The choir of St Francis of Assisi was established in 1935 when the present Church was built.
There are around 30 trebles (boys and girls) and 14 men in the choir. Most of the juniors are drawn from Applecroft School in Welwyn Garden City, St Mary's School in Welwyn and children from the congregation families. Voice trials take place each November when the few places available are hotly contested! A great deal of commitment and dedication is expected of the trebles who, in return, gain a free musical education, develop a strong sense of responsibility, and experience a marvellous introduction to the treasury of church music. The men of the choir are all local and give their time to the Church freely.
The choir sings at many other churches and cathedrals over and above the commitment it has to St Francis Church. In recent years visits have been made to Norwich, St Albans, Ripon, Peterborough, Portsmouth, St Asaph, Sheffield, Exeter and Winchester Cathedrals.
Over the next three Summers, the choir will sing in Portsmouth, Salisbury and Guildford Cathedrals, and day trips will be made to Aldeburgh Parish Church and Romsey Abbey.
Our trebles do more than sing! Between them, they play the following instruments:
2 french horns
1 cor anglais
Not only do they play these instruments; they play them well!
The following grades have either been reached, or are being worked towards by our trebles:
7 x Grade I
6 x Grade II
2 x Grade III
4 x Grade IV
3 x Grade V
4 x Grade VI
2 x Grade VII
1 x Grade VIII
The St Francis Singers are a choir of ladies who kindly give their time and vocal talents to our church regularly on the second Sunday of each month for the morning Eucharist service. They practice one Thursday per month.
The Singers sometimes join with the Main Choir for the 10am special church festival services which are held five times a year. Midweek evening services, such as Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Ascension Day and Midnight Mass are also sung by the St Francis Singers, joined by the men of the main choir. Various members of the group sing at different carol venues at Christmas time.
During this past year the St Francis Singers have also brought encouragement to congregations at funerals by leading the singing and by providing an uplifting atmosphere at a difficult time for the mourners. Liz Green is very grateful to the individual members of this choir who have a commitment to the group but are not always available due to their own busy lives.
If you are interested, or know of someone who would like to join, then do please get in touch with Liz Green; No audition is necessary, but an understanding of how choral music can enhance our services is probably the most welcome gift you can offer!
The St Francis Youth Choir is a recent musical development at St Francis Church, and was formed when we identified a need for a choir for young people who cannot commit to the demands of the main choir. It is also perfect for the girls of the main choir who retire at 15 years old; they can then transfer to this choir, where there is less regular commitment, continue their singing at St Francis, and have more time to focus on forthcoming school exams.
Rehearsals are not held on a fixed day, but a list of rehearsal times are issued per term to singers. The choir performs at least twice a term at the 9.15am service, usually during the administration of communion. The Youth Choir also raise money for charity around Christmas time singing in the Howard Centre and various homes for retired people.
Boys or girls can join this choir; the only initial requirement is that singers must be aged between 13 and 18. There are currently a number of vacancies, so if you know someone who might be interested, please get in touch with Andrew Henthorn.
The choir prides itself on the depth and variety of the social and spiritual environment that it fosters. It also has an excellent reputation for developing the talents and personal skills of young people within a supportive community.
It is widely acknowledged that a sound musical education significantly improves a child’s IQ. Studies show that music greatly improves a child’s capacity to learn. The commitment and involvement needed contribute to the development of important skills that are of benefit in both personal and professional life. Many choristers from St Francis’ have put these skills to good use and gone on to become professional musicians, barristers, teachers and successes in many other walks of life.
Between 1964 and 2010 the treble line-up was exclusively boys. In 2005 a choir for girls was formed, and in 2010 this choir was amalgamated into the main choir. So for the first time in nearly 50 years, boys and girls sing together in St Francis Church!
Since 1935, there have been a number of organists and choir trainers. Here is the list, but there are gaps. Please let us know if you have the answers!
1935–1964 Susan Frankton, Frances Frankton, a Mr Hughes, Roger Ellison, a Mr Bryant, and Sydney Weart
1964–1982 Malcolm Warwick
1982–1988 Andrew Bruce
1988–1999 Richard Harrison
1999–2006 Andrew Crookall
2006–2010 Elizabeth Green
2010–present Richard Harrison
1935–1970 A number of organists including Maurice Champ
1970–1976 John Marsden (his wife Jill ran a ladies choir called the St. Clare Singers)
1976–present Robin Coxon
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