We are grateful to Life Member and Past President Janet Clarke for these photos and documents, which are from her collection of choir memorabilia. Some of the photographs are from photocopies of newsprint, so the quality is not great, but they still convey the size and the – noticeably more formal – style of the choir in past years.
Nanette Clunies-Ross and Roger Good cutting the 50th anniversary cake in 2012.
From the reviews:
"The Blenheim Choral Society presented a well-prepared and on the whole enjoyable concert to a near capacity audience in the Town Hall last night. …
"The choir set a high standard from the outset with a fine rendering of Elgar's arrangement of the National Anthem and carried this through to the final chorus from 'The Mikado'. The instrumental items were also greatly appreciated. …
"Beginning the evening were three good selections: 'Come to the Fair', 'Awake, Awake', and 'A House Stands Neath the Willow Shade', the last two to music by Brahms and unaccompanied. They set the pattern for the evening: good attack, better balance than previously with the male members arrayed in the front, and grand, well-co-ordinated choral singing." …
"Blenheim can be proud of this choir, which obviously had put a lot of work into rehearsals for this concert, which went without a hitch. Good lighting was also a feature."
From the reviews of the same concert:
"There is not doubt that the Society's chorale venture – a smaller choir from within the larger body – is an outstandingly successful innovation. …
" The chorale presented two pieces: 'Dance to Your Daddy' and "I Will Give my Love an Apple' and these were highlights of the programme. … The chorale's sing-along from the 'Gay Nineties' was also delightful and featured a pleasant contralto solo in 'After the Ball'.
From top left: George Lee, Richard Lamb, Keith Pask, Max Stewart, George Hoskins, Gerry Parker.
Front: Jo Wagenvoort, Susan Denyer, Norma Aitken, Gwen Denyer, Maureen Lamb, Janet Clarke Joyce Vercoe, Vivienne Hughes.
The choir decked out for their 25th Anniversary Concert in June 1987. The president, Rien Wagenvoort, introduced 'without apology a programme of pure nostalgia. … every item has at some time over the past 25 years been included in one of our concert programmes.' And a varied programme it was too, opening with The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Verdi's Anvil Chorus, closing with a Simon and Garfunkel medley – and showcasing every genre of music in between. A small comment by one of the reviewers will strike a chord (sorry): '… it was noticeable that the vocal tone brightened after members of the choir smiled.'
Above and left: The choir in June 2004 with Gwenette Elliott the conductor. At left the singers are: Vivienne Grigg, Shirley Kilgour, Nanette Clunies-Ross, Bett Munn, Janet Clarke, Norma Aitken.
The choir for the 50th jubilee performance, August 2012.
Caption to come