Loughborough had a Male Voice Choir during the early years of the 20th century. Just when this choir was formed is uncertain but its existence is evidenced by the inscription on a Carillon Bell housed in The Memorial Tower in Queen’s Park. At some point this earlier Male Voice Choir ceased performing and it wasn’t until 1967 that the Choir was reformed by George Towers under the musical direction of his wife Dorothy. George assumed the role of accompanist. This was reversed within the first year when George took up the baton with Dorothy accompanying. The fledgling choir, which was mostly made up of men from Baxter Gate Church, seemed at first to offer little promise but within a few months experienced singers from the surrounding area found their way to Baxter Gate. Since that time it has grown to become the Official Male Voice Choir of Loughborough. In 1981, after 14 years of successfully leading the choir, George Towers laid down the conductor’s baton and was succeeded by his deputy Mr David Necklen. However, George continued his association with the choir not only as its President but also as accompanist and singer. He remained active in his support of the choir until his death, at the age of 94, in 2008The Choir has a long and successful history of singing and performing during this time giving concerts throughout the country and participating in choir competitions and festivals where they enjoyed considerable success. In 1978, 1981 and again in 1983 the choir appeared at the Royal Albert Hall as part of a 1,000 strong English Male Voice Choir. In 1984, Mr Paul Blakemore took over from David Necklen. Paul led the choir on a visit to Schwasbisch Hall, Germany in 1992 and the summer of 1993 saw the choir in Belgium, once again with Paul Blakemore at the helm, where they sang in the Abbeyof Gembloux and later a performance was given in Brussels at the European Parliament; Mr Lyndon Gardner, standing in for Paul Blakemore on this occasion. Due to other musical commitments Paul Blakemore stepped down as Musical Director of the choir in 1998. To date Paul has the distinction of being the longest serving conductor in the choir’s history and in later year he returned to the choir to sing as a baritone. He was replaced as Musical Director, albeit briefly when David Necklen once again returned to the choir. However David gave up the position in late 1999. The turn of the millennium brought problems and the choir might have disbanded due to the lack of a musical director if Mrs Marie Slater had not offered her services in this capacity. Marie went on to conduct the choir for a further 6 years before having to resign due to ill health.In more recent years the Choir once again entered the competition arena and won the W.H. Russell Shield at the 2012 Leicester Festival of Music and Performing Arts under the baton of Christopher Hill their current Musical Director. Chris is a very accomplished musician who joined the choir as a singer; so when Marie Slater resigned he modestly agreed to take the choir on until someone better could be found; the choir is still looking. Chris has worked hard to increase their already large repertoire that ranges from 16th century polyphony to 21st century popular music. Throughout the first 43 years of its existence the choir rehearsed at Baxter Gate Church but this long association came to an end in 2010 when the choir moved to their present location at Trinity Methodist Church on Royland Road. From the outset the Loughborough Male Voice Choir has worked with and supported many local charities. The present choir continues to raise money for charities such a Loros, Rainbows, Air Ambulance and many others, by giving charity concerts. Largely due to these efforts the choir gained charity status itself in 2016. To celebrate their 50th anniversary the Choir will once again travel to Belgium where we will perform a series of concerts in and around Gembloux and Rixensart. Along with our regular commitments other events will take place to commemorate the jubilee year. These will include a Gala Concert which will take place at Loughborough Grammar School’s Hodson Hall and a celebration dinner at Quorn Grange.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF LOUGHBOROUGH MALE VOICE CHOIRresearched and compiled byDavid Weston