Saint George’s Singers was formed in 1984 by Jonathan Gregory for the express purpose of performing the great choral masterpieces of the Baroque era. It was a choir of about 50 voices, and membership was by invitation. During Jonathan’s time as musical director the choir gained a significant reputation in performing the works of the major Baroque composers, such as J S Bach, Handel and Haydn, although the repertoire expanded to include the work of many other composers. The highlight of this period was a performance of the Britten “War Requiem”
A major personality in Saint George’s Singers from its formation until his untimely death in 2000 was Darcy Chillingworth. Darcy was a one man organising committee throughout his time in the choir, and its survival through testing times is a tribute to his persistence and his hard work. The choir owes a great deal to Darcy and he will be long remembered.
When Jonathan left to become musical director at Great St Mary’s Church in Cambridge, he was succeeded by Andrew Cantrill. Although his time with the choir was sadly short his quality was evident. His stay featured a performance of the Monteverde “Vespers of 1610”. David Byers brought to the role an encyclopaedic knowledge of classical music. As a result his time as musical director was characterised by a significant broadening of the repertoire, and the choir performed new and challenging work. David left in 2000 and later became the Chief Executive of the Ulster Orchestra.
The choir was directed for a short time by Charles Harrison, before he left to take up the post of musical director at Lincoln Cathedral.
Brian MacKay’s appointment as musical director in 2002 opened a new chapter in the choir’s history. His focus has been on development. The choir has grown to about 70 voices. Vocal coaching and workshops have significantly improved the quality of the choir. The formation of Saint George’s Sinfonia has ensured that the choir has high quality orchestral support, and a number of collaborative ventures with other groups are planned.
Brian he was succeeded by Marion Doherty, who is both a musical academic of considerable distinction, and a choral trainer of very wide experience. Marion took the choir on a nine-season musical journey through over 500 years of music, from the glorious polyphony of the renaissance to the cutting edge of the 21st century.
Last year season we welcomed a new Musical Director, David Stevens, then Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Anne’s Cathedral. After a rewarding year with David, we wished him well as he left these shores to work in Wells cathedral
Our current musical Director is talented local musician Mark McGrath. Mark is very well known for his excellence as organist, keyboard player and conductor . The future of choral music is an exciting one, and the choir is looking forward to continuing development in quality and repertoire in the future.