For their Millennium project and following three years of research, Stroud Choral Society has published ‘Stroud Sings’, a social and musical history from 1834 to 2000. Written by two members, Sue Freck and Sue Edwards, ‘Stroud Sings’, 176 pages, 80,000 words and 90 illustrations, is available through members of the Society - price £5 plus p&p or by contacting us.
The book can also be purchased at Stroud Choral Society concerts and the Stroud Book Shop in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
‘Stroud Sings’ is also available as a floppy disk for use with Word 6 or Rich Text programmes for the visually impaired, £8 p&p free. To purchase 'Stroud Sings' on floppy disk please contact us.
Review of 'Stroud Sings: The History of Stroud Choral Society, 1834-2000'
by Susan Freck Reviewer: Lucille Reilly, PO Box 7338, Denver, Colorado, USA; TheDulcimerLady@juno.com
The cause of music history is served all the better by this volume covering the formation, growth, trials and performances of the Stroud Choral Society, one of England’s oldest choral traditions founded in the unlikely setting of an industrial city quite some distance from London’s impressive cultural center. This reader was immediately struck by the book’s layout. Care was taken in the typesetting to make the wide copy block on its large pages easy to read, inviting the reader within its contents. And oh, the contents! This well-researched book includes a bit of everything: history, politics, mystery, scandal, underlying choir-member grumblings (ah, some things never change), humor, performance rosters, etc. This reviewer’s favorite stories include those of the “Ex-impresario” who wrote a 2,500-word essay to the “Stroud Journal” concerning the choice of soloists for an 1868 performance of Elijah, the loss (possibly theft) of a beloved conductor’s baton (which has only been recently recovered after simply being carefully put away and forgotten, much to the joy of the SCS—perhaps bringing about an updated second edition in the future?), and the space requirements of the performance hall deeming it necessary that half the choir perform with their backs to the audience. But perhaps the most impressive fact is that of the local merchants closing early on a performance night in order to allow their employees to attend. If only such priorities existed today! Also fascinating is how the lives of certain great composers and musicians on the choral-music scene have woven themselves into the fabric of SCS’s history, thus providing connections for even the newest choral singer. They include, but are not limited to, Hubert Parry, Sir Edward Elgar, Harold Watkins Shaw, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The only point needing clarification, particularly to non-British readers wanting a glimpse of this sector of choral-music history in the UK, is the lack of written-out abbreviations. The author assumes everyone knows what AGM and MBE stand for, but this American reader remains clueless. Had abbreviations been written in full the first time they appear in each chapter, the story line would have been that much easier to follow. 'Stroud Sings' is liberally peppered with photos, and the older use of language represented in numerous quotes is a delight, and there is a generous index. It’s a good read, and a fascinating history demonstrating that, wherever choirs reside, they are in many ways the same. Let’s all hope the Stroud Choral Society lives on for many more years to come! Lucille Reilly