The St Helens Singers is a mixed choir of approximately 25 members who perform regularly in and around St Helens. The group has undergone many transformations over the years and in 2016 celebrated its 90th anniversary.
Back in July 1926, two local men were lamenting the demise of the local Catholic Choral Society when the idea came to them: ‘Why not form an Operatic Society?’ Thus they contacted various members of the original Catholic Choral Society arranged a rehearsal venue and date, and awaited the outcome eagerly. At the first meeting eight people turned up; the following week, numbers grew to ten, and increased steadily thereafter.
The first production was ‘The Lily of Killarney’ in 1927. This was such a success that the Society staged another production the following year and continued until the outbreak of the Second World War. Many of the productions were Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, and costumes were all made ‘in-house’.
After the war, the Society hit a bad patch and it was only thanks to the donations from members that the Society was able to continue with its productions. 1949 saw the staging of ‘HMS Pinafore’ at the Pilkington Theatre – this was a great success and the popularity of the Society grew again. In 1964, following the closure of the Pilkington Theatre, the Society moved to the Theatre Royal in the town centre.
Productions continued annually (sometimes two productions a year) until 2011, the last operetta being ‘The Gondoliers’. After this production, it was decided that the Society needed a new direction, due to falling attendances at the shows and the ever-increasing cost. We joined forces with other local singing groups to stage joint concerts, including a semi-staged version of ‘Trial by Jury’. In 2014 a major recruitment drive was launched and the Society changed its name to ‘The St Helens Singers’, with the emphasis on singing in four-part harmony.
Our current repertoire does include some Gilbert & Sullivan as a reminder of our roots, but we also include swing, country, African music (guaranteed to get the toes tapping!), religious pieces and songs from West End shows; there is something for everyone. 2016 also saw special commemorations of the First World War. Many of our concerts raise money for charity, particularly those with a local connection.
As part of our 90th birthday celebrations we had a get-together in July 2016 at the home of our then Chairman, Magdalen Scott. This was an ideal opportunity for current and former members to meet and reminisce over a glass or two. A number of our members have been singing with us for over 30 years (some for over 50!) and it was good to hear their stories from years gone by.
We pride ourselves on being a very welcoming and friendly group. We are always keen to have new members and would welcome enquiries from anyone who may wish to join us. Rehearsals are on Monday evenings from 7.30 – 9.45pm at the Baptist Church in Hall St, St Helens.
We are currently rehearsing for a concert at St Julie’s Church Hall, Eccleston on Saturday 19th October. There is also a Carol concert planned for Saturday 14th December in Rainford and a Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at St Thomas of Canterbury, Windleshaw, St Helens.
For further details on this concert, and membership enquiries, please contact our Secretary, Mrs. Marie Holden, on 01744612485 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chairman – Mr. Vincent Brennan
Secretary – Mrs. Marie Holden
Treasurer – Mr. Antony Moran
Publicity Secretary - Miss Helen Tierney
General Committee – Mrs. Irene Dillon, Mrs. Magdalen Scott, Mrs. Carole Smith, Mr. Tony Bourke
Musical Director - Mrs Angela Turner
Accompanist - Mr David Norris