News and Events
March 2021 - Concerts to resume post-lockdown
We are delighted to announce that our schedule of concerts post-lockdown is building up, and we hope to see you at one of these events soon. Details and dates can be found on our Home Page.
Stephen Mitchell appointed as new Musical Director - January 2020
We are delighted to announce that Stephen Mitchell has been appointed as our new Musical Director, with immediate effect.
Stephen began music and voice training under Alan Taylor MBE before moving to Jesus College Cambridge. He has many years’ experience of conducting, notably in London as Director of Choral Music for St George the Martyr Church, Bloomsbury, and most recently in Harrogate as Music Director of the Harrogate Polyphonic Choir, an SATB Chamber Choir formed within the prestigious Harrogate Choral Society of which he was a member for many years. A capable soloist, Stephen is also a composer, with particular interest in choral music with a number of public performances in London including the Magnificat, written for London soloist Jenny Chant, and a setting of the Agnus Dei for double choir, strings and organ. He has received several commissions for choral settings for concert performance and wedding anthems.
Stephen is a Consultant Urological Surgeon, Lead Clinician for the Urology Service Delivery Unit at Wycombe Hospital. He joined the Orpheus as a First Tenor last October and performed with us at Christmas.
Thelma and Louise Charity Concert, Wycombe Town Hall, October 12th 2019
On Saturday 12 October, 300 people packed Wycombe Town Hall to pay tribute to former Wycombe Orpheus Male Voice Choir accompanist, Thelma King who sadly passed away in 2018.
The Orpheus choir were joined by the ladies of the Heath Singers from nearby Flackwell Heath and guest young musicians, 10-year-old violinist Anna Whibley and the Borlase Barbershop singers.
Louise Langley, recently retired from the Orpheus, returned to lead the Choir in a concert entitled Thelma & Louise, Thank You for The Music! The Heath Singers were led by Jan Churchouse with husband Paul accompanying in the first half and then swapping roles in the second as Paul skilfully led the Choir for the first time. The Heath Singers treated us to the fast-paced Rhythm of Life, reflective Seal Lullaby and quirky Alice.
The Orpheus offered their usual entertaining mix of music from the haunting Danny Boy, frivolous Java Jive, through to One Moment in Time and Bohemian Rhapsody where accompanist Becky Holt produced an electrifying performance in the piano solo sections.
The Borlase Barbershop Boys excelled, offering us such classics as Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Blue Velvet and the Billy Joel classic, The Longest Time. Anna Whibley's playing of the violin (purchased with assistance from the Orpheus Bursary fund) and then recorder received sustained and warm applause from a very appreciative audience.
The evening was a roaring success, enjoyed by all present and over £2000 was raised to help fund the Orpheus Young Musicians Festival and to provide a Bursary Award in Thelma King's name.
Annual Concert - 18th May 2019
Report courtesy of Bucks Free Press:
Orpheus sing their hearts out at their 96th anniversary
By Sandra Carter
The annual concert of Wycombe Orpheus Male Voice Choir on Saturday was far more than a showcase for our local singers of a certain age.
The choir, now in its 96th year, has long had a passion to support young musicians. And this year’s programme at The Swan had three youthful treats in store for an enthusiastic audience.
And there was more: on the stage were not only the 40-strong Wycombe choir.
They had invited the Brecon Male Voice Choir to join them, making an ensemble of 70 voices. Now that’s powerful stuff. When they joined together in their opening Anthem from Chess, we knew we were in for an amazing evening of soaring music.
Stand-out numbers included He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, Rise Like a Phoenix, and a totally original take on Bohemian Rhapsody.
Freddie Mercury would surely have loved this fresh approach and fine performance. The piano accompaniment had to emulate the orchestral treatment of the original, and Orpheus’s talented new piano accompanist, Rebecca Holt, rose magnificently to the challenge. The final piece sung by both choirs, Rachie, was spine-tingling music.
While welcoming a new accompanist, the choir said farewell to their musical director, Louise Langley, retiring after 16 years in the role. This is very much the end of an era for the choir and tributes were paid to the passion and professionalism of her leadership.
The first youthful interlude came from the High Wycombe Music Centre Saxophone Choir. These youngsters were incredibly talented, performing three lively jazz numbers with faultless skill and verve.
Clearly our local male voice choir is in fine fettle - but they are looking to recruit new members, as well as a new Musical Director. See www.wycombeorpheus.org.uk if you’d like to join them.
London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs - 13th October 2018
The Orpheus Choir was proud to participate in the London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs in the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 13th October. 15 Choirs from all over the world joined the London Welsh MVC under their Director Edward-Rhys Harry in a magnificent celebration of song, with touching Remembrance items vying with powerful Welsh hymns and popular items from the world of musicals. Accompanied by the Band of the Welsh Guards, Annabelle Thwaite on piano, and James Hearn on the mighty organ, the sound of 800 voices thrilled a capacity 5000-strong audience. Excellent soloists added their own talented contributions.
A truly memorable day and we hope to be invited back on a future occasion!
Vauxhall MVC 75th Anniversary Concert – 16th June 2018
At the invitation of the Vauxhall MVC, Wycombe Orpheus returned to Dunstable after 5 years to celebrate VMVC’s 75th Anniversary last Saturday, along with St Edmundsbury MVC with whom we have also performed in joint concerts. With a combined force of 100+ voices, some of the traditional choruses raised the roof in the splendid acoustic of Dunstable’s Methodist Church. Yet there was superb quality in all three Choirs – quiet reflective pieces, French, pop (yes that was us!) and an overall feeling that we delivered a great concert to an appreciative audience.
