Morley Music Society – a brief history
On Thursday 27th May 1943, Mr Harry Hardy (later Sir Harry) chaired a meeting at which it was resolved ‘that a production of Merrie England (Concert Version) be given in Morley Town Hall on July 27th and 28th 1943’. Thus the seeds of the present Morley Music Society were sown.
This planned event arose out of a desire to help in the 21st Anniversary Effort of the Morley Medical Charities Fund, and at the same time brighten the lives of a war-weary community. Members of local church and chapel choirs, and other interested helpers, were drawn together to form a ‘scratch’ chorus.
The venture was a real success and provided the stimulus for a general meeting, on 23rd August 1943, at which the society was formally brought into being as ‘Morley Musical Society’. It was some years later, in 1971, that the name was changed to ‘Morley Music Society’.
In the society’s early years there were over 100 singing members and as many non-singing supporters. Concerts were held in a usually full Town Hall. In more recent years, in common with other choral and music societies, fortunes have fluctuated and numbers of members and audiences have generally fallen, but the society has for the most part been able to maintain its number of singing members at a healthy figure of around sixty. However, concert venues have had to change and, since as far back as the mid-sixties, churches, chapels and school halls have been used for performances. As for non-singing supporters, the society continues to enjoy the generous support of a long list of patrons.
Generally, three main concerts are given each year, consisting of works chosen from the whole range of the choral repertoire, from Vivaldi to Vaughan Williams and Bach to Bernstein. Consequently, over the seventy years, more than two hundred concerts and recitals have been presented, including a joint concert with Wakefield Festival Chorus at Wakefield Cathedral and two partnership concerts with Drighlington Band. In addition to its main concert programme the society has, over the years, included other recitals and special events in its activities.
A particular feature of more recent years has been the more varied choice of concert venue mentioned earlier. In addition to the society’s ‘base’, Central Methodist Church in Wesley Street, Morley, concerts have been performed at Morley Town Hall, St Peter’s Church and St Paul’s Church in Morley, the Morley Academy hall, Wakefield Cathedral, St Peter’s Church in Gildersome, St Andrew’s Church in Bruntcliffe and Holy Trinity Church in Meanwood, Leeds.
The society looks back over its seventy three years with some pride and looks to the future with confidence. It is proud of the part that it has played and continues to play in keeping high quality choral music alive in the area.
Presidents of the society:
Sir Harry Hardy (1943-1958)
Dr James Roche (1958-1966)
Mr J Ralph Carr (1966-1982)
Mr A Hugh Smith (1982-2007)
Councillor Bob Gettings (2007-2010)
Councillor Judith Elliott (2010-present)
Mrs Edna H Firth (1943-1963)
Mr Geoffrey Dunn (1963-2015)
(Mr Geoffrey Dunn was also Deputy from 1958-1963 and Organist from 1959-2015)
Mr Fred Butterfield and deputy Mr Jerry Pashley (1943-1949, honorary)
Dr Clifford W Towlson (1949-1957)
Dr Donald F Webster (1957-1963)
Mr David Bryan (1963-1970)
Mr Anthony Norcliffe (1970-1977)
Mr Richard Bloodworth (1977-1980)
Mr David Lennox (1980-1981)
Mr Howard Lorriman (1981-1982)
Ms Susan Wanless (1982-1987)
Mr Stephen Williams (1987-1990)
Miss Elisabeth Jill Wild (1990-1993)
Mr Sean Farrell (1993-1996)
Mr Christopher Rathbone (1996-2006)
Mr David Condry (2006-2013)
Mr Daniel Justin (2013-2015)
Mr Peter Condry (2015-present)