The First 70 Years
Guernsey Glee Singers is now the oldest established choir
still in existence in Guernsey. It was founded by Miss A A
Noel in 1927. She started the choir with a handful of girls
who had just left school. Under her direction and training,
several succesful concerts were given locally and the choir
quickly grew to around twenty voices.
July 1929, this ladies' choir competed successfully in the
Bournemouth Music Festival, winning the cup for ladies' choirs
under twenty voices. The cup was won again in 1930 and 1931
against choirs from all over England.
choir included a male section in 1931 and had grown to forty
for concerts at this time show a great variety, with mixed,
male and ladies choirs, as well as solos, duets and small
In March 1936, Miss Noels' ambition to compete in the London
Music Festival was realised and, due to her failing health,
Mr Hedley Nicolle acted a s deputy conductor. The choir won
cups for mixed and ladies choirs and were invited to sing
at the London Choral Festival. Miss Noel continued to conduct
the Guernsey Glee Singers from 1927 until 1936 when, through
ill health, she passed the baton to Mr Hedley Nicolle. Mr
Nicolle left for Malta in 1937 and Rev. Wood was appointed
When war was declared in 1939, the choir closed down until
after the Liberation, when it was restarted in february 1946
by Miss Muriel Luckie, a former choir member. She conducted
their first performance, a recital of part songs, at an official
dinner party for the visit of the Home Secretary, Mr Chuter
After six months Miss Luckie went to Hamburg, and Mr T Davies
Passey, Professor of music at Elizabeth College and a pupil
of Sir Henry Wood, took the baton.
first full concert after the war was at Ebenezer for local
dignitaries and a large audience enthusiastically applauding
the Glees "come back". Under the experience and
inspiring leadership of Mr T Davies Passey, the choir grew
to fifty and many successful concerts were given. Programmes
show ticket prices 3/6d, 2/6d and 1/6d for unreserved seats.
master at Elizabeth College, Mr E W Waddams, took over as
conductor in 1948 was to continu until 1955. Trophies for
madrigals and part songs were won at the Guernsey Eisteddfod
in 1948 and 1949. In March 1950 the Guernsey Glee Singers
gave a concert version of Handel's Village Opera at the Central
Hall. Standards were very high and, in May 1950, the choir
made their first radio broadcast: a half hour programme with
madrigals and solos by Mollie Despointes and Ernest Bichard.
This was followed by the Peasant Cantata by J S Bach in 1953.
Blondel developed this further with concert versions of Carmen
and Faust, followed by Merrie England. These major works were
interspersed with the normal repertoir of solos and choral
Hughes took over as conductor in 1960 and the choir performed
Dido and Aeneasnby Purcell, also adding songs by Gilbert and
Sullivan to their repertoire. Christpher Liddle built on this.
Reginald Le Provost became the conductor in 1966 and, in 1968,
produced a programme of The Mikado and Gounods' Faust. Soloists
at this time were Ernest Bichard, Basil Harwood, Peter Carre,
John Bourget, Hazel Rowe, Coreen Singleton, June Bourget,
=Jill Stephenson, Avril Whittaker and Pam Ingrouille. The
Glees had an excellent group of soloists to carry forward
the ambitious programme that Reginald Le Provost and chairman,
Gerry King, had in mind. The next year a concert version of
The Pirates of Penzance was performed at Candie Gardens.
solists, Janet and Tony Bran, Richard Cann and John Stephenson
joined the cast for the concert version of the Gondoliers
in 1970. Productions were now at the Little Theatre. The choir
was in a pattern which was only to gain in strength presenting
Iolanthe in 1971 with Pauline Carre joining the soloists.
Glees took their special concert versions of The Gondoliers
and HMS Pinafore to the Jersey Opera House in 1974. It was
only a matter of time for the concert versions to be abandoned
and full scale productions of the operas to be performed.
Thus in 1975, Trial by Jury and The Pirates of Penzance were
produced by Jill Stephenson and Gerry King, and performed
at the Little Theatre and the Opera House in Jersey.
Bran took over as conductor in 1976. Trial by Jury and HMS
Pinafore were produced by Ken Fletcher and performed at the
new Beau Sejour theatre. After regular Gilbert and Sullivan
productions, in 1980 it was a big change to present a full
performance of merrie England at the Beau Sejour theatre,
with Crystal James as the May Queen.
the 80's Christmas Concerts were performed at the St. Pierre
Park Hotel (a delightful setting but with poor acoustics),
while other concerts were at Beau Sejour and, where appropriate,
at churches around the Island.
in 1985, St. James became the venue for the choirs main peromances
but these reverted to concert versions with guest soloists,
both vocal and instrumental.
were several changes in conductor until Marilyn Pugh took
up the baton in 1992. Performances of Yeoman of the Guard
in 1997, to celebrate 70 years of the Guernsey Glee Singers,
recreated some of the former glory of full scale productions
and was enjoyed by many.
reputation of the Glees was intact, with the choir, conductor
and accompanist working together for the advancement of the
Guernsey Glee Singers.