The refreshments provided by VMVC held body and soul together for the evening performance – but then...an Afterglow at a nearby hotel with a spread that must rank as one of the best we’ve ever experienced! Choristers who attended the Afterglow thoroughly enjoyed the evident care VMVC had put into all the preparations – we kept to tradition with more singing, expressions of thanks from each Choir and a resolve to do more such events in future. It really was a shame to have to go home. View some Photos here, thanks to Richard Stevens who took them.
Joint Concert with the Southampton Youth Concert Sinfonia - Wednesday 14th February 2018
Our home venue, the Wesley Methodist Church in High Wycombe, resounded to the glorious sounds of this 42-piece orchestra on great form. Supported by a varied programme from The Orpheus, the audience were treated to splendid mix of vocal and orchestral treats.
Marlow Town Band and Wycombe Orpheus raise funds for CAKES 4 CASUALTIES – Saturday 28th October 2017
The powerful combination of the top-class Marlow Town Band and the Wycombe Orpheus in full voice delighted the audience with a varied programme at Marlow’s splendid Parish Church – all in support of a special charity bringing comfort to Forces casualties recovering in hospital.
Cakes 4 Casualties was founded by Kath Ryan, who buys ingredients, bakes, delivers and most importantly, spends precious time with the wounded and sick troops, whom she affectionately calls 'my boys'. Kath, “The Cake Lady” visits injured and sick soldiers in Birmingham Hospitals once a week, and Headley Court (Surrey) once a month on a regular basis.
Kath was present at Marlow to describe her work and enjoy the concert that will contribute significantly to her charity.
Wycombe Orpheus supports the Gerrards Cross Abbeyfield – Saturday 14th October 2017
In a return visit to the Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre, the Wycombe Orpheus Choir, resplendent in new waistcoats, sang to a packed Colston Hall. The audience enjoyed the varied programme of music from Verdi to Abba, joining in with a full rendering of “Bread of Heaven” and later “Thank you for the Music”. Saxophone performances by prize-winning Young Musician Joshua Franklin delighted everyone with his immense talent.
Proceeds will go to furnishing the new conservatory extension recently completed at Abbeyfield’s The Wyke house, adding to the comfort and enjoyment of the residents there.
Wycombe Swan audience enjoy Orpheus Renaissance! - Saturday 20th May 2017
The Orpheus Annual Concert is always the highlight of the Choir year, but this year’s Concert at Wycombe's Swan Theatre on 20th May was particularly innovative.
Through a partnering agreement with local Charity Rennie Grove Hospice at Home, joint promotion ensured that a significant part of the evening’s proceeds directly benefitted the Charity.
The musical mix was also refreshed, with new Choir items from Abba, Coldplay and the Beatles complementing our more traditional Male Voice choir pieces and very positively received. With three Young Musician ensembles playing vibrant sets including a 10-handed piano act, no one could say the evening lacked variety! Our talented Accompanist Yuan Styles showed in a virtuoso performance of Chopin that her concert pianist roots are truly an asset for the Orpheus and its audiences.
And what of the Orpheus image? The second half opened to the Choir resplendent in modern black shirt and blue bow tie combination, dispensing with the traditional blazers and ties that typify old-style Male choirs. For future concerts the addition of stylish waistcoats will complete the image makeover.
The overall success of the evening was very much down to teamwork, but special mention should be made of our indefatigable Musical Director Louise Langley who has not only honed the Choir’s musical delivery to its present high standard, but has also been driving the Choir modernising agenda in terms of its musical mix and visual appeal.
Orpheus Concert benefits SIM Charity in India - 25th March 2017
A return visit by the Orpheus to St Michael and All Angels Church in Beaconsfield was a big success, with a really upbeat concert, well attended by an audience in generous mood. Substantial funds were raised for Sharon International Ministries (SIM) to support a School in Rural India which provides free education for Very Poor Children who would otherwise not receive any schooling. Education is universally accepted as the way to improve their lives, and the Orpheus are pleased to have contributed yet again.
Worshipful Company of Carmen - 500th Anniversary Dinner, Tuesday 14th March at London's Mansion House
At the invitation of our Patron John Ratcliff, the Orpheus Choir arose from the balconies to become the “surprise entertainment act” at the 500th Anniversary Dinner of the Worshipful Company of Carmen held at London’s prestigious Mansion House. A packed hall presided over by this year’s Master, Marsha Rae Ratcliff, thrilled to the sudden appearance on the balconies of our Choir in full voice. Our repertoire included the lively Rhythm of Life, a Beatles Medley, and finally by special request Abba’s Thank You for the Music. This last piece had the guests joining in, with mobile phone lights waved at arms length, all encouraged by Louise Langley our Musical Director who ensured that the Choir did full justice to such an important occasion. Evidently all very much appreciated judging from the accolades received subsequently. The Choir thanks the Ratcliffs for inviting us to share in such an important event.
Len Dandridge Memorial Concert packs Christ Church Flackwell Heath - 18th February 2017
Held in memory of Chorister Len Dandridge, this has become something of an event locally in Flackwell Heath, Len's home village. A packed Church enjoyed the Orpheus on splendid form, and raised funds for the Dandridge family's chosen Charity, Rennie Grove Hospice at Home.