Choral

History of the Society from 1973 till 2002

by Brian Marks (bass from 1973 to 2004), July 2010

Trinity Music Society was formed in 1973 by Pat Salisbury (Choirmaster at Holy Trinity Church) and Rolfe Tomlinson and supported by a small group of music enthusiasts. There had been several musical evenings at Holy Trinity before this, held in the new church hall, which proved that there was a considerable amount of musical talent to draw on. The church choir provided the back bone, but this was not intended to be solely a church organisation and was open to all. From the start the Society also encouraged instrumental performers, and informal evenings were held in members' homes.

The first concert took place on November 24th 1973 and consisted of the Advent Music from Handel's Messiah, the Adagio for organ and strings by Albinoni and Bach's Cantata No. 140 'Sleepers, Wake'.

Glyn Martin conducting TMS in winter 1995
Glyn Martin conducting TMS in winter 1995

In the early years the Society had little financial resources and backing, and the space available in the church for performance by choir and orchestra was limited. This was considerably improved in 1980 when the front two pews were removed.

An early notable performance was of Britten’s cantata St. Nicolas, with no less than the late Philip Langridge as soloist. Other notable soloists who have performed with the Society have included David Wilson Johnson, John Elwes, Jean Rigby, Harry Christophers, Rufus Muller and John Mark Ainsley.

The choice of repertoire has always been important with a good mix of familiar and less known works, and the Society established itself by concentrating on that area of the repertoire which falls between the 19th century choral works and the chamber choir output. There has been a considerable amount of English music performed by such composers as Britten, Holst, Finzi, Tippett, Gardner, Vaughan Williams, Leighton, Parry, Michael Hurd, Bryan Kelly, Dyson, Berkeley, Bliss, Rutter and Elgar.

In 1981 the Society was proud to give the first public performance in this country of the Czech composer Martinu’s cantata 'Romance from the Dandelions'. This was coupled with the Dvorak Mass in D Major in an all Czech programme.

Considerable support was given to the Society by the late Ernest Lough who lived locally and often attended the choir’s performances and for several seasons sang with the choir. He was the Society’s President from 1985 till his death in 2000.

Glyn Martin who had become the choir’s conductor in 1976 retired in 2002 after conducting no less than 53 concerts plus the numerous summer concerts in the church hall which were held for raising Society funds and often included donations to charities.

Choir history, from programme notes, articles and photographs

by Lilo Bleasdale (alto from 1986), July 2010, with later updates

Picture from newspaper article 1976
From right Rolfe Tomlinson, Glyn Martin,
secretary Joan Harrison and Brian Marks

From the old programme notes one can learn that in June 1973 the Society was founded as Trinity Music Society – Rolfe Tomlinson was chairman and Pat Salisbury conductor. The aims of the new Society were published in the programme of the first concert on 24th November 1973 which attracted an audience of over 200.

The winter 1974 programme mentions the Society’s affiliation with the National Federation of Music Societies. (In spring 1975 acknowledgement was given for the Society’s support by Hillingdon Arts Association, from winter 1983 onwards also by Greater London Arts.) Rehearsal pianists Mary Hands and Brian Marks were thanked, also Paul Knappett in his role as répétiteur and assistant conductor (he conducted the winter 1975 concert). The first list of choir members was published in the winter 1974 programme.

For the spring 1976 concert Glyn Martin took up the baton and remained conductor for all concerts of the Society up to the spring 2002 concert. Glyn Martin's cv was published in the silver jubilee programme of winter 1997.

TMS logo

The logo for Trinity Music Society first appeared on the concert programme of spring 1980. The winter 1982 programme lists the Society’s patrons for the first time. Also mentioned was Aurie Anderson as Society secretary (previous secretaries being Joan Harrison and Joan Matthews). Aurie later became secretary for the Society's patrons.

Paul Babbedge was gratefully acknowledged as accompanist in the spring 1984 programme. He remained rehearsal pianist till spring 2004, two years after Glyn Martin’s retirement. (He was followed by pianist Avid Stier from winter 2004, who was joined by Michael Joyce from spring 2004. Since winter 2006 the Society’s accomplished accompanist is David Smith.)

