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Patrick McCarthy has been a notable figure on the local area musical scene for over twenty years

He was trained as a singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the London Opera Centre. His operatic and singing career has taken him all over the British Isles and Europe. Music lovers may remember his dramatic rescue of a Prom performance of Carmina Burana back in 1974.

He is currently Musical Director of the Dovercourt Choral Society the Colchester and Ipswich Bach Choirs, the Colchester Philharmonic and the Ipswich Chamber Orchestras, the Harwich Festival and, of course, the Witham Choral Society. He was for a time also conductor of the Clare and Maldon Choral Societies.He has conducted many of the major choral works with the WCS amongst them repertoire such as Sir Arthur Sullivan's Festival Te Deum (available on CD), Haydn's Creation and Te Deum, Bach's St. Matthew and St. John Passions, and the less traditional Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. Patrick has also guest-conducted the Essex Symphony Orchestra.

In the 2004/2005 season with WCS he conducted Elgar's Caractacus. This rarely performed work was a considerable challenge to both choir and orchestra and was sponsored and supported by The Elgar Society. The performance was much appreciated by those members of the Society who attended and received enthusiastic reviews from local press.

A highlight of 2006 was a concert at the renowned Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Aldeburgh, where Patrick conducted the combined forces of the Witham Choral Society, the Ipswich Bach Choir and the Colchester Philharmonic in a memorable performance of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius where it was reported that the choirs were truly magnificent and the success of the production was surely down to Patrick McCarthy. Local press review.

Patrick McCarthy - Musical Director (read more at the foot of this page)

Patrick McCarthy

We are delighted to announce our Accompanist for the Spring Term of 2022, as Ashley Thompson.

Ashley is an experienced, ALCM-qualified repetiteur, who currently acts as Accompanist to Anglia Singers (Chelmsford) and Gale Singers (Dagenham.) Additionally he has previously played for Maldon, Ingatestone and Billericay Choral Societies, as well as Canvey Island Community Choir, Essex Police Music Society, Eastwood Chorale, United Singers (Hornchurch), Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society and Billericay Operatic and Dramatic Society.

Ashley is also Director of Music to Maldon Choral Society and The Triple H Community Choir, which serves Hockley, Hawkwell and Hullbridge in South Essex.

More exciting news soon about Ashley and the future of the choir!

Tony Mortimer  BA(Hons), Dip Mus, L.G.S.M., A.R.C.M.  

After completing his music education in London and Birmingham, studying piano and organ, Tony embarked on a teaching career, becoming Head of music in several large Secondary Schools in East Anglia and Director of one of the first Performing Arts Colleges in Essex.
With his keen interest in musical theatre, Tony has directed many stage shows involving young people, and has written and published musicals designed for schools and youth theatres.
In addition to his role as rehearsal pianist for Witham Choral Society and piano teaching, he works extensively as a soloist and accompanist in a wide variety of musical genres, including jazz, theatre, chamber music and church services.



Chairman Stephen Northfield Tel:01245 380958 srnorthfield@aol.com

Ashley Thompson, our new accompanist for spring term 2022

Ashley Thompson, accompanist for spring term 2022

Tony Mortimer 1946-2021 We were sad to share with you all in 2021, the news of the loss of our dearest friend and accompanist, Tony Mortimer last summer. He is greatly missed and fondly remembered for his great humour and skill.

A humorous moment shared between Patrick and Tony, good friends and colleagues.

In 2015 we celebrated 20 years with Patrick at the helm. Photographs (below) taken at Witham Public Hall as Patrick celebrated 20 years of conducting the choir, including this lovely cake.

How Patrick helped out at a performance of Carmina Burana:

Patrick was in the audience at the Proms when baritone Thomas Allen collapsed (my mum remembers seeing it on television and thinking how brave that young man was to just step up and sing as he did). An excerpt follows (with permission of the Royal Albert Hall).

You can see pictures of Patrick by looking at the Royal Albert Hall Website. Type into your search engine the following or click on the link http://www.royalalberthall.com/about-the-hall/news/2014/august/how-i-saved-a-prom-patrick-mccarthys-famous-proms-rescue-of-7-august-1974/ enjoy taking a look!

Patrick writes:
It was a warm evening and as the concert was being telerecorded the TV lights were on. The rest is history. Allen collapsed at the end of his second solo, tried to recover for his third but collapsed again and was taken from the stage. Fellow Prommers urged me to check backstage whether the BBC had a substitute lined up – they didn’t and I was shoved onto the stage in a borrowed dinner jacket._

Conductor André Previn wondered whether I was the bringer of bad tidings but was relieved to see me clutching the score. I sang the final four baritone numbers (pretty well – I have a tape to prove it!), received an enormous ovation and retired to the pub with my friends. As a young professional I felt I only did what I was trained to do but the following day I become headline news with newspaper articles, radio and TV interviews and great interest in the forthcoming broadcast.

My mum was at home in Brighton listening to the live broadcast of the concert on the radio and was amazed to recognise my voice over the air. Ironically it turned out that the one other member of the London Symphony Chorus who knew the baritone role was a doctor and had to attend to Tom Allen and was therefore unable to take over!

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