EDD CAINE - Our NEW Musical Director
I am really excited to have been appointed as Musical Director of Wombourne and District Choral Society. It has been a dream of mine to have a choral society to conduct, ever since I first sung Brahms Requiem with the joint Quaker Schools choir in Yorkshire in 1996. I am so looking forward to joining you on a journey exploring some of the most amazing choral music ever written.

I live in Wordsley and have two young girls Sophie (4) and Isabelle (2). I am a conductor, pianist and composer. I completed an undergraduate degree in Music at Durham University, and a Masters and PhD in Musical Composition at the University of York, where I conducted, sang in and accompanied many choirs and societies.

Since I moved to the West Midlands in 2014, I have been working as musical director accompanist and pit musician for the many local Musical Theatre societies, as well as working as piano teacher, and Research Assistant for Jeffrey Skidmore, Artistic Director of Ex Cathedra in Birmingham.

I have been conducting choral music since I was at school and I spend a lot of time thinking about it, writing it and typesetting new editions of manuscripts that are hundreds of years old. I have a particular passion for uncovering old, rich Middle English texts and setting them, and have recently written 14 choral settings from a Manuscript in the British Library titled “Sloane MS 2593” – a 14th/15th century manuscript which contains the earliest source of the text Adam lay ybounden, of which you may be familiar. I am passionate about all sorts of choral music, and I hope to bring you along with my enthusiasm and inspire you to explore this fantastic repertoire.

Accompanist (to be announced)

Henry Ibberson, our Chairman

Henry's musical life started as a treble in the Church Hall of the bombed-out St Mark's Church in Sheffield, coupled with attempts as a pianist, which took a back seat when he met and married Liz, a Graduate of the Royal Academy in London! Early childhood visits with his parents to orchestral and choral concerts cemented this love of music and singing, which lead to membership of Choral Societies in Sheffield, Manchester and Cumbria, before settling with WDCS on moving to the Midlands.

Musical links go back a couple of generations too, as both his and Liz's Grandmothers sang together in the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus and his Grandfather, an accomplished organist, studied with Charles M Widor in Paris in the 1890's. Letters from him and Jules Vierne, who dedicated an organ piece to 'J W Ibberson', and a signed photograph are still treasured family heirlooms.

Having started his working life in the family cutlery business, Henry spent most of his career in Sales & Marketing for the Steel, Foundry and Aluminium Industries, interspersed with 5 years owning and running with Liz, a Country House Hotel in the Yorkshire Dales. They are both now enjoying retirement, out door pursuits with a couple of lively dogs, amateur dramatics, concerts, music-making wherever possible, and increasingly the rewards of grand-parenting.

His focus is to ensure that WDCS continues to thrive and grow, by bringing the joy of the highest possible standard of amateur choral music-making to a wider and younger audience, reflected in the Society's links both with Wombourne High School and Wolverhampton Grammar School .

Committee Members...
xChair: Henry Ibberson - Tel: 01902 701136 - Mob: 07775 680705 - Email: ibberson@uwclub.net
 Vice Chair: Denis Beaumont
 Treasurer: Sheila Askew
 Secretaries: Eileen Brown (including Membership)
Liz Ibberson (Concerts)
Carole Boys (Friends of WDCS)
 Fund Raising & Social Events: Sheila Jones
 Concert / Orchestra Manager: Lindy Macdonald
 Librarians: Claire Lakkha & Stephanie Sherwood
 Section Reps: Jean Posnett (Soprano) - Carole Boys (Alto)
Neil Stockall (Tenor) - Denis Beaumont (Bass)
 Orchestra & Soloists Admin: Lindy Macdonald
 Ticket Sales: Sheila Askew
  Mora O'Sullivan
Other Members (Non-Voting)...
 Stage Manager:  Mike Hayward
 Publicity & Programme Design:  Mike Coope - Tel: 01902 700426 - Email: mike@sensorland.com
 Web Manager:  Mike Coope - Tel: 01902 700426 - Email: mike@sensorland.com

Wombourne & District Choral Society is a registered charity No: 1067808
Wombourne & District Choral Society is pleased to be part of the 'Making Music' community.

