NCS history described in the 120th concert programme.
With many new members and a young new conductor, Newbury Choral Society brims with the enthusiasm that filled its founder members. It was in 1884 that a group of enthusiastic singers approached J.S. Liddle, the St. Nicolas Church organist and choir master, suggesting they form a choral society. In January 1885 the new choir gave its first concert, conducted by Mr Liddle, with music by Schubert, Bennett and by the conductor himself.
The choir never looked back, with three concerts that first year, and performing every year bar 1940 since. By May 1895 the choir was confident enough to invite Parry to conduct his oratorio “Judith”. Their confidence was well founded. With an audience of 800, the choir and a large orchestra the Corn Exchange must have been bulging at the seams.
In 1902 Samuel Colerigde-Taylor conducted his “Hiawatha” trilogy over concerts in April and December.
Mr Liddle must have dominated the early history of the choral society. His final concert, after 36 years as conductor, was in December 1920 – a performance of Elgar’s masterpiece, “The Dream of Gerontius”.
If J.S Liddle shaped the first 50 years of Newbury Choral Society, John Russell, with 31 years in charge shaped the second. He introduced the choir to Finzi, Britten and Berlioz. In 1972 the choir performed Vaughan Williams “A Sea Symphony” to mark the centenary of the composer. The decision to perform the great Elgar trilogy of “The Dream of Gerontius”, “The Apostles” and "The Kingdom” from 1973 to 1976 was a brave one, both artistically and financially, but ultimately vindicated.
Clive Fairburn had the honour of conducting the centenary concert, a performance of Verdi’s “Requiem”. Clive conducted the choir’s first performance of “Carmina Burana” and took the choir to the Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.