History

Castleford Choral Society

Founded 1932

History

The Society was founded by a well-known Castleford music teacher called Lily Travis. In 1932 she decided to form a choral union, known affectionately as "Mrs Travis's Choir", made up of singers from her evening classes in Airedale, Glasshoughton, Ashton Road and the Potteries Schools, together with members of Glasshoughton Primitive Methodist Chapel Choir. In the early days Mrs Travis was the choir's conductor and pianist and she also formed a small orchestra of ten musicians, augmented for large concerts from members of Leeds Symphony Orchestra.

The Choral Union performed all kinds of music from oratorio to pantomime, choir and 1940 musicals, in local churches as well as at the Salvation Army Citadel and the Picture House in Castleford. Highlights for the choir in its early days included a performance of Messiah in 1947, when the soloists included Isobel Baillie, Kathleen Ferrier and Owen Brannigan and a concert in London, as part of the celebrations for the Festival of Britain, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Following Lilys death, Jack Harriman became conductor, having originally joined the choir as their accompanist in late 1932. He was succeeded in 1963 by John Henry Walshaw, choirmaster of Castleford Congregational Church and nephew of Lily Travis. "John Henry" determined that the Choral Union would continue to provide good music in Castleford and annual performances of oratorios were given by the choir throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. On John Henry's retirement Marjorie Stoker took over as Conductor. Under her stewardship the Choral Union increased its membership and changed its name to Castleford Choral Society.

After Marjorie Stoker retired, John Griffiths was the conductor for 18 years followed by Simon Earl. Our present conductor is James MacDonald.

Copyright CCS 2017