21st Birthday Season - read all about it!

27/11/2012 16:36


The season 2000 - 2001 has been one of the busiest and most exciting in the Chorale's history.

To start at the end, we finished off the season by celebrating our 21st Birthday in two ways. Firstly there was a celebratory concert at the Royal Northern College of Music (venue of the inaugural concert in December 1979) on Saturday 30th June. Secondly, the following weekend saw a Dinner Dance and singing day for members past and present at the Palace Hotel, Manchester.


Although many former members were contacted about these events there were others whom we have not yet been able to trace. If you are a former member, or know somebody who is, please contact us via our online contact form


We will doubtless have reunion events in the future and would love to hear from as many former members as possible.


Lesley Cavanagh (neé Kirkpatrick) is one of only 2 founder members still with the Chorale with unbroken service (Pat Jones is the other) and for the programme for our RNCM concert she contributed the following reminiscences:

"  From the moment in my audition that Jeff muttered to BBC Producer Vivian Bacon "mm, useful if we're short of tenors", I thought "this is going to be interesting". During my 21 years in the second altos, it has never been less than that and at times, spectacular.

The repertoire in those early days was very much Radio 2 'easy listening' style, often performing with a jazz trio, which appealed to audiences for our regular broadcasts on local radio. Over the years the repertoire has widened, now including opera choruses (e.g. supporting Pavarotti and Carreras), large scale works with orchestras in huge venues and audiences to match, and premieres of new works where audiences are sometimes scarce. All of our concerts have been experiences I have mostly enjoyed and wouldn't have missed for the world.

I am fortunate enough to have been on all of the Chorale's trips abroad - to France (3 times), Norway, Germany & Ireland. Every tour has its own memories. Here are a few of mine:

· Following the Germany trip in 1988 my husband Ged, who joined Chorale the year after me, proposed. In fact there were 3 Chorale weddings that year. Maybe the German wine ..?

· Two days before the Paris trip in 1994, our son (then aged 3) scratched the retina of my eye. So I toured Paris with a patch on! Nevertheless, singing for the Mass in Notre Dame for 3,500 people was a very moving occasion.
· Back in 1982 in Angouleme (Bury's twin town) we stayed in school-type dormitories and I remember clearly the mixed choir rendition of 'Lily of the Valley', sung in the showers. The dividing wall didn't reach the ceiling - what a marvellous sound we made!
· On that same trip, our hosts arranged a BBQ in a barn in the middle of nowhere. The wine and almost-cooked meat flowed freely when who should turn up but two Gendarmes. We sang to them, so they were happy to drink wine and pose for photos before resuming their duties - a murder hunt!
· In Norway, we met composer Knut Nystedt, whose Sanctus we were about to perform in a radio broadcast. The next day in Oslo University the sun suddenly beamed through stained glass windows as we sang 'The Northern Lights' - magical!

Events nearer home bring back equally vivid memories.
Last year teams of 16 Chorale members sang with Michael Crawford to packed arenas and theatres up and down the country. Michael's professionalism and rapport with the audience was an education for us all. It was very entertaining and we even learnt his script from the auto-cue by the end!

The most special memory must of course be of the dozens of marvellous people involved with the Chorale over the years and it is a privilege to call so many of them my friends. Together we have shared countless wonderful musical and social occasions. Our long-suffering families deserve a special thank you. Without their help and support, some of us, certainly Ged and I, would not have been able to continue in the Chorale for as long as we have. .and finally, especially to Jeff, "Thank you for the Music!"


Prior to these celbrations the season opened with our seventh Sainsbury's Choir of the Year campaign, which led not only to the televised semi-final on Boxing Day, but also to inclusion in two editions of Choirworks on Radio 3. This was followed by 3 appearances at the Bridgewater Hall. The first was with Salford tenor Russell Watson. The second, for which we were joined by a number of friends, was the Raymond Gubbay promotion "The Glory of Christmas". Finally, after 3 of the most intense weeks of rehearsal we have ever known, came the world premiere of Peter Ash's opera based on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". A second performance of "Charlie" took place in Preston at the end of February.


On 2nd June we returned to the Bridgewater Hall for a performance of Britten's War Requiem with the RPO, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, before concluding the season at the RNCM and Palace Hotel as above.

Our Musical Director


Jill Henderson-Wild has been with us since 2006.

Her biographical notes are in the People page.

Our Assistant Musical Director

Dave Robinson

See the People page for more details

2024 Concert Dates:


  • 29 June 2024, 7:30pm, at Emmanuel Church, Didsbury 
  • 6 July 2024, 7:30pm, at the church of St Michael and All Angels, Hawkshead
  • 19 October 2024, 3:00pm, at St Margaret's Church, Prestwich
  • 7 December 2024, 3:00pm, at Didsbury Baptist Church
  • 24 December 2024, 3:00pm in the Bridgewater Hall
  • 15 March 2025, 7:30pm, with Bury Youth Big Band at Bury Parish Church
  • 10 May 2025, 7:30pm, with the Master Singers at All Saints Parish Church, Cawthorne
  • 5 July 2025, 7:30pm, at the Bridge Church, Otley
Tickets can be reserved here