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Hereford Choral Society 175th

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1837 Rowland Hill's government discusses the idea of carrying letters in a separate sheet which folded to become an envelope and the idea of "a bit of paper" which could be affixed to a letter to flag that postage had been paid William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone patent the electrical telegraph King William IV dies from heart failure at Windsor Castle Princess Victoria of Kent ascends the throne as Queen Victoria General election results in a Whig victory General Register Office begins the practice of registering births, marriages and deaths Queen Victoria moves into Buckingham Palace, the first monarch to live there The Isambard Kingdom Brunel-designed steamship SS Great Western launched Euston Station, London's first railway station, is opened Lea & Perrins begin making Worcestershire sauce AND … John Hunt founds Hereford Choral Society

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Hereford Choral Society Founded 1837 Taken from CON MOLTO PIACERE (With Great Pleasure), by Aneurin Thomas, written to celebrate 150 years of Hereford Choral Society in 1987. (Photograph courtesy of Dr Derek Foxton, Verdi Requiem, Nov. 2008) The Society was formed in 1837 by Mr John Hunt, the Cathedral Organist, from the Cathedral choir plus the addition of adult male singers, who were not members of the Cathedral choir In 1853, a programme notice read, "It is requested that the audience will abstain from applause or censure." In the early 1880s, Edward Elgar played violin in the orchestra for Hereford Choral Society During his time at Plas Gwyn, not infrequently Elgar used to slip in during the Choral Society's practices In 1901, the Society had 155 members, but more tenors and basses were required to, "balance properly the sopranos and altos…” Dr H Watkins Shaw played the continuo in the Society's performance of Handel's Messiah in March 1950 - eight years prior to editing his definitive edition of the oratorio December 12 1981, since known as "The Freezing Messiah", outside temperatures were -13°C and only -3 ° C inside the Cathedral!

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Hereford Choral Society Founded 1837 Recounted by Ray Boddington, recalling his membership of the society that spanned nearly 60 years (Photograph courtesy of Dr Derek Foxton, Verdi Requiem, Nov. 2008) In the early 1970s, John Gilbert requested that concerts were moved to a Saturday instead of Thursday so that members could attend the afternoon orchestral rehearsal – and so began the tradition that still pertains to this day. At this time the Society didn’t possess any raked staging so it was not unusual for some members of the chorus to have no sight of the conductor It was possible for some members of the chorus to be singing from a position with no view of the conductor, having not rehearsed with the orchestra and where they could not easily be heard ! Plastic-topped tables were borrowed from the canteen at Wiggins Special Metals, which were arranged such that the gentlemen could stand on them during the concert!

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From its inception the Society has always been conducted by the Organist and Director of Music at Hereford Cathedral. John Hunt (1806-1842) Conductor: 1835-1842 John Hunt founded Hereford Choral Society in 1837 Sadly, just five years later he died in a tragic accident after falling over a dinner wagon. Loaded with crockery and glasses, it had been left in a dark corner of the cloisters.

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On taking up his duties to the cathedral in 1843, services were held in All Saints Church until 1850 due to restoration work to the cathedral and it was a further 13 years before it was completed. George Townshend Smith (1813-1877) Conductor :  1843-1877

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Langdon Colborne had previously been organist as St Michael's College, Tenbury between 1860 and 1874. Langdon Colborne (1835-1889) Conductor :  1877-1889

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George Robertson Sinclair (1863-1917) Conductor: 1889-1917 Elgar dedicated his Pomp and Circumstance March No 4 to Sinclair. Variation XI of the Enigma Variations (GRS) depicts Sinclair's bulldog, Dan, jumping into the River Wye. A statue of the dog stands at the spot where this is believed to have happened.

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Percy Clarke Hull (1878-1968) Conductor: 1918-1949 Percy Clarke Hull is the only ex-chorister, other than John Bull (1562-1628), to become cathedral organist. His friend Edward Elgar dedicated the fifth of his Pomp and Circumstance Marches to him and he was knighted in 1947 for his services to music and his work in the revival of the Three Choirs Festival after World War II.

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After his time in Hereford, Meredith Davies conducted the first performance of Britten's War Requiem . Meredith Davies (1922-2005) Conductor :  1950-1956

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Melville Cook (1912-1993) Conductor: 1956-1966 Melville Cook was a former chorister and assistant organist at Gloucester Cathedral.

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Richard Hey Lloyd (1933-) Conductor: 1966-1974 Richard Hey Lloyd subsequently became organist of Durham Cathedral. In 1985 he became the deputy headmaster of Salisbury Cathedral School. Since retiring he has divided his time between examining and composing.

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Roy Massey (1934-) Conductor : 1974-2001 Dr Massey received an MBE in 1997 for services to music. He is believed to be unique in having twice given the opening recital following the rebuilding of the cathedral organ, in 1978 and in 2005.

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Geraint Bowen (2001 – present) On leaving Cambridge Geraint Bowen held posts as assistant organist at St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and Hereford Cathedral. From 1995 to 2001 he was organist and master of the choristers at St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, and artistic director of the St Davids Cathedral Festival. In 2001 he took up the posts of organist and director of music at Hereford Cathedral, conductor of Hereford Choral Society and artistic director of the Hereford Three Choirs Festival.

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