THAMESIDE CLARINET CHOIR
Choirs | Thameside's History
About Thameside's History
The Choir evolved from a course in Clarinet Playing taught
by Christopher Hooker at the Kingston Adult Education
Centre in 1972, and was formed in September 1973. Its
first concert was given on 15th May 1976 at the Church
of St John the Divine, New Malden, having changed its
name the previous year from the Kingston Adult Education
Centre Clarinet Choir to the Thameside Clarinet Choir.
In 1975 and subsequent years the Choir successfully entered
several classes in the Richmond upon Thames Music Festival.
The following year the Choir held the first of many residential
playing weekends at Little Benslow Hills, the home of
the Rural Music Schools Association at Hitchin, now the
Benslow Music Trust. These continued on a regular basis
for several years, occasionally running jointly with the
Goldsmith's College Clarinet Choir directed by Liz Lock.
Following a major change in work commitments in 1980,
Christopher left the Choir which continued as an evening
class for one more year, directed by Walter Wurzburger.
During this year rehearsals began to be held at the home
of Jo Ward, one of the members, and were conducted by
Gill Porter, the leader of the Choir. These players were
known as the 'Thursday Group'.
Gill moved to Devon in 1983 and Peter Morris took over.
In 1985, Peter introduced the Playing Days, a tradition
which continues to the present time. Throughout the 80's
and 90's, Martin and Jenny Goodman produced countless
arrangements for us. We are also indebted to Michael Bryant
for providing us with so many interesting compositions
from all over the world.
Jo moved house and the group began to meet at Ann Varah's
house in Surbiton. Tragically, Ann Varah died in 1997,
but her husband, David, wished the group to continue playing
there, which it did up until it moved to to the Malden
Centre in September 1999.
In 1991 the choir was joined by John
Ainsworth and when, later that year, Martin and Jenny
Goodman needed time to cope with Martin's failing eyesight,
John took over the administration of the choir, and the
playdays, and continued to do this until 1999. In 1997
the playday venue at Southlands College, Wimbledon, was
re-developed and John and Peter Morris negotiated the
change to the Gateway Studios in Kingston University.
In 1999 the administration of the choir was taken over
by Sophie McLoughlin, Liz Pope and Barbara Haynes.
In December 1998, after a long and rewarding
time with the Choir, Peter Morris left. Now began the
Choir's relationship with Kneller Hall as the next three
conductors were all student bandmasters. The first, Simon
Haw, became conductor in January 1999.
The next Kneller Hall musician to conduct the Choir was
Stewart (Doc) Halliday who took over in January 2000 until,
like Simon, a new posting forced his retirement. Greg
Machin, another Kneller colleague succeeded him and remained
until December 2002.
Christopher Hooker, who had rejoined the choir as a player
two years previously, was then invited to conduct, and
took up the appointment in January 2003. Over the next
four years he produced many new arrangements for the Choir.
In September 2003 the Choir moved its rehearsal venue
from the Malden Centre to St John's Church in Kingston
Road, New Malden. In 2006, it started giving public concerts
and has performed in St James's Church, Hampton Hill,
and the YMCA Hawker Centre in Ham. Chris Hooker retired
from the Choir in December 2007 to concentrate more on
playing and performing.
Martin Hinckley, who joined the choir as a player in 2005,
succeeded Chris in 2007. The rehearsal venue was moved
to Christ Church New Malden C of E Primary School in New
Malden, Surrey and the venue for the playdays was moved
to King George's Hall, Esher, both in 2010. Around that
time the Choir started entertaining the pensioners at
the Royal Star & Garter Home in Richmond by performing
afternoon concerts and also put on regular charity concerts
for the Greenwood Centre, Hampton Hill. Martin added several
new compositions and arrangements to the TCC's growing
repertoire and the Choir grew in numbers and standard
Martin retired from being the Musical Director at the
end of 2014 but continued playing in the group on a variety
of instruments. Starting a new venture in 2015, Victor
Kee and Jake Muffet, already performing members, started
sharing the position but could not continue this for a
variety of reasons. Consequently in September 2016, Martin
took up the reins again.