The choir, which is about 20 strong, draws most of its members from the Vale of Evesham and Malvern area and rehearses weekly at Little Comberton. From 2019 we will be rehearsing at The De Montfort School, Evesham. Our concerts range from the major choral works to English romantic folk songs, songs from the shows and the best of popular music. We occasionally invite guest soloists to join us but we also have plenty of solo talent within the choir. We always aim to perform to a high standard and to have fun doing so.
The choir has evolved over 40 or 50 years and a solid core of members has given it continuity and kept it strong. New members join a choir with an enormous repertoire but we are constantly adding new material which keeps our performances fresh and and helps members to develop their musical skills. Until the early 1980s we were a small group of not more than 12 singers under the leadership of Christine Groves. We had close links with Evesham Operatic Society and one of their prominent performers, Lila Bailey, became our next musical director for a decade from the mid 1980s. Under her baton, we developed an association with the Derbyshire composer, Les Emmens, and performed some of his original works in Evesham and at the Buxton Fringe Festival which became an annual venue for the choir for several years.
We also initiated a series of annual concerts in Evesham Arts Centre with cabaret-style performances, dance routines and the introduction of popular music as a solid component of the Avon Singer’s repertoire. For much of this time our principal accompanist was the renowned local musician, Billy Davis.
In 1996, Lila passed the baton to Carole Bayliss, a professional music teacher, who has steadily developed the choir into a larger group capable of tackling major choral works as well as adding to our very wide range of lighter music. Recent performances have included the requiems of John Rutter and Gabriel Faure, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Ariel Ramirez’s Missa Criolla and Schubert’s Mass in C. Perhaps most notably we performed Karl Jenkins’ stirring work, The Armed Man, in Evesham and Malvern. We were recently joined by accompanist Chris Long, having previously been accompanied by Jenny Newbury and Alan Johnston.
From 2019 the Avon Singers will be embarking on a new era under the leadership of Claire Hawkes, who joins us as Musical Director and Conductor. She has an extensive background in performing and conducting. Claire thrives on seeing music at the heart of people’s lives and enjoys inspiring singers to explore a wide range of music.
On the lighter side, we still retain our love of Abba and The Beach Boys and the annual carol season of course. Through the generosity of our audiences, we have been able to support several charities including Acorns Children’s Hospice, Macmillan Cancer Support, St Richard’s Hospice, Worcestershire Air Ambulance and Home Farm Trust.