After nearly a hundred years, Twickenham Choral Society is on the move
Founded in 1921 as the Twickenham Musical Society, we moved to our current venue in Clifden Road, Twickenham, in 1922. At the time, the building was a high-achieving girls’ school, the Twickenham County School for Girls (TCS). We still rehearse in its wood-panelled assembly hall. Many of us have spent the odd idle moment gazing at the gold lettering on the walls depicting the A level and Oxbridge achievements of former pupils of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, wondering where they are now and whether they too sing.
Over the years, we have seen many changes. In the 1970s, we changed our name to the Twickenham Choral Society (also TCS) and a few years later, the school buildings became part of the Richmond Adult College, now the RACC. Yet the hall has remained, little changed since the 1960s and still sporting the emblem of the long-gone Middlesex County Council. Its silent lists of gold-lettered names have stood witness to thousands of weekly rehearsals covering a vast repertoire of works.
In the best traditions of that other, earlier TCS, we have risen to many challenges, spurred on by our Conductor, Christopher Herrick, who has inspired us to achieve more than we thought possible. During forty years under his leadership we have not only navigated the complexities of two great sixteenth century 40-part motets, Tallis’s Spem in Alium and Striggio’s Ecce Beatem Lucem but also mastered major works of every century thereafter. Music that we sang first for our silent audience of gold-lettered girls has been taken not only to local venues but also further afield to prestigious concert halls such as St Martin-in-the-Fields, St John’s Smith Square and the Royal Albert Hall as well as Westminster Abbey, Guildford, Ely and Lichfield Cathedrals.
As we approached the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it was fitting that our recent overseas tour began at Ypres where we sang a beautiful composition written for the choir by Iain Farrington (a former Assistant Conductor), An Old Belief, the last part of which we sang at a very moving ceremony of the last post at the Menem Gate. Later this year on 13 December in the Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington, we will be performing again another brilliant composition, written for our choir in 2009 by Iain Farrington, The Burning Heavens, a setting of seven First World War poems by Siegfried Sassoon.
This time however, our rehearsals will not be sung to the panelled walls of that other TCS. As the RACC is closing the Clifden Centre, we are moving, although just a short distance away, to another girls’ school, St Catherine’s in Cross Deep. Founded in 1914, the school is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. Although we are sad to leave Clifden after so many years, we are delighted to be able to come to St Catherine’s School during its centenary celebrations and we look forward to our next hundred years of music-making.