Chapel-en-le-Frith choir’s ruby anniversary

Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir. Photo contributed.
Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir. Photo contributed.

Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir have been making music and entertaining audiences across the High Peak and beyond for 40 years.

The singers first came together in 1974, after The Advertiser published an article about the launch of a choir appealing “ladies who like a night out and a jolly get-together”.

This invitation proved irresistible and would-be singers crowded into a preliminary meeting at the Roebuck Inn, on Market Place on July 15, and regular practices began that September.

Since then the choir has toured in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium; been twinned with the Schwalheim Choir from twin town Bad Nauheim; forged links with choirs in Wales and Sheffield; and sung at the Menin Gate, Liverpool Cathedral and Chatsworth House, as well as in local venues that range from community halls and churches to care homes and marquees.

Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir has developed a distinctive voice and sense of identity.

There are around 45 singers, directed by composer and conductor Dorian Kelly with the help of accompanist Jane Simmons. They are plans to record some of their most popular songs on a CD, but the highlight of the season will be their sparkling ruby anniversary concert in Chapel-en-le-Frith Methodist Church, on Market Street, on May 17.

The concert celebrates 40 years of making music in the High Peak, combining themes from the past and present.

Four special guests, who have each helped shape the choir over the years, will be taking part.

Norma Clough, a leading Buxton soprano and the choir’s musical director from 1977 to 2004, will conduct two of her favourite items.

At the piano for these pieces will be Alison Wheeldon, who was the choir’s accompanist throughout most of Norma’s 27 years with the choir.

There will be solos from soprano Lucy Myers, who took over from Norma in 2004 and from Alison Bletcher, a professional musician who stood in as interim conductor for two terms before handing over to Dorian in 2011.

The choir will be singing favourite pieces from different eras and continents, and also two special compositions which Dorian has created for the anniversary.

These two songs, Carillon and Wingbeat of Time, use echoing melodies in three parts to haunting effect, with lyrics from poems written by choir member Judy Brown.

The ladies will also be singing with Tideswell Male Voice Choir at St John the Baptist Church, on Commercial Street, in Tideswell, on June 27, and raising money for Daniel’s Light at Whaley Bridge Uniting Church, on Buxton Road, on July 26.

Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir is a registered charity and is funded by a combination of subscriptions from members and friends of the choir, donations, grants and the proceeds of concerts.

The choir always welcomes new members. There are no auditions, and you don’t need to be able to read music, just be willing to listen and join in.

Rehearsals take place at Chapel Town Hall, on Market Street, on Monday evenings from 7.45pm to 9.45pm.

For more information or to book the choir, visit the website at, their Facebook page or call the secretary Margaret Cooper on 01298 814015.

For more information on becoming a friend of the choir, contact Margaret Brignell on 01298 871893.