King's Lynn Music Society
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King's Lynn Music Society

Registered charity 1087580

Short History of the King's Lynn Music Society

In September 1891 the violinist vicar of East Winch, the Reverend E.J. Alvis, was able to announce in the Lynn News that repeated efforts to found a Musical Society in Lynn had been successful. Rehearsals began and on 1st December 1891 a chorus and orchestra of 100, under its founder conductor H.J. Cross, presented Sir W. Sterndale Bennett's May Queen. The concert was well received and the society quickly became an established part of Lynn's musical life.

In its earliest years the society presented two concerts a season and in 1897 an orchestral section was started, which survived until 1965.An experiment was tried in the early 1900's of holding annual music festivals instead of autumn and spring concerts. Very good reviews indicated that the innovation was popular. The society was dormant throughout the Great War but revived with the peace. This revival did not falter during the 1920's when the administration of affairs was in the charge of two remarkable men of unfailing service to music in West Norfolk. They were George R. Oswell, singer and secretary for 41 years, and Holcombe Ingleby of Sedgeford Hall, president and benefactor of the society.

The society's tradition of presenting special charity concerts began in the 1930's with a concert in aid of the British Legion, followed by a series of Hospital Appeal concerts. These hospital concerts were very successful, attracting audiences of upwards of 500 people, whilst that of 1935, which featured Lady Fermoy as soloist, formed part of a BBC outside broadcast.

Between 1939 and 1945 the society resolved to go on with its work, performing impartially the work of great German composers (Brahm's Requiem 1944) and of patriotic Britons (Edward German's Merrie England 1945). In the austerity years after the war, the society kept its popularity. One thousand people crowded into St. Nicholas Chapel to hear Isobel Baillie sing with its members in 1948.

The Festival of Britain in 1950 stimulated yet more interest in the cultural life. In Lynn the annual Festival was set up, while the Musical Society remembered the aim of its founders 'to elevate the taste for good music' and went on advancing it. Aubrey Hood became musical director in 1959 and during the 1960's Lady Margaret Douglas Home was welcomed as solo pianist (and later president), and Jane Manning and Benjamin Luxon as vocalists.

In 1982 Aubrey Hood retired as musical director and took over as accompanist. His 23 years as musical director have been bettered only by F.J. Bone, organist of Sandringham and conductor between 1927 and 1957. However, it does not seem likely that Mr. Hood, as accompanist, will be able to improve on the record of Victor Barker who played for the society for 50 years from 1920 to 1970.

Under the leadership of Stephen Pocklington the society continued to flourish and enjoy success. The Society was reconstituted in 1996 as the King's Lynn Music Society with the aim of furthering the appreciation of classical music by the arrangement of concerts and lectures by local and visiting performers and speakers.