Thames Philharmonic Choir Kicks Off Jubilee Season With 1964 Messiah Rerun

‘Outstanding’ local choir returns to the newly refurbished All Saints’ Kingston

Thames Philharmonic Choir (TPC) will kick off its Golden Jubilee season with a performance of the Messiah, which in 1964 featured in the first performances of the two choirs that subsequently merged to form TPC under the baton of Artistic Director John Bate. The Choir, many of whose members are drawn from the Boroughs of Richmond, Kingston and Wandsworth, returns to the newly refurbished All Saints’ Kingston for the first of its Golden Jubilee concerts on 6 December.

The Choir’s formation and development is synonymous with John Bate who was founder, in 1964, of both the Putney Bach Choir and the Richmond Choral Society. In 1975, the two choirs merged and subsequently became well-known in South-West London as the John Bate Choir – described as a provisional name. It took another 20 years for the Choir to agree on a permanent name: Thames Philharmonic Choir was finally adopted in 1995.

Looking back on the last 50 years, John Bate says: “Thames Philharmonic Choir, under its various names, has been a constant thread throughout most of my adult life and professional musical career. Choirs, orchestras and opera work, together with my teaching in schools and universities, have come and gone over the last half-century, while the Choir has progressed from its beginnings as a pair of local authority evening classes to a position where it is recognised as one of the finest around. I am very proud of what the Choir has achieved and delighted that so many members have remained for many years.”

The Choir twice won the National Choral Competition held at the Royal Albert Hall, and subsequently embarked on an annual series of appearances in the South Bank Queen Elizabeth Hall. Short tours abroad became a regular feature of Choir life, and in the 1980s a performing partnership with the Symphonic Choir of the historic City of Konstanz on the German-Swiss border was established – and continues to thrive to this day. In the 1990s, regular summer cathedral residencies began, and in the last few years Cadogan Hall has become the Choir’s central London venue of choice.

Reviewing the Choir’s most recent concert at St Andrew’s Surbiton in June 2014, Kingston-based composer Kevin Jones wrote: “As it approaches its fiftieth anniversary season next year, John Bate and the Thames Philharmonic Choir can justifiably take great pride in the outstanding contribution they have made and continue to make to the cultural life of South West London and beyond.”

Handel’s Messiah at All Saints’ Kingston

For the Kingston performance on 6 December, soloists will include Heather Shipp (Alto) who has sung with the Choir on some 18 occasions since 1992, performing at concerts at Queen Charlotte Hall, Richmond, Kingston Parish Church and St Mary’s Church, Barnes while building up a successful international career on stage and in concert. Other soloists will include Tenor Adam Tunnicliffe who performed to great acclaim at both Cadogan Hall and Kingston concerts in 2011 and 2012; as well as Soprano Marie Jaermann and Samuel Evans (Bass) who have both sung with the Choir in recent seasons while students at the Royal College of Music. The concert will also feature the Choir’s regular orchestral partner, Thames Festival Orchestra under its distinguished Leader Adrian Levine, as well as some of the Choir’s favourite soloists.

Other highlights of the Jubilee year

Other highlights of the Jubilee year include a performance of Bach’s St John Passion on 14 March 2015, featuring the legendary Tenor Neil Jenkins in the role of Evangelist, also at All Saints’ Kingston, and Haydn’s Creation at London’s Cadogan Hall on 13 June 2015.

November 10, 2014