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The Leeds Guild of Singers
is a chamber choir founded in 1948 by members of the university for “the study and practice of Choral music in order to foster public knowledge and appreciation of such music by means of public performance.” (from our Constitution).
The initial group of professional and semi-professional singers wished to encourage and promote the highest standards of singing and music making in Leeds, and the Guild has maintained a close relationship with the Music Department at Leeds University, many of its conductors being on the staff of the University, and rehearsing in the Clothworker's Hall there. The number of singers varies between 20 and 30 though our constitution allows up to 40. We usually have at least some who are semi-professional and many are graduates of music degrees but we're mostly gifted (i.e. we do have auditions) amateur. We
pride ourselves on a light flexible pure sound, and rapid turnover of repertoire.
The Guild gives up to 10 concerts each season, mainly in Yorkshire, often for charity, but has performed in venues including Fountains Abbey, Ripley Castle, Cartmel Priory, St Cuthbert's, Wells and in 2007 at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, Glasgow, as well as major venues around Leeds, including the Royal Armouries, Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, Leeds Cathedral and Leeds Parish Church (now Leeds Minster).
The choir has always taken an enterprising approach to its performances, commissioning and performing a number of new works, including Songs from Mount Grace by Philip Wilby in 1998 for the choir's Jubilee celebrations (dedicated to the memory of Joan Balmforth, for many years the leading light of the
choir) and by the director, and performing jointly with local and national instrumental ensembles. Repertoire ranges widely across 7 centuries, sacred and secular, serious and light, including a number of first performances, for example the choir's visit to Hexham Abbey in June 2008 to present a new performing edition (by the director) of Cavalli's Vespers (1656), a major work on a par with Monteverdi's great 1610 Vespers, with Baroque orchestra.
The Philip Wilby Choral Library
, in Leeds University's Music Department, holds our collection of scores, part of the Leeds University Choral Expertise and Attainment (LUCEAT) Network, which means your choir may be able to borrow copies of any music we perform. The library is searchable here.
The Director of Music, Joseph Judge
(his website): director of the Hallé Choral Academy, and Founder of Turton Consort, he also holds a number of positions around the North West. He was one of eight inaugural Fellows of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (2015/16), performing as part of an elite vocal octet throughout the UK and in Malta, Shanghai and Hong Kong. He frequently performs as a soloist, and works with UK ensembles such as Westminster Abbey Choir and Armonico Consort. He has participated in masterclasses given by James Gilchrist, Harry Christophers CBE, and Lucy Schaufer.
Past Directors:
Dr Melville Cook, James Denny, Frank Mumby, Prof Richard Rastall (also our President), Philip Miles, Roy Rimmer, Roger Quick, Anthony Cooke, Keith Firth, Geoff Phillips, Jill Wild, Nicholas Meredith, Graham Coatman (1998[?]-2017).
Guest conductors:
Eno Koço, Clive McClelland, Chris Newton.
Links to and from here:
  • Gerontius, choir & concert listings.
  • My Yorkshire, under Clubs & Organizations then Choirs & Choral Societies.