The Holmes Chapel Singers celebrate their 100th performance

Muical Director, Philip Crookhall

Muical Director, Philip Crookhall - Credit: Archant

The Holmes Chapel Singers have something to celebrate this month, as Paul Mackenzie reports

More than 40 years after they first took to the stage, the Holmes Chapel Singers will this month give their 100th performance.

The group began as a spin-off from the village’s amateur operatic and dramatic society and has gained its own loyal fanbase. Members have come and gone over the years but Musical Director Philip Crookall has been there from the start.

He was invited to get involved in 1972 when the group asked him to provide the music for their performance of Oh What A Lovely War. In 1985 the Singers broke away from the Players and staged their first concert later that year.

Since then they have performed three times a year, with occasional extra concerts added to the programme, and Philip, a retired maths teacher, said: ‘It was natural for people who sang in musicals but who had a specific interest in choral singing to come together.

‘We have performed a range of music over the years, everything Mozart to Gilbert and Sullivan and The Beatles. We were the first amateur choir to perform a piece by Karl Jenkins too, so we do try to ensure our repertoire isn’t just the standard choral society fare, but includes modern work as well.’

The 100th concert will be a performance of Handel’s Messiah and will feature members of other societies alongside the Holmes Chapel Singers.

Most Read

‘It’s something most people will know pretty well so it should just be a matter making sure we are all singing from the sheet, as it were,’ Philip said.

‘Singing seems to be very popular at the moment and there are lots of choirs and choral groups around. We haven’t seen a massive surge of interest in the wake of the Gareth Malone television programmes though, we’re always on the lookout for new members.

‘We don’t hold auditions, we have always worked on the understanding that if people want to come along and join in they can, there’s no commitment and we don’t turn anyone away.’

The group’s 100th concert, at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre on March 1st, will raise money for St Luke’s Hospice. For tickets or more information about the group, go to

The saviour of singing

Choral singing has been given a massive boost in recent years by Gareth Malone, who received an OBE for services to music in 2012. He has formed choirs of military wives, children and workmates for BBC television series and has been credited with getting Britain singing.

Groups like the Holmes Chapel Singers – and the many other choral societies around Cheshire – are proof that the artform is alive and well here but Malone’s programmes have inspired even more people to have a go.

Brenda Rothwell of the Cheshire Chord Company, who were formed in the early 1990s, said she has seen the impact first hand. ‘We ran a singing course earlier this year which was fully booked so that’s an indication that people are really inspired to sing,’ she said.

The course was run by the choir’s musical director Jo Braham and Brenda added: ‘The response to the course was quite substantial and I’m sure a lot of that is down to Gareth Malone – he has inspired people to go out and join a choir and we have definitely seen an impact as a result of his programmes.’

The Chord, who have won medals in national and international competitions, will be competing