The Marches Choir was established in the autumn of 2000, following a performance of Handel’s Messiah earlier that year to celebrate the Millennium. The choir has around 80 active members, and is based in the market town of Bishops Castle in Shropshire, close to the Welsh border. Our rehearsals take place weekly, in and around the town, usually at the Community College. We are very lucky to have some wonderful venues for concerts on our doorstep, including the magnificent St John the Baptist Church, the SpArC theatre, and the stunning Georgian Walcot Hall, with its fabulous ballroom, as well as a large and loyal audience.
Alistair Auld has been our Musical Director since January 2015. We have a number of other professional musicians within the choir, including founder Philippa Whitaker, who aid with the coaching of the choir.
Our programme for the year usually includes two main concerts, which focus on large-scale choral works. The summertime gives us room to try out different types of music, from light opera to African spirituals, and we even occasionally venture into costumed pieces. Christmas also gives us a chance to sing some well known favourites, alongside some less explored pieces, including in recent years brand-new carols composed by one of our members!
We are extremely lucky in that the majority of our concerts are accompanied by the Marches Sinfonia. This orchestra is made up of professional musicians who join us from both the local area, but also from further afield including south Wales, and even as far as London on occasion. We are very fortunate also to be able to attract some high profile soloists to sing with us in our concerts, as well as working with members of AberOpera, a company of extremely talented amateur singers from Aberystwyth.
From time to time we visit our counterparts in Northern France for choral events. Our most recent visits to France have included Hesdin Abbey and St Germain des Pres in Paris. We have also hosted a German choir from Erlangen near Nuremburg, and enjoyed a return visit.