Beautiful Baroque with Oxford-based Charivari Agréable orchestra.
Venues have continued to be varied ranging from Pangbourne College Chapel, Douai Abbey and Trinity College Chapel, Oxford, to a garden opened for charity and carols at Reading station. Recent events have included exciting collaborations with Goring Gap Players, local primary school choirs and the Goring and Streatley Concert Band.
The Chamber Choir is still very much part of the village and takes a leading role in local events. At the Millenium Concert, in association with the local History Society, the choir performed music from the past thousand years, and to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the choir put on a sell-out concert featuring Iconic Songs of the Queen’s reign and Gilbert and Sullivan choruses at St. Thomas’ Church Goring. This was followed by a major part in the Goring and Streatley Jubilee Celebrations at the Royal Variety Performance and the “Last Night of the Proms” Torchlit Finale Concert.
Foreign tours have been a regular feature for some time now and have taken the choir to a variety of places including to Bellême, Goring's twin town in Normandy, Cantonigros in Catalunya for a worldwide choral competition, as well as Ghent, Bruges and Paris, Bilbao, Krakow and most recently in 2011 to the south of France.
Many members have been with the choir for over twenty years, some over thirty. Although no longer a small group, with singers coming from a wide area of the Thames valley, the members of the choir are still friends who have pleasure singing together.