We celebrate 90 years...
Formed back in 1929, the WDCS Choir celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2019... quite an achievement! To celebrate this event, the choir performed three concerts during the year.

Where we rehearse...
We rehearse every Monday evening in term time in the Lecture Theatre at Smestow School in Windmill Crescent, Castlecroft, Wolverhampton WV3 8HU from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

The rehearsal is taken by our Musical Director, Edd Caine and the accompanist is (to be announced).

New members are always welcome...
New singers are always welcome to the choir.
For more information, contact our Membership Secretary, Eileen Brown at
eileenbrown31@talktalk.net or on 01902 892391. more >>

John Rutter CBE - Patron of Wombourne Choral Society 

John Rutter

John Rutter
John Rutter CBE - Composer (Patron of our choir)
John Rutter was born in London in 1945 and received his first musical education as a chorister at Highgate School. He went on to study music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he wrote his first published compositions and conducted his first recording while still a student.

His compositional career has embraced both large and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children’s operas, music for television, and specialist writing for such groups as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the King’s Singers.

His larger choral works, Gloria (1974), Requiem (1985), Magnificat (1990), Psalmfest (1993) and Mass of the Children (2003) have been performed many times in Britain, North America, and a growing number of other countries. He co-edited four volumes in the Carols for Choirs series with Sir David Willcocks, and, more recently, has edited the first two volumes in the new Oxford Choral Classics series, Opera Choruses (1995) and European Sacred Music (1996).

From 1975 to 1979 he was Director of Music at Clare College, whose choir he directed in a number of broadcasts and recordings. After giving up the Clare post to allow more time for composition, he formed the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir primarily dedicated to recording, and he now divides his time between composition and conducting.

He has guest-conducted or lectured at many concert halls, universities, churches, music festivals, and conferences in Europe, Africa, North and Central America and Australasia. In 1980 he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music.

He was honoured in the 2007 Queen’s New Year Honours List, being awarded a CBE for services to music.

(WDCS - John visited Wombourne Choral Society in 2009 and conducted the weekly rehearsal.)

The History of our choir...

Musical Directors through the years:

Ian Clarke: 2001-2021

Harry England: 1929 - 1942

Patricia Groves: 1942 - 1958

Dennis Powell: 1958 - 1993

David Parkes: 1993 - 2006

Ian Clarke: 2006 - present day

History of Wombourne & District Choral Society

The choir, originally called the Wombourne Choral Society, was founded in 1929 by Harry England. Formerly a professional baritone, he had been headmaster of Enville School near Kinver, and organist of Enville Church. Following Harry’s death in 1942 in his late eighties, Miss Groves, head of music at the Technical High School, became the choir’s second conductor. She left the district in 1958 and was then succeeded by Dennis Powell who remained the conductor until 1993. (At some stage the original Wombourne Choral Society changed its name to Wombourne and District to reflect the fact that many of its members come from much further afield.)

The rehearsal venue was originally the Wesleyan Chapel, now the United Reformed Church, in Wombourne’s centre, where the first concert under Dennis Powell took place. The main work was Edward German’s ‘Merrie England’. Later the rehearsal venue moved to the Church School, Wombourne. It was decided that the choir should become an evening class, initially under Sedgley Evening Institute’s wing, but later under Staffordshire Education Committee. This lasted until the choir moved to Springdale Junior School, Wolverhampton, when we were adopted by Wolverhampton Education Committee. Several years later, independence was resumed.

