The Alphington Choral Society

The Society

The Alphington Choral Society was formed from the original WI Choir in just eight short months.

A record from a local newspaper stated: 'a flourishing choral society must fulfil two conditions, its members must enjoy singing and the audience must enjoy hearing them and at the time where there is so much good music that can be found on the wireless it is no small task for a choral society to reach the high standard which its listeners will expect of it. Much depends on the conductor and it is here that Alphington can boast its advantage'. Another newspaper reported on the special performance to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Westminster Abbey on 12th May 1937, 'One had only to hear the chorus singing "Here's a health unto his Majesty" to be sure that they themselves enoyed it and the enjoyment of their audience heightened to admiration as they sang the "Hallelujah Chorus". Their expressive singing showed how well Miss Jaco had trained them while the excellence of their attack showed the confidence they had in her conducting. Both Miss Jaco and the Society are to be congratulated on the performance, which show not only what had been achieved in the past but also what can be confidently looked for in the future'.

The Coronation Special Performance

Miss Jaco arranged a programme of entirely English music and traditional English dances to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The performance was held at Alphington on the evening of Thursday 13th May 1937. The Alphington Choral Society and a string orchestra opened the performance with Edward Elgar's 'National Anthem', the solo part was sung by Miss Mary Hamlin. The 'Coronation Anthem' followed and then 'Zadok the Priest' by Handel and both the choir and orchestra responded with enthusiasm to the demands of the conductor Miss Jaco. Next the members of the Devon Branch of the English Folk Dance and Song Society under the direction of Mrs J. R. Grant gave exhibitions of country dances, namely, 'Chelsea Reach', 'Shrewsbury Lasses' and 'The Norfolk Long Dance'. They also danced the 'Morris Jig'. Miss Mary Hamlin performed once more singing 'Hark! the echoing air' (The Fairy Queen) by Purcell and 'Thou God most High!' (Belshazzar) by Handel.

The Alphington Choral Society followed with 'Here's a health unto His Majesty' a melody by Jeremiah Savile composed in 1651. They then sang 'Fairest Isle' by Purcell. This was followed by the orchestra performance of the 'Water Music Suite' by Handel followed by Miss Mary Hamlin singing the 'Cuckoo Song' by Roger Quilter and finishing with 'There's Land' by Allitsen.

The Country Folk Dance Team performed the 'Massed Jig', a Country Dance 'The Yorkshire Square Dance' and completed their performance with 'The Kentucky Running Set'. The ladies section of the Choral Scoiety followed this by singing 'The Trees in England' by Charles Wood and then 'Gold Crown and Green Crown' by Harry Farjeon. The gentlemen's section of the Choral Scoiety followed with a rendition of 'The British Grenadiers'. The festival closed with the 'Hallelujah Chorus' from Handel's Messiah performed by the full Choral Society.

The audience was then asked to join in with 'God Save the King'. The festival was described as 'altogether a very delightful evening'.


Souvenir Programme of Festival to commemorate
the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Photograph Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

The performers

Soloist: Miss Mary Hamlin.
Sopranos: Mrs Coles; Miss Edwards; Mrs Fortune; Miss Fortune; Mrs Foulkes; Miss Fryer; Miss W. Fryer; Mrs Garnsworthy; Mrs Miller; Mrs Mitchell; Mrs Parkhouse; Miss Parkes; Mrs Parsons; Mrs Patterson; Mrs Pedlar; Miss Perkins; Miss Pike; Mrs Rickard; Miss Sampson; Mrs Seward; Mrs Skinner; Miss Skinner; Miss Wright.
Altos: Mrs Cornwell; Mrs Croucher; Mrs Hill; Mrs Jago; Mrs McGain; Miss Pickard; Mrs Pike; Mrs Pill; Mrs Spencer; Miss Stockman.
Tenors: Mr Bowden; Mr Browning; Mr Holmes; Mr James; Mr Parsons; Mr Pill; Mr Rickard; Mr G. Rickard.
Basses: Mr Brewer; Mr Edwards; Mr Franklin; Mr McGain; Mr Mitchell; Mr H. P. Rickard; Mr Romero; Mr Sharpe; Mr Williams; The Rev F. D. Vaughan.
Boy Choristers: W. P. Cornwell; P. Fortune; D. W. Garnsworthy; H. Pike; D. E. Pill; F. Seward; W. Seward.
The Orchestra
First Violing: Mrs Maurice Mathew; Mrs Broadwood; Miss Rogers. Second Violin: Miss Garnon, Mr J. Lloyd. Viola: Miss Sugars; Mr Stowell. Cello: Miss M. K. Martin; Miss Chichester; Miss Ashe. Drums: Mr M. Radford. Piano: Mr J. N. Hind; Mr Warren Green.
Conductor Miss Marjorie Jaco.
Members of the Devon Branch of The English Folk Dance and Song Society (under the direction of Mrs J. R. Grant):
Miss Barnaby; Miss Britton; Mrs Leaker; Miss Lowe; Mrs J. R. Grant; Mr Buckland; Mr Edmunds; Mr J. R. Grant; Mr Heggadon; Mr Leaker.