In 1984 Rolfe Tomlinson had become Trinity Music Society’s president, followed in 1985 by Ernest Lough till his death in 2000. (Then The Rt. Hon. Sir John Dyson, choir member in the bass section from the earliest years of the Society and chairman for some time, became president.)

The winter 1994 programme acknowledges Marie-Jo Brown as secretary, a post she held till spring 2005 when Carol Bowman took over, followed by Nikki Hind in winter 2007. Graham Wheeler is secretary since spring 2013.

NCS logo

After Glyn Martin retired, Stephen Hope became the Society’s musical director and conductor in winter 2002. Six years later the Society changed its name from Trinity Music Society to Northwood Choral Society with the hope to attract new singers and audiences from a wider field. The new logo for Northwood Choral Society first appeared on the spring 2008 programme.

The first website (for Trinity Music Society) was created by James Henderson in spring 2001. John Ling put Northwood Choral Society on the world wide web. The new website for Northwood Choral Society was set up by Lilo Bleasdale in summer 2010.

After a term under Interim Musical Director David Vinden during autumn 2014, his son Theo Vinden took over as Musical Director for NCS in January 2015 till summer 2016. In October 2016 Mark Biggins took up the baton, and in September 2017 Julie Bale became Musical Director.

Official choir photographs

Aurie Anderson receiving an award

Award ceremony at Uxbridge Civic Centre, July 2008

Each year awards are made by the Hillingdon Arts Association in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the arts in the London Borough of Hillingdon. These awards are presented by the Mayor at the Annual General Meeting of Hillingdon Arts Association.

In 2008 Aurie Anderson was nominated by Northwood Choral Society and on 2nd July she received her Hillingdon Arts Association award at the Civic Centre in Uxbridge, Middlesex. The citation read:

Aurie Anderson, HAA award

"Aurie's position gives little indication as to how much she has done for the choir over a period of 33 years. She has been a member of the choir since it was first formed in 1973 as Trinity Music Society. She joined the committee 2 years after the choir's inception and has held the position of Secretary for 12 years, finally becoming Vice Chairman. It is no exaggeration to say that her commitment and energy have been responsible for the choir's continued existence. She is a person who can be relied upon to do the many jobs that arise so constantly in an amateur society but which are not easily assigned to a committee officer. She is an excellent organizer of people, for example organizing supper for over a hundred people at the Summer Concert.

She has been responsible for publicizing all the Society's events and has built up a number of very productive contacts. Aurie is responsible for recruiting, encouraging and communicating with the many patrons of the Society whose support both financially and otherwise have been invaluable.

She has undertaken the administration of the choir's trips abroad and its joining with other choirs for special events. She has attended almost every rehearsal and given unstintingly of her time since the choir was first founded.

Aurie is likely to be moving closer to her family and her membership is likely to come to an end."

In fact Aurie returned to sing with Northwood Choral Society for a few years and continued to be secretary for the choir's patrons till 2011.

Trinity Music Society – memories from the early days

by Susan Henderson (alto from the mid 70's to 2010), July 2010

I was involved with the Trinity Music Society from the early days. I didn't quite make it as a performer in the first concert, but my three brothers, who were in the Holy Trinity School choir at the time, sang in the ripieno chorus for Bach's "Sleeper’s Wake" at the first concert. I remember that there was some row about whether they should wear their school tie or a home tie and they had to stuff both ties in their shorts' pockets.

Susan Henderson

A year or so later, they took part in Britten's St Nicholas - Adrian was the young St Nicholas and sang up in the pulpit with Philip Langridge (he still remembers this) and Peter and Christopher were two of the pickled boys who walked up the aisle as they came to life. My first concert and indeed my first choral music was when I joined the choir to sing Haydn's Nelson Mass and Finzi's "In Terra Pax". Apart from a few breaks for university and when we lived in Aberdeen and Brussels, I have sung with Trinity Music Society and Northwood Choral Society ever since. I have recently moved away from the Northwood area, but intend to come back for concerts and maybe to join in.