Under Dennis Powells’ tenure, the choir developed to become essentially the choir it has become today. It accompanied the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra in many large scale works, including Vaughan-Williams’s ‘Sea Symphony’, Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ and ‘Music Makers’, Tippet’s ‘A Child Of Our Time’, Constant Lambert’s ‘Rio Grande’, JS Bach’s ‘St Matthew Passions’? and ‘B Minor Mass’ and Handel’s ‘Messiah’. Dennis also conducted the choir in a number of smaller works by less well known composers, such as Moeran, Finzi and Poulenc.

When Dennis Powell retired in 1993, David Parkes became the fourth conductor and the choir continued to go from strength to strength. Well-established favourites were mixed with challenges such as Honegger’s ‘Christmas Cantata?’ There were ambitious large-scale performances, notably the Verdi ‘Requiem’ and Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ both in Wolverhampton Civic Hall, the latter with Paul Nilon as an overwhelming Gerontius, Brahms’s ‘A German Requiem’ in Dudley Town Hall with Denise Leigh as soloist. Summer concerts became well-established, giving us opportunities to explore a lighter repertoire including virtual excursions to Broadway.David also led us on a real excursion to France in 2003, starting a fascinating musical and social association with Chantemoy choir from Orléans. This was followed by a return visit from Chantemoy in 2005. Our choir made a second visit to the Loire Valley in 2007 and Chantemoy returned to Wolverhampton in 2010.

In 2006, David reluctantly took his leave of us, and was succeeded by Ian Clarke, already well known to the choir for his splendid organ and continuo playing in several of our concerts. Under Ian’s direction, the choir continues to develop its repertoire and skills, with performances of steadily increasing scale and musical quality. Membership currently stands at around 100 singers. Those interested in joining may be attracted by the policy of “no auditions”. The mix of old and new continues. Vaughan-Williams makes a welcome return in his centenary year.
The choir has frequently used local solo singers, including the baritone John Oxley who is a member of the choir. Other soloists are often drawn from past and present students of the Guildhall School of Music and we have over the years been fortunate enough to sing with young soloists who have later progressed to establish themselves as major performers on the concert stage. The choir has been accompanied over the years by a number of smaller orchestral groups, including most recently Chameleon Arts and the Orchestra da Chiesa. We have also been very fortunate in the pianists who have accompanied us both at rehearsals and performances. Anthea Podmore, our accompanist of very long standing, retired in 2006 and we were very pleased that the equally brilliant Beryl Beech was willing to join us.

Since 2006, under Ian’s meticulous guidance there has been an amazing musical journey, taking in performances of some of the most famous and much-loved choral classics, documented elsewhere and on the web-site, as well as lighter pieces, generally for our Summer Concert programmes. Beryl has been such a delightful, sensitive, hard-working and talented accompanist for over twelve years, that it was hard in 2018 for the Choir to accept her decision to retire, though happily remaining with us as a strong soprano. We were lucky indeed to be able to welcome Tony Bridgewater to follow on from her, bringing with him a wealth of experience, not just as an accompanist but also as a composer and performer, as well as willingly deputizing as MD from time to time.

Our new rehearsal home at Wombourne High School, back in Wombourne, together with our growing links with Wolverhampton Grammar School both form part of our development planning to ensure the Choir continues its high standard of music making for decades to come. As we celebrate our 90th year, we look forward to welcoming new members of all ages and to bringing our brand of music-making to an ever wider audience.

[This article has been condensed by Anthony Rathbone in 2008 from articles written in April 2000 by Dennis Powell, the choir's former conductor and by Giles Job, our archivist and member of the bass section, and recently updated (July 2019) by our present Chairman, Henry Ibberson.]

Our MD Ian Clarke IAN CLARKE
Retired Musical Director 2021
After studies in London and in Cambridge, as Organ Scholar of Trinity College, Ian returned to his native town of Northampton, a home base for a busy musical life. Having been Director of Music at the two famous musical churches in Northampton, All Saints’ and St Matthew’s, Ian now lives in the tiny village of Old, from where he pursues an active freelance career.