The Alphington Music Festival of 1939

I have kept many of the words used in the records/reports of the time to keep the atmosphere of 1939.

This festival took place on the evenings of Tuesday 9th May and Wednesday 10th May 1939. A local newspaper journalist reported that even though Alphington was described as a roadside village folk from a wide area were drawn to this festival. The event was an interpretation of music equal to the best that London can offer. The enterprise fell on the shoulders of Mrs Foulkes, hon. secretary, impresario, business manager and chorister; also Miss Jaco an inspired and inspiring conductor and arranger of programmes.

The festival had to be held in the village as it was called the Alphington Music Festival but the village hall as a venue was out of the question. Prebendary Bennett, a consistent supporter lent them the pasture that adjoined the vicarage where a very spacious marquee that measured 100ft x 50ft was erected. The marquee was described as being cosily furnished with settees and chairs and also carpeted, all supplied by Messrs C. Werring. The marquee was admirably lighted and well warmed, The Exeter Gaslight & Coke Company being responsible for this. There were dressing rooms for the artists and buffet tents for refreshments. The catering was provided by Messrs Hill, Palmer and Edwards, an Exeter bakery.

It was reported that the canvas marquee roof allowed one to hear the music with intimacy and not the chill formality, which the concert hall spreads. Tickets for the festival were available from Mrs Foulkes or bookings were taken at Messrs Moons and Messrs Eland's, Exeter shops.

Joining the Alphington Choral Society were the Paignton Male Voice Choir and members from the London Symphony Orchestra, this was the first time that this orchestra had played at Alphington. The leader was Mr W. H. Reed MVO one of the most celebrated orchestral leaders of his day, Miss Marjorie Jaco was the conductor. One morning before the festival Mr John Hunt, the solo pianist, had been seen rehearsing Beethoven in his shirt-sleeves with cows grazing contentedly and unconcerned nearby.


Programme for the Third Annual Alphington Music Festival
Photograph Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

The performances on the first day of the festival included 'The Canterbury Pilgrims' by Dr George Dyson, which occupied the first half of the concert and this was the first time it had been played in Devon. It was reported that the soloists Mr Roy Henderson baritone (The Monk) and Miss Isobel Baillie (The Wife of Bath) sang their parts with great charm.

The gentlemen from the Alphington Choral Society joined with the Paignton Male Voice Choir to perform 'Stanford's Songs of the Fleet'. It was said that the choirs had difficult music to sing but nevertheless it was a most enjoyable performance. Mr Henderson showed he was a master of humour and vigorous expressions and also he had a cantabile tone of great beauty and expressivesness.

Part One of Handel's 'Aeis and Galatea' was purely orchestral playing. A newspaper report said that Miss Jaco had a clear precise beat and obtained a fine performance from the players.

The last chorus 'Happy We' was sang with real spirit and it made a fine ending to the evening.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 10th May Mrs Foulkes and Miss Jaco were at home to a large number of friends, reported as being over 100 in the vicarage grounds. The grounds themselves were described as most beautiful with Chestnut trees, Firs and Wild Hyacinths.

That evening's performance began with the 'Overture in D' by Haydn. Miss Isabel Baillie beguiled all with two airs from Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro'.

It was reported at the time that Mr Hunt was the centrepiece of the second day of the festival. He played Beethoven's Fourth Pianoforte 'The Emperor'. He was described as a young pianist who could make the piano sing. Trills tripped off in cascades of tone and proved the beauty of slow movement with a coaxing hand. It was also said about this part of the evening's performances that the balance between the soloist. Mr Hunt and the London Symphony Orchestra were one of the main features of the performance. There was a lively attack by the strings led by Mr W. H. Reed and the woodwind gave a neat finished work.

After an interval of 10 minutes Miss Isobel Baillie sang 'Where Shall the Lover Rest' by Parry, 'Spring' by Parry and 'Ecstasy' by Rummel. John Hunt followed with three further performances this time by Brahm's 'Intermezzo in E Major', 'Intermezzo in C Major' and 'Rhapsody in G Minor'.

