The Newport Pagnell Singers were formed in 1962 by a group of ladies who had been members of the Newport Pagnell Choral Societies, which were disbanded in 1960.
Missing the singing and the social occasions, the ladies got together and, led by Mrs Ethel Wesley, organist at the
Costs were kept to a minimum; music was borrowed from local church choirs; concerts were usually held to raise money for charity. Arnold Jones had a wealth of experience as Methodist church organist, Musical Director of the Wolverton Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Musical Director of the Wolverton Light Orchestra. His last concert with the Singers was, Easter, 1967, in the Congregational Church (now the United Reformed Church).
Tony Eaton became the next Musical Director and gave the Singers four years of stability and achievement. He handed over the baton to Rev Geoffrey Russell in 1972. Rev Geoffrey Russell, Vicar of New Bradwell, then handed over to Richard Lambert, who was a teacher at
In 1974 Ian Smith, an accomplished violinist, became Musical Director, introducing small orchestras to the Singers’ concerts. He produced a concert version of Merrie England with soloists drawn from the Singers. Ian Smith resigned in 1977 to become Musical Director of the Danesborough Chorus. Ian’s last concert included Zadok the Priest and Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Edwin Lack joined Mrs Wesley as accompanist at a Victorian Evening Concert. A brilliant musician Edwin had returned to his native Newport Pagnell from teaching in Leeds and joined the staff at
Edwin gave the Singers a new role, taking live entertainment to the villages, helping them make money for their church and hall funds. These villages included Sherington,
Sadly, Ethel Wesley, who had acted as Accompanist and Treasurer throughout the years, was taken seriously ill and died in May 1986 at the age of 69. Edwin took over as Accompanist and Musical Director, nearly always bringing his elderly mother to practices and concerts. She would invariably doze through the concert and earned the title of ‘sleeping partner’. Sadly, Edwin died of a heart attack in December 1997. His mother, Ethel, died three weeks later. A performance of the Messiah, with professional soloists, was held in memory of Edwin early in 1998.
Dr Gerald Hill became Musical Director and instilled a discipline into the Singers which had slipped under Edwin’s dual role as Accompanist and Musical Director. Gerald was instrumental in extending the Singers repertoire by arranging music and using his wide musical experience to obtain music that was within the capabilities of a small choir.
In 2000 we gave the first performance of a completely new work, Requiem 2000, composed by the Musical Director, Gerald Hill. In 2002 we gave a rendition of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with guest soloist Andrew Bell taking the tenor solo.
In 2004 we repeated the theme of Red Indian music with a short piece called The Snowbird by Pat Thayer and contrasted it with Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Richard Heyes became Musical Director in 2003, although he had been our Accompanist from 1997, (assisted by Sam Moore and Sarah Caudle). Richard has introduced some more ‘popular’ styles of music to the choir such as pieces by Abba and Paul Simon, along with other more serious music eg excerpts from St Cecilia’s Mass, by Gounod. He was ably assisted by a brilliant young accompanist, Ed Tomlinson. Not only can Ed sight read anything he's also brilliant on the Clarinet, Saxonphone and Organ.
In 2011, due to illness Richard stepped down as Musical Director. Richard has maintained close links with the Singers becoming our Associate Conductor/Accompanist.
Over the years the Singers have practised in all sorts of venues, church vestries and halls, stable blocks and schools. We now practice at the United Reformed Church, Newport Pagnell.
The repertoire of the Newport Pagnell Singers is very diverse from oratorios, masses and other church music to serious secular and Gilbert & Sullivan with a mixture of modern light music.
Recent concerts have included The Snowbird, excerpts from Messiah, The Creation, St Cecilia Mass, When I’m Sixty-four, Streets of
The Newport Pagnell Singers must have some charm as there are still a handful of members who were there at the start of choir. We currently have over 50 choir members. We do not ask you to audition when you join unless you wish to perform a solo at a concert. All we ask is that you have an ability to sing and hold a tune, an interest and, hopefully lots of enthusiasm in singing. We are a friendly society which still enjoys a social side and each year we have a social evening.
Roger Windmill took over as Musical Director in 2011. The Singers are moving forward with their repertoire, tackling Hiawatha's Wedding Feast and looking forward to the future.
This year (2012) we are celebrating our 50th anniversary. Every concert we give will be an extra special one! The year started with a concert that spanned 400 years of music - Baroque to Rock, a hugely successful and enjoyable evening.
Our next concert is booked for 23 June, at Lovat Hall. Sizzling Summer Serenade, light summer music. We are to be joined by the Fenny Stompers Jazz Band. This concert we will be raising money for Friends of Willen Hospice and Air Ambulance, Berks, Oxon and Bucks.
Following on from the June concert will be our Gala at the Chrysalis Theatre in Willen where we will be joined by Andante for an evening of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Jenkins.
The Christmas concert, 15 December at Newport Pagnell Parish Church, sees us once again joining with a brass band, this time Olney Brass, for a traditional concert - something for everyone!