The Wycombe Philharmonic Choir has been singing in High Wycombe for 63 years. It was founded in 1944, as the Methodist Circuit Choir, at Westbourne Street Methodist Church, moving a year later to Wesley Methodist Church in Priory Road, where it still rehearses and performs regularly. The choir made its public debut with a performance of Handel’s Messiah, and has continued the tradition of performing major choral works up to the present day.
In its early years, the choir also provided an opportunity for singers from different local churches to join together to put on performances for special occasions including presentations of Gilbert and Sullivan, an annual carol festival and other musical events.
In 1951 the Civic Authorities asked the choir to arrange a concert in Wycombe Town Hall to celebrate the Festival of Britain. Other churches were invited to co-operate. This led to the choir becoming the Wycombe Free Church Choir, and part of the national Free Church Choir Union for many years, regularly taking part in National Choral Events at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Always a substantial mixed choir, the Free Church Choir soon developed a reputation for excellence under its Musical Director, Kenneth Fox, who led the choir from its early days until the 1970s when he handed over the baton to Denys Hood. Denys continued as Musical Director of the choir for some 30 years, managing its transformation into the Wycombe Philharmonic Choir, and encouraging an expansion of its repertoire to include folksongs, spirituals and light music as well as classical works. He retired in 2002.
The arrival of David Cooke, the current Musical Director, in 2003, has seen the choir’s reputation for high quality performances continue to grow, and we now welcome the many new Members who want to be part of this outstanding musical experience.