History

A short history

The Guernsey Chamber Choir first performed at the Town Church in 1982. The brainchild of Alan Gough, the invitation choir brought together singers from across the island to perform challenging choral works which require a consort of fine voices which were not at that time being attempted by other choirs. The opportunity to sing with a small chamber orchestra was both exciting and refreshing. Since then, the Choir and Orchestra have continued to develop and attain greater achievements and recognition under the direction of its conductors.

In the early days works such as Bach’s Jesu Meine Freude, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit were performed along side well known works such as Handel’s well known motet Zadok the Priest. Opportunities were given to young talented Guernsey musicians to perform alongside experienced adults. Much of this home grown talent went on to pursue professional music careers and have returned as soloists to perform with the choir. In particular, two early members went on to careers in singing: Carys Lane and Jayne Whitaker perform around the world and have each made a number of recordings.

Early performances included a Gala Performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1995 and a performance of the Bach B Minor mass in 2000. In 2001 Alan’s work took him to pastures new but the opportune return to Guernsey in 2001 of one of its most talented musicians, Stephen Le Prevost, ensured that the choir continued to receive a musical direction upholding the English choral tradition. Stephen expanded the repertoire and took the choir on to further success with performances of Handel’s Dixit Dominus and the Coronation Anthems alongside other works not previously thought to have been performed in Guernsey such as a Magnificat by CPE Bach. The Choir's repertoire expanded further with a number of challenging short works and Christmas carols in eight or more parts.

Stephen left Guernsey for the UK in 2005 and James Henderson directed the choir for a time until a permanent director could be found. Helen Grand was invited to take up the conductor’s baton in 2006. With her wealth of professional experience as both singer and conductor, Helen has brought exciting new repertoire to Guernsey and the choir are looking forward to performing a number of challenging new works at their summer concert including the Serenade to Music by Vaughan-Williams which includes short solos for each choir member. Helen and the choir were delighted to welcome Jayne Whitaker back to Guernsey to perform with them in celebration of their 25th year.

As ever the choir does not restrict the range of music they perform to one particular era. The catalogue of music includes items from the renaissance period through to 20th century works. This enthusiasm for our choral heritage has also been communicated to audiences in several nearby French cities, including, Rennes, St Malo, Dinard and Dinan. In 2009 the choir has been invited to take part in the International Festival of Sacred Music in St Malo Cathedral.

The Choir had long cherished the desire to present the St Matthew Passion of JS Bach in a performance that more closely follows the practice of the 18th century, and were delighted to present this great work in April 2009; further information is available on a separate page.

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