The Chester Ladies’ Choir was formed in 1955 with some twenty-five voices and was originally called the Upton Ladies’ Choir. It gave its first celebrity concert that year at the Upton Village Hall under the musical direction of its founder, Ronald Hugh Smith. Over the next few years the choir grew in both numbers and musical confidence and gave two or three concerts a year. By 1957, the membership of the choir and its audiences had increased, so their concert venue was moved to the Chester Town Hall. It was a logical progression for the choir to include the City in its name, and so, in October 1961, it was renamed as The Chester Ladies’ Choir.
Under the direction of Ronald Hugh Smith, the choir gave many charity and celebrity concerts until 1971 after which the musical direction of the choir was shared with Robert Owen, Colin Parfitt and Ray Dunley. In 1983, Peter Dalton took over as Musical Director until 1991, when the present incumbent, Rodney T Jones was appointed. Under his musical direction the choir has gone from strength to strength, giving two annual concerts to which a wide range of mostly local guest artistes are invited to perform with the choir. As well as continuing with its charity concert commitments, the choir has also had notable successes in many competitive festivals, culminating in winning the Choral Rose Bowl at the Biddulph Music Festival 2006 beating competition from Male Voice, Mixed Voice and other Female Voice choirs.
The choir has been on three extremely successful tours to Newquay in Cornwall and in 1999 undertook a memorable tour to Malta and its smaller sister island of Gozo where it had the privilege of being invited to sing in the world renowned M’dina Cathedral within the ‘Silent City’. In April 2008, the choir will be touring again, this time to the Bangor International Music Festival in Northern Ireland where it hopes to further enhance its musical reputation.
In recent years, the choir has concentrated on developing its musicality and expanding its repertoire to include all genres of music. Current repertoire extends to opera, sacred music, spirituals, pop songs and songs from the musicals - definitely something to suite every taste!
The choir has a current membership of over sixty-five ladies and they hold open rehearsals every Tuesday evening from 19:30 to 21:30 (with a break during August) at the Wesley Methodist Chapel, St John’s Street, Chester. Visitors and prospective new members will always be warmly welcomed.