The Burford Singers were formed around 1960, first of all as a group of three female voices singing folk songs at a garden party. In the 1960s there were around a dozen members, and rehearsals were held in members’ living rooms, with John Tayler as conductor.
As numbers grew, Warren Green took over as conductor in 1973, followed by Megan Smith from 1975 to 1978. Stephen Banfield (now Stanley Hugh Badock Professor of Music at Bristol University) followed Megan, and a lively series of concerts and other events ensued, including an appearance on BBC TV’s Sunday Worship in July 1979 the Burford Singers appeared live on BBC TV in the Sunday Worship series. In 1980 Joyce Lang became conductor and introduced the choir (now with around twenty members) to Duruflé, Poulenc and Saint-Saens.
When Brian Etheridge took over as conductor in 1986, he recruited more members so that the choir could tackle major choral works, and the current pattern was established of three concerts each year. Membership grew to 80-plus and standards rose once more. As the owner of the Gallery in the High Street, Brian was literally at the heart of Burford and contributed enormously by organising not only ‘normal’ concerts but shows such as Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, and My Fair Lady.
On his retirement in 2002, he invited Brian Kay to become his successor and since then the choir has continued to grow in numbers and popularity. A special focus has been the encouragement of young singers, by offering free membership of the choir. We have also performed with the Cotswold Children’s Choir (now the Cotswold Youth Choirs).