In December 1963 a group of singers in Kemsing, conducted by Thomas Denyer, got together to perform a Christmas concert. It was such a success that they decided to meet and sing on a regular basis, and in 1964 Kemsing Singers was born: a choir which enjoys singing not just major choral works but also opera, tunes from the shows, folk songs, even rock and pop classics – something, in fact, for everyone. Throughout 2024 the choir will be looking back in its concerts over six decades of ‘fun and fine singing’, reprising some of the things they’ve most enjoyed in the past and remembering those who have directed and encouraged them along the way.
NOTE: this page will be updated and added to throughout 2024, so be sure to bookmark it and come back!
1967 WE SANG AT THE SEVENOAKS FESTIVAL
From the beginning the choir gave at least two concerts a year, in the spring and at Christmas, in St Edith Hall in Kemsing - something it does to this day. In the first few years the choir also sang at numerous other venues, including: St Mary's Church Kemsing, at Dorton House in Seal, at churches in Otford, Sevenoaks, Chelsfield and at Combe Bank Convent in Sundridge.
1976 - A CHANGE OF CONDUCTOR
In May 1976 Tom Denyer, the choir's founder and chairman since 1964, conducted his last concert - "a fun evening of music on a nautical theme", culminating in some of the best loved pieces from Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. He was replaced as conductor by Christopher Knox-Johnston, who had been his assistant for two years. Tom was to remain closely involved in the choir, but from now on as a singer. And KJ, as he came to be known by the choir, was to lead it for over 25 years.
1979: WE MADE A RECORD!
In 1979 the choir recorded Kemsing Carols, accompanied by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and featuring work specially written by choir member Peter Skellern, a musician of international repute. While you might now struggle to find a copy of the album, its carols have remained a key part of the choir’s Christmas repertoire, and “Were You There?”, was performed at the choir’s 2023 Celebration of Christmas concert.
1980: WE WERE ON TELEVISION!
In 1980 the choir sung Peter Skellern's King Henry's Ayr in the Great Hall at Penshurst Place, The performance was filmed by BBC2 as part of a six-part series about the composer.
© Kemsing Singers 2024