Thame Choral Society was formed in 1960 by Geoffrey Chaplin, Headmaster of the Wenman School in Thame (now the Lower School in Towersey Road). He became the first director and the choir, initially numbering about 20, met and rehearsed in Thame Baptist Church and performed in the schoolroom of the local Methodist Church.
After about three years Geoffrey handed over to Bill Gilbert who became the Director for the next 23 years. During this time the choir performed at Dorchester Abbey, took part in competitions at the Royal Albert Hall and recorded music in St Mary’s Church.
When the first Towersey Festival took place in 1965, Thame Choral was invited to take part and process along the street to sing at St Catherine’s Church.
Summer evening at Long Crendon and Hiawatha in costume
In addition to the formal concerts, many pleasant summer evenings were spent singing in the lovely garden of founder members Doreen and Ken Urch in Long Crendon, followed by supper. At those summer evening concerts many lighter works were performed ranging from Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha and Edward German's Merrie England to various Gilbert and Sullivan favourites.
In 1986, Bill handed the baton to local musician, David Hayes. During David’s time, the choir joined forces with other choirs including Bicester Choral Society. They performed Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony at Aylesbury Civic Centre and sang at the Town Hall and the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.
In 2001, the Society celebrated its 40th anniversary with a performance of Verdi's Requiem at Thame Sports and Arts Centre. For this concert, they were joined by singers from both local and London choral societies and the 120-strong choir was ably supported by a 50-piece orchestra, complete with off-stage trumpets in the Dies Irae.
David stayed in the position until 2007 at which time Colin Spinks, who had been our accompanist for some time, took over as Director. Colin's rehearsal style was a little different in that he fulfilled the joint roles of conductor and accompanist.
During Colin's tenure, we celebrated the Golden Anniversary of the Society with a performance of Handel's Messiah at St Mary's Church, Thame on 30 November 2011 for which we were joined by former members of the choir and the young members of Thame Chamber Choir's junior section, TCC2.
TCC2 at St Mary's Church, Thame
Colin (L) and seven members of the Society
at Twickenham in 2011
Earlier that year in April, eight members of the society joined Wycombe Choral Society to sing before an audience of 38,000 at Twickenham Rugby Football Ground for a match between local team Wasps and Bath RFC.
Sadly, in spite of the rousing singing of Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, I Vow to Thee my Country and the National Anthem by the joint choirs, on this occasion Wasps were overwhelmed by their opponents!
With Colin, the choir added some new works to those that were already familiar, including Rossini's PetiteMesse Solonelle in its original chamber form with piano and harmonium accompaniment, Rutter's Magnificat. His final concert with us was a performance of Mozart's Requiem Mass and Missa Brevis in D in May 2013.