The emphasis was on the musicianship of ‘ordinary people’ in the region. The society did attract a cross-class membership, but, the Daily Express noted in 1932, their membership was ‘Drawn from offices, factories, shops and warehouses, they are all working people’.
The choir has a long recording history, starting in 1927 with Columbia Records. One significant performance was the first televised performance of Handel’s Messiah – perhaps the most ubiquitous choral work associated with the Yorkshire region – on 16 December 1953 in Huddersfield Town Hall with the BBC Northern Orchestra, conducted by Sir Malcom Sargent.
The TV Mirror captured the cultural significance of this performance with an article called ‘Huddersfield Sings’. Shirley Long wrote, ‘Every Friday night in this town of wool, football, and engineering, a couple of hundred or more men and women gather together in a hall to sing…This great choir commands the pick of the singing voices of the valleys of the western part of the West Riding.’7
The Huddersfield Examiner enthused that, ‘For those who regard the Huddersfield Choral Society’s interpretation as one of the finest in the country…the performance must have given the greatest pleasure’. The glowing reviews flooded the local press, reflecting pride in the town and its long tradition of music-making.8
Click here to hear Huddersfield Choral Society.