Mass sing Hebden Bridge 2002

The choir began in the autumn of 1994 as a WEA class with Kate Howard as ‘tutor’: she’d already been running a women’s choir in Hebden Bridge, and one or two people suggested a mixed one might attract a few people.

In the early days the group was peripatetic, meeting in Central Street School, Riverside Junior School, and even Nelson’s Wine Bar and above the Trades Club (though the hassle from competing music rehearsals below was soon too much), before settling on the central Methodist Church Hall.

Kate Howard would be the leader of the choir till 2006, but with intermittent breaks. For a while in the 90’s she worked in the USA and Tracey Gummow got involved, as she would be for a number of years. Then in the 2000’s Kate moved to Scotland, but kept coming back, sometimes with a babe-in-arms, until Helen Lyle finally took over.

It was on a residential weekend in 2000 at Rydal in the Lakes that the name ‘Calder Valley Voices’ finally stuck, after some years under other names, notably ‘Raised Voices’. That was the year Andrew Bibby wrote a constitution and the choir decided to free itself of the WEA and run its own affairs.

In 2002 we hosted the Streetchoirs festival in Hebden Bridge. Here’s a separate page devoted to that.

All through its life the choir has done more than just meet weekly. There’ve been many weekends in the Lakes or Kirby Stephen; Jacob’s Join meals with everyone bringing something and much carousing; annual concerts and other events in Hebden Bridge; attendance at ‘Raise your banners’ and Streetchoirs festivals around the country; and in 2001/2, the recording of a couple of CD’s.

We’re keeping a more systematic record now. Here are some events from 2010, here are some events from 2009, and here are some from 2008.

And here are one member’s pictures: Gwyneth Morgan’s Flickr site.

Nearly 30 of us went to Whitby at the beginning of July, to join in the 27th National Street Choir Festival

Whitby Street Choirs 2009

Here’s what some people said about the weekend and about our singing:

“You were Wonderful! both busking but especially the concert and most especially ‘Joy of Living’ – I hope you received some of the glowing feedback from the audience which was all around.”
Helen (our MD)

“I heard your performance at Whitby folk festival of the song by Ewan MacColl – it brought myself, and other members of Red Leicester Choir to tears.”
Christina (Red Leicester Choir Member)

Just a short e-mail to congratulate you on quite the most moving version I have heard of “The Joy of Living” … it was wonderful to hear what I regard as the most profound of all [Ewan MacColl’s] songs given such a sensitive treatment.
Ian (Caedmon Choir Member)


Summer concert 2008


On the streets of Brighton at the Streetchoirs festival, summer 2008


Opening the ‘World on our doorstep’ festival Hebden Bridge, summer 2008: we should have been on stage but the roof had caved in, fortunately before we performed.