Langcliffe Singers - History
The Langcliffe Singers was formed in 1983 by Valerie Baulard, a local singing teacher with a background in professional singing in both opera and oratorio, who had a cottage in the village of Langcliffe, Originally a choir of ten women and one boy treble, their first performances were at outdoor venues, such as Fountains Abbey, singing madrigals and part-songs a capella. In the autumn of 1984 the group expanded to include men’s voices and the full SATB choir was born. It was a community choir with membership open to anyone with a love of singing, who could hold their line of music in four-part choral works. Their accompanist at this time was Larraine Attwood.
The Langcliffe Singers’ early concerts were often put on to raise funds for good causes, often in local churches. In summertime the choir toured Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire, usually where a choir member had a contact, combining the concert with a walk or other outing. By this time the choir had grown to about fifty.
By the late 1980s the repertoire was expanded to include small choral works, madrigals and part songs both secular and religious, and occasionally Val was assisted by Doris Smith in split rehearsals.
Their first foray into staged productions was Trial by Jury, and then in 1992, having a number of suitable pupils who were choir members to take the solo parts, Val thought the time was ripe to put on a performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute, a work she had enjoyed as soloist at Glyndebourne. Settle Orchestra was then without a conductor, but Val persuaded her husband Howard Rogerson to take up the baton. Howard had considerable professional orchestral experience, particularly in opera, and the collaboration was a great success for both choir and orchestra. This was the start of Howard’s 15 years as conductor of Settle Orchestra, and of many joint concerts with the choir. The choir extended its operatic repertoire with staged performances of The Marriage of Figaro, Yeomen of the Guard, Patience, Don Giovanni, and Orpheus in the Underworld.
In 1993 Brian Heaton was appointed as accompanist, and as the choir grew in number and ability they performed Handel’s Messiah, requiems by Fauré, Mozart and Brahms, and in collaboration with Settle Orchestra under Howard’s baton, performances of Verdi’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and two opera galas.
It was a proud moment in 2002 for both Val and the choir when she received the Sir Charles Groves Prize from Making Music for her services to music in the community.
In 2004 Val retired from the choir she had founded and conducted for 20 years, and Tricia Rees-Jones, a choir member with an extensive musical and singing background, took over as musical director.
A new musical director always brings a new perspective and under Tricia’s direction the choir thrived and developed, employing more professional and semi-professional soloists and orchestral players. In 2006 the choir commissioned ‘The Leaves of Life’, a major work by Andrew Gant, the Master of Music at the Chapel Royal. This was made possible by generous grant funding from the PRS Foundation for new music, the Craven Trust and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust.
Over the next few years, Tricia assembled various ensembles of young professionals and students to accompany the choir in performances of Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Coronation Anthems.
In 2009 Nigel Waugh was appointed as the choir’s new conductor. Under his direction the choir has performed works as diverse as Bach’s St John Passion, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle and music celebrating the Leeds-Liverpool canal! They have also hosted a series of ‘Come and Sing’ events which have attracted singers from all around the Craven area. Nigel has also fostered a link with the children from Skipton Music Centre who have taken part in performances including Britten’s St Nicolas and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, and continued the association with Settle Orchestra in concerts to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation and the orchestra’s own 50th anniversary.