As with all good narratives, the text begins with:
“Once upon a time…”
Since the exact origins of The Thetford Singers seems to have been lost in the annals of time, it seems a good way to begin our history!
Once upon a time, Norfolk County Council Education Committee included a singing class in its evening school classes at Thetford. A peripatetic teacher came from Norwich and the group, numbering about fifteen members, met at Redcastle Furze School. However, the small attendance meant that the minimum number required in order to maintain the viability of the class wasn’t reached and the meetings eventually stopped.
In 1974, a well-known local gentleman and singer, Bernard Wesby, regenerated the group and became its first conductor. They sang motets, small glees and four part songs. The group called itself Thetford Singers and the rest, as they say, is history.
A liaison with the Thetford Twinning Association fostered close links with the Collegium Musicum in Hurth, Thetford’s twin town in Germany, and led to several happy exchanges between our choir and their orchestra with both enjoying the opportunities of making friends and music in each other’s countries.
During the past forty years, the choir has appeared at venues in and around Thetford as well as further afield in Swaffham, Bury St Edmunds, Downham Market, Kings Lynn, Ely Cathedral. We have performed with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Bury Friendly Orchestra at the Apex. We sing a variety and range of styles.
Christmas is always a busy time for the Thetford Singers as we usually give a concert including traditional and other Yuletide music, entertain the holiday-makers at Center Parcs and sing carols in the town in order to collect for the CLIC Sargent children’s charity.
Today the group has expanded to form a chorus of about fifty committed and enthusiastic singers drawn from a wide area of Norfolk and Suffolk. Choral singing has long been part of the British way of life. It was the tremendous impact of the oratorios of Handel in the eighteenth century that set in train the English Choral Society tradition so admired since then. Thetford Singers strive to foster and promote this tradition.
A successful choir must always be looking for new challenges and the Thetford Singers are keen to explore different areas of repertoire, including those that require large choral forces.