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St. Cecilia Singers

From a Temperance Band Concert Programme
Between the two world wars, Rushden had a leading choir, in the Adult School Male Voice, and by its work in competitions, its frequent concerts and its five broadcasts, became well-known over a wide area.

It was from the Adult School Choir that the St. Cecilia Singers came into being in the Autumn of 1943. The war had brought the old society to a standstill, and the Conductor, Mr. C. T. M. Francis, was left with only a small remnant of his Choir. But the tide of Britain's fortune had turned, and amid the new-born optimism, singers of both sexes were gathered around the "remnants".

Their chosen name pleased, their singing developed well under firm and competent direction, and their services for concerts and broadcasts were welcomed throughout the district. By paying their own expenses and supplying their own artistes, they have spread cheer from many a platform.

Much has been accomplished in the seven years of the "Singers" existence, many major Choral Festivals have been visited with great success. First Prizes and Championship Cups have been obtained at Leamington, Leicester, Wembley and Oxford, to name a few.

Broadcasts have been fairly regular, which proves that the standard of the Choir has been maintained.

The Singers are now awaiting, with hope and interest, the Area Final for the Festival of Britain, to be held at Cambridge on March 10th. and, if success is obtained, a visit to the new Concert Hall on the "South Bank".

The success of the Singers is due to the fact it has a fine Conductor and Musical Director in Mr. Francis, and the credit must go to him.


St cecvilia Singers in 1951
In 1951 at Wellingborough Palace where they appeared with the Black Dyke Mills Band
This copy of the 1951 Programme was sent in by John Vardon
It was annotated with the scores of each choir.
This little plaque is just 68mm x 38mm and was
presented to each member of the choir at the
1951 Festival of Britain
Festival of Britain plaque The back of the plaque
Festival of Britain

The Brithish Federation
of Music Festivals
This Miniature of the Festival Plaque was presented to a
Competitior in the
Festivals of the
National Competitive
Music Festival 1951
Festival of Britain

RDHS Magazine March 1993

St Cecilia Singers - Golden Jubilee Year
(Musical Director Christine M Twell A.L.C.M.)

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the St. Cecilia Singers who were founded in 1943 by the late Mr C.T.M. Francis. He had conducted the Rushden Adult School Male Voice Choir for some years until war came. Then some of the men were called up, leaving a nucleus of men who still wanted to sing but lacked the numbers for a full male choir. Therefore Mr Francis did the next best thing - contacted some lady singers who were interested in forming a mixed voice choir and the St. Cecilia Singers came into being. It has been a tremendous 50 years, so many exciting things have happened from broadcasts on the old Midland Home Service, sometimes with the Rushden Temperance Band and other times, the choir alone. Many Music Festivals were entered and many first prizes won. The highlight in 1951 was the choir singing in the newly opened Royal Festival Hall and competing against the top choirs in the country. As a result of this contest, St. Cecilia's became the ninth best mixed voice choir in the whole of the United Kingdom, after singing against such giants as the J. L. Riley Festival Choir from Macclesfield, who came first and the famous Huddersfield Choral Society (2nd). It all took place in the presence of the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth.

Since the retirement of Mr Francis, the choir have had four different Musical Directors and the present M.D. Christine Twell, A.L.C.M. took over from Chris Lowe in 1991 when he moved to Leicester.

For Our Jubilee Year we have planned an extensive programme of events.

On SATURDAY 20th MARCH, we are holding a 'COME & SING MESSIAH', which is arranged through the radio station CLASSIC FM and the OBSERVER newspaper. All proceeds will go to two charities named by them, namely the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children and the Coram Foundation, once known as the Foundling Hospital(Handel's favourite charity). If you would like to come along to sing or to listen on that day, we would be very pleased to welcome you to the Park Rd Baptist Church. Posters around the town will give you details and tickets are available from the Evening Telegraph Office (£2 to either sing or listen).

On TUESDAY 20th APRIL, we have a CHEESE & WINE EVENING at Hall Park and have invited the Rushden Committee of E.N.D.C. and the Chairman, Mr Alan Mantle to attend. There will be a display of choir memorabilia (old posters, programmes, photograph's etc.) and on the evening we shall be launching a booklet about the choir and its history, compiled by Geoff Twell. We do hope to gain the interest of the townspeople of Rushden in this venture and look forward to seeing you there. Tickets are £4 each.

In June we are staging another concert for Jubilee Year, which is extra to our Annual Concert in November. The June concert will consist of the following works: Harmoniemesse by Josef Hayden, the 5th Chandos anthem by Handel - 'Come, let us sing unto the Lord', two Coronation anthems 'I was glad', C.H.H. Perry and 'Zadok the Priest' by Handel. This concert will be at St. Peters Church, Rushden on SATURDAY 19th JUNE and we will be accompanied by an orchestra made up of many well known county instrumentalists. Saturday 25th September is the occasion of our Annual Choir Dinner but this year with a difference. There will be dancing to follow, with music by Peter Scatterty. We are asking former choir members to bring their partners along to join the present choir, former M.D.'s and any friends who would like to attend. The event is at Rushden School. Price of tickets at a later date.

To mark our Golden Jubilee, we have asked ENDC if we can plant a rose bed with some bushes called 'St. Cecilia', a new rose this year. They will be in the centre bed opposite the Hall, we shall also place a plaque.

Joan Maddams

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