Choral celebrates 150 years

Members of Peterhead Choral Society will be celebrating 150 years with a special concert.
Members of Peterhead Choral Society will be celebrating 150 years with a special concert.

This year sees the 150th anniversary of the founding of Peterhead Choral Society and the current members will be celebrating with a special anniversary concert in Longside Parish Church on Sunday, May 14, at 7.30pm.

The society was inaugurated in 1867 when a band of musical enthusiasts, “being anxious to further the interests of musical science” met and agreed to form an association under William Donald, the Town’s Inspector of the Poor, as their first president.

Robert Cooper, Aberdeen was the first conductor, but was succeeded a year later by James Wood.

He was the leader of the Bon Accord Band in Aberdeen and had performed for Queen Victoria.

Much of the Choral’s output under Mr Wood was Gilbert and Sullivan operas, but on Warren T. Clemens taking over in 1907 the repertoire turned more to oratorio.

In the early years of the twentieth century crowds flocked to the choral’s concerts and special trains were laid on from and to Aberdeen to transport the huge audiences attracted.

World famous soloists were called upon, including Dame Clara Butt one of the most famous sopranos of her day.

The choral’s fortunes flagged a little around the time of the Second World War but they were revived by Miss Bessie May, who will be well known to older Peterhead residents.

For the last 37 years, the choral has been under the baton of musical director, Alistair Macdonald and has specialised again in oratotio and shorter religious works.

Current president, Lawrence Bandura, is arranging for as many former members as can be contacted to be invited along to the anniversary concert.

“This” he said, “will be an exciting concert of church music spanning four centuries, including works by Byrd, Telemann, Mendelssohn, Holst and Howells.

“The concert will also include excerpts from Vivaldi’s ever popular “Gloria” and a new Anthem, “Et filiae et filii”, specially written for the occasion by Roger B Williams who will be the accompanist for the evening.”

Tickets for the concert , which are available at the door on the evening, will be £8, Concessions £6 and under 16s free. This will include a slice of anniversary cake and a glass of bubbly.