In addition to teaching commitments at Kimbolton School, he conducts three choirs, including the Wombourne and District Choral Society and the highly-acclaimed chamber group, the Swarbrick Singers; he plays with several instrumental ensembles as solo harpsichordist and organist, including the London Harpsichord Ensemble, several times at the Bath Bach Festival, and previously at the Purcell Room and live on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ programme; and as principal harpsichordist, organist and compere of the City of Oxford Orchestra, with whom he has recorded several compact discs.

He tours the country with his cousin Catherine Flye in several successful shows celebrating the work of: Joyce Grenfell, ‘George ... Don’t Do That!’; Ivor Novello, ‘Forever Ivor’; and Noel Coward ‘An Amazing Party’.)

Now on the Panel of Examiners for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Ian’s musical work takes him far afield, and he has appeared on BBC radio and television, both as player and conductor.

TONY BRIDGEWATER - Our previous Accompanist
Tony was a student at the Birmingham School of Music and St John’s College, Cambridge, studying composition with Peter Tranchell and piano with Malcolm Wilson and Renee Reznek. He has also participated in piano workshops with Margaret Fingerhut, David Owen Norris and James Lisney, and conducting workshops with Rodney Winther, formerly of Cincinatti University.

He gives regular recitals as an accompanist to local musicians, especially the violinist Anna Downes in the Himley Duo, and appears frequently in the ‘Local and Live’ concert series in Stourbridge. In September 2016 he was also appointed Principal Accompanist for the Kidderminster Male Choir.

He has composed a wide range of music, including orchestral and choral music, pieces for concertband and smaller instrumental and vocal works, In November 2015, the pianist Margaret Fingerhut gave the first performance of his Concert Piece for piano and orchestra, and in March 2017 he conducted the premiere of a fifteen minute tone poem for orchestra ‘The Legend of the Tamar’. Later that year Paula Downes gave the first performances of his song cycle ‘The Other Side of a Mirror’.

Forthcoming premieres include his Suite for Oboe and Piano, and ‘Memories of Scotland; a Fantasy on Scottish Folk Songs’.His music for brass and wind instruments is published by Forton Music, including his Sonata for Flutes, first performed in 2015 by the National Flute Orchestra of which he is Musical Director and Conductor, his Trumpet Sonata, ‘Overture for a Festival’ for Concerband and the Suite for Oboe.


Helping to support our choir...
We are developing various initiatives in an effort better to secure the Choir’s financial future. More >>

Programme Advertising
We are now including advertisements in the programme, funded by local businesses who wish to express their support for our objectives. We extend our grateful thanks to them and ask that our audience support them wherever you can.
Moreover, if you know of other businesses who may wish to support us in this way, please contact either our Chairman Henry Ibberson (01902 701136 - ibberson@uwclub.net) or Mike Coope, Publicity & External Communications Manager (01902 700426 - mike@sensorland.com).

Friends of WDCS
New revised rates of £40 a year for an individual membership and £60 for a couple membership. We will show our appreciation by offering you several benefits including price reduction on some tickets, reserved seating, a free programme, an invitation to our social events, etc. To download a 'Friends' application form, please click here >>

Membership and Company Sponsorship
We are also in contact with local businesses with a view to making their employees aware of WDCS, to see if they might enjoy singing and inviting them initially to come along to our rehearsals. In common with Choral Societies throughout the land, we are always looking for keen new singers - if you yourself are interested, please do not hesitate to let us know!

Allied with this, we have embarked on a programme of Corporate Sponsorship, whereby we are offering local industrial, commercial and professional businesses the opportunity to participate, for certain defined benefits, in the funding of our concert activities, as well as the engagement of our orchestras and professional soloists. If you would like to find out more about this programme, or if you know of a business you feel might be interested in it, please contact Mike Coope or Henry Ibberson (contact details shown above).

Wombourne & District Choral Society is a registered charity No: 1067808

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