Mr W. H Reed, solo violinist, in the finale bewitched the audience with the warm beauty of his violin in 'The Lark Ascending' by Vaughan Williams.

It was reported that much of the success of the festival was down to the conducting and guidance of Miss Jaco. The works unfolded naturally and Miss Jaco never forced it with false dynamics.

At the end of the festival Mr Reed made a striking tribute to Miss Jaco, quite simply he thought she was a genius. He presented her with two Rockingham plates on behalf of the Alphington Choral Society and Paignton Male Voice Choir. Miss Jaco presented Mr Reed with a Georgian Silver Ashtray and said 'This little gift is just a token of our appreciation of your kindness in coming down here and for the help and inspiration you have given us by leading the orchestra so splendidly'. Miss Isobel Baillie gave a tribute to the work of the chorus and the conductor. She is reported to have said that The Canterbury Pilgrims is a most difficult work for professionals and as amateurs you all must have put an enormous amont of time in your rehearsing.

I am not sure if these dress descriptions were for the first or second evening performance, it may well have been for both. Miss Jaco wore an enormously full-skirted frock of rustling floral taffeta, which was strikingly patterned in cyclamen, yellow, grey and black. It had a tightly ruched bodice, which was cut down to a V in the front and at the back. There were long clinging sleeves and the gauged fullness gathered into butterfly wings of the material at the shoulders. A piped sash made from the material outlined the waist. She wore an antique French paste brooch, which was a gift from the gentlemen's section of the chorus.

Miss Isobel Baillie's frock was made of parchment gold and brown jacquered satin with a very full skirt. This flowed down from a high Empire waistline and formed a fluted bustle and a long graceful train. It had wide shoulder straps of sapphire blue ribbon and she wore open worked satin shoes that echoed the tone of this blue.

Mrs Foulkes wore a frock of pearl grey moire taffeta with a cluster of flowers shaded in blue and fuchsia trimming the neckline.

Members of the Alphington Choral Society and Paignton Male Voice Choir performing were
Mesdames Coles, Foulkes, Garnsworthy, Mitchell, Parkhouse, Read, Rickard, Robson, Welsman, Wrightman. Misses Anton, Burman, Comer, P. Cornwell, Edwards, Foulkes, J. Foulkes, Fryer, W. Fryer, D. W. Garnsworthy, George, Kay, Kent, Lamaeraft, Lawney, Leek, Parkes, Perkins, Pike, D. E. Pill, Salmon and White (Sopranos).
Mesdames: Graham, Bennetts, Cornwell, Hill, Hoskings, Hoskins, Pill, Turner and Wawn. Misses Gadie, Pickard, Poole, Salmon, Stockman and Tuwill (Altos).
Messrs Blackwell, Beer, Behenna, Bradford, Browning, Butt, Cartledge, Darke, Dymond, Edwards, Edworthy, Harris, Hayward, Heddrell, Herd, James, Lake, Lilley, Napper, Pill, Pugsley, Rickard, G. Rickard, Robins, Rolson, Rowell, Seward, Toms (tenors).
Messrs Atkinson, Bath, Brewer, Foster, Garnsworthy, Hedges, Lidgey, Maddock, Michelmore, A. Mitchell, R. Mitchell, Murch, Pitman, Reed, H. P. Rickard, Romero, Rowell, Stockman, Taylor, Thomas, Truscott, Underhay, Widdicombe and Williams (Basses).
Members of the Orchestra on both days were Mr W. H. Reed MVO (principal). Mesdames Gill, Maurice, Mathew, Gunn, Rosenberg, Vincent, Campbell. Misses Rogers, Gunyon, Howe, May, Bartlett, Page and Wells. Messrs S. Evans, Max Gilbert, Eland, Cedric Sharpe, W. C. Wood, Noel Alder, Gordon Walker, Bartlett, J. McCarthy, G. Anderson, G. Parker, Paul Draper, R. P. Wood, A. Hyde, W. Burdett, J. Cousins, Dale, W. J. Green, Smith, Hugh Fenn.
Hon. Conductor Miss Majorie Jaco.

The Fourth Annual Alphington Music Festival

This took place on 7th and 8th May 1940 at 7:30 pm. The solists were Noel Eadie, John Fullard, Keith Falkner and John Hunt. Members of the London Symphony Orchestra took part and beside the Alphington Choral Society, there were the Paignton Male Voice Choir and the Lympstone Choral Society. The conductor was Marjorie Jaco. The following works were included in the programme: 7th May: 'Overture Cockaigne' by Elgard; 'Variations on a theme of Haydn' by Brahms; 'Choral Fantasia' by Beethoven; 'Symphony in E [flat?] ' by Mozart; 'Blest Pair of Sirens' by Parry. 8th May: 'Spring' ('The Seasons') by Haydn; 'Odysseus' by C. Armstrong Gibbs.


