There has been a music society in Hadleigh for over 130 years. The first reference is dated 1885, when the conductor, George Hardacre, issued these stern instructions to the choir:
"To insure success in the performance of Judas Maccabaeus tonight, I finally ask all present:
To place entire dependence upon my baton throughout the choruses, and not to listen for the accompaniments or solo voices as guides in any way
That the signs for rising and sitting may be attended to with great precision"
Nothing much has changed in that regard!
Special Services, concerts, were held in St Mary's Church during the late 19th century, with chorus numbers reaching 90. Soloists had backgrounds that included working in Paris and at St Paul's Cathedral. In 1919 the choir became the Hadleigh Operatic & Dramatic Society and then, in 1950, Hadleigh Choral Society.
Archives for the earlier years are now fragmented and it is probable there were some breaks in the continuity of the choir. However, since 1950, it has thrived. In 1988 it was reformed by Tom Langley, who conducted a performance of Messiah and continued as Musical Director for three years. Christopher Phelps has been Musical Director since 1991, when his first concert was Haydn's Creation, performed on 27th April to celebrate the Hadleigh Millenium.
In recent years, the Society has had two notable past presidents: Sir Charles Grove from 1988 until his death in 1992, followed by George Malcolm until his death in 1977. More recently, and until her death in 2017, Hester Agate held the post, and has now been succeeded by John Lill.
Hadleigh Choral Society is a member of Ipswich Arts Association and is affiliated to Making Music, which represents and supports amateur choirs, orchestras and music promoters throughout the UK.