In 1979 I met my late husband, James, through the choir. We were very fortunate those days in having four strong tenors in their early 20s, and James continued to sing all his life. He had originally wanted to join the society to play his violin, but Aurie Anderson wisely persuaded him that, if he sang instead, he could join us for rehearsals every week rather than just at concert time. Some of our early concerts together were the Duruffle "Requiem" and the Bruckner "Motets" and I think he had a few solo lines in Bach's "St John Passion" one year. Our last concert together was Elgar's "Dream of Gerontius" in Arundel Cathedral, when the choir joined with Stephen Hope's other choirs. Our two sons used to sit at the back of the church in pushchairs for the afternoon rehearsals. They are both musical - but of a very different type.

In the early days, as well as the choral concerts, there were also a couple of "Music in Miniature" events, when Pat Salisbury's son Simon brought his music college friends to perform. One of the concerts I remember was when his Aulos Wind Quintet played. My family knew the music well, as they used to practice in our dining room, often accompanied by our dog Brandy wishing to join in.

Rolfe Tomlinson, the Chairman, also hosted "Informal Music Evenings" at his house, when society members would perform short items and then enjoy drinks and nibbles afterwards. I was persuaded to play my clarinet a few times, which was good practice for grade examinations. Over the years, these informal evenings have continued on and off hosted by various generous society members, including Aurie Anderson, Marie-Jo Brown and John Dyson. We have certainly heard some treats and uncovered the hidden talents of many society members in these evenings.

Robert Crowley was our accompanist for a number of years. His wife Melanie Goddard sang the alto solos at many of the early concerts. I believe that the summer concerts were originally Robert's idea to keep us singing through the summer months. One year we sang madrigals with some highly suggestive words, so it was difficult to keep a straight face. Another year I played the Finzi "Bagatelles" on my clarinet, accompanied by Robert – clear evidence of how the standard of the music we perform has improved over the years.

Trinity Music Society and Northwood Choral Society has been a central part of my life for about 35 years. Outside work and family, music and singing in particular is my main activity. It allows me to switch off from other concerns and revel in the sounds. It can be hard work and challenging, but when it comes together, it can be so beautiful that I want to cry. I want to sing my whole life and that spark started with the Trinity Music Society. Over the years, I have made many good friends in the choir. I would encourage anyone to give it a go. You will get a warm welcome at Northwood Choral Society as well as the opportunity to join with others to make a wonderful sound.

Our President remembers

by Sir John Dyson (bass from 1974), August 2010

John Dyson

I joined the choir in 1974 and I think that I have only missed one main concert and one summer concert. I have great affection for the choir and do hope that it continues to flourish. I am sure that under Stephen Hope, although the numbers have dropped, the standard has risen!

I recall singing for many years under Glyn Martin. He inspired great affection in the members and was (almost) always very patient with us. In those days we tackled some big works. I particularly recall Handel oratorios like Samson and Judas Maccabeus and the Bach St. John Passion (twice) as well as the Mozart Requiem and Haydn's Creation. One year we performed what was said to be the UK première of Martinu's "Romance of the Dandelions". I have no idea whether it was or not, and we didn't do it very well! Brian Marks has no doubt supplied a full list of what we performed until he left. I am sorry that he left. I sang next to him for many years.

Ernest Lough sang in the choir for a short time. That was quite something! He then became our President for a long time. He was a lovely gentle man who was most famous for what he did at the age, I think, of 14 (boys' voices broke later in the 20s than nowadays).

The summer concerts were always great fun and very popular. In the early days they were a sell-out. We tended to sing madrigals and English vocal music. Glyn Martin was very keen on Frank Bridge's "The Bee" which we must have sung 4 times! Aurie Anderson orchestrated the food. My ridiculous issuing of the food instructions came about one year entirely spontaneously when I started to read out the meticulous and unwittingly comic instructions that she had given to me. The tradition of my speech then gained momentum and must have lasted for at least 10 years!