Programme for the Fourth Annual Alphington Music Festival
Photograph Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick


Programme for the Concert in aid of the Red Cross and Order of St John
Photograph Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

Concert in Alphington Parish Church

The Alphington Choral Society held a concert in aid of the Red Cross and Order of St John on Monday 17th July 1945 starting at 7:30 pm. The programme consisted of the folowing pieces and performers: Organ, 'Pastorale Sonata No. 12' by Rheinberger performed by Mr A. G. Chanter; Cornet, 'Londonderry Air' performed by Master F. Huxham; Song, 'Beyond the Dawn' by Sanderson performed by Miss E. Ingram; Violin, 'Second Romance' by Tours performed by Mrs G. Stowells; Song, 'Angels Guard Thee' by Godard performed by Mr W. J. Belgrove; Organ, 'Romanze' by Merkel performed by Mr A. G. Chanter; a hymn followed and then a collection. The concert continued with song, 'The Holy City' by Adams performed by Master D. Conway accompanied by Miss M. Sanders; Cornet, 'Trumpet Voluntary (Purcell) by Clark performed by Master F. Huxham; Song, 'Homing' by de Riego performed by Miss E. Ingram; Violin, 'Chanson de Matin' by Elgar, 'Meditation' by Bach-Gounod both performed by Mrs G. Stowells; Song, 'A Song of Freedom' (Psalm 124) by Stanford performed by Mr W. J. Belgrove; Organ, 'Final Movements Sonata No. 1' by Mendelssohn performed by Mr A. G. Chanter. The concert finished with 'God Save the King'.

Other Concerts the Choral Society held or attended

1937
Concert on Tuesday 19th January 1937 at 7:30 pm.
Entered the Devon Music Competitions on Wednesday 10th March 1937.
Concert in aid of The Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital Special Appeal 30th November 1937.
1938
Concert in aid of Exeter and District Branch of St. John's Ambulance Association on 10th May 1938.
Concert on 29th November 1938.
1939
Took part in the University College of The South West, The Welsh Society Social Evening on St. David's Day 1st March 1939 from 7 pm until 10:30 pm.
1940
Handel's Messiah at St. Michael's Church, Mount Dinham, Exeter on 28th/29th February 1940.
Choral and Orchestral Concert Tuesday 4th June 1940.
Choral Festival at the Maynard School Hall Exeter. Organised by Miss Majorie Jaco (reported upon in a local newspaper on 22nd July 1940). Award for best singing of the day was won by The Alphington Choral Society and the Exeter Thursday Evening Choir.
1941
Concert on 8th November 1941 in aid of The War Organisation of The British Red Cross Society and The Order of St John of Jerusalem.
1942
Concert at St. Michael's Church, Mount Dinham, Exeter on 26th March 1942 at 7 pm.
Hymn of Praise Mendelssohn on Friday 17th July 1942 at 7 pm with the Christow Choral Society at St Michael's Church, Mount Dinham, Exeter.
Programme of Music including For the Fallen by Elgar at St. Michael's Church, Mount Dinham, Exeter on Saturday 31st October 1942 at 3 pm.
1943
Took part in the following Choral Festival Concerts on 5th June 1943 at 6:30 pm. 27th June at 6:30 pm. and 29th July at 6:30 pm.
Messiah at St. David's Church, Exeter on Saturday 18th December 1943 at 2;45 pm with the Ottery St Mary Choral Society.
1944
Concert in aid of The Duke of Gloucester's Red Cross and St John Joint Appeal on 22nd January 1944.
Took part in the County Committee for Music and Drama Choral Festival Concert on 25th November 1944 at 7:30 pm.
1945
Judas Maccabaeus at St. Michael's Church, Exeter on Tuesday 11th December 1945 with the Ottery St Mary Choral Society.
1946
St Matthew Passion by Bach at St. Michael's Church, Mount Dinha, Exeter on Tuesday 9th April 1946 at 7 pm with the Ottery St Mary Choral Society.
Handel's Messiah at St. Matthew's Church, Exeter on Good Friday 19th April 1946 at 7:30 pm.
No Record of the Year
Messiah at St Matthew's Church, Exeter on 3rd April.
Messiah at St. Michael's Church, Mount Dinham, Exeter on 3rd May at 6:30 pm.


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