History of the Choir
The West Somerset
Singers is a mixed voice adult choir founded in 1945 by Arthur Temple,
head of music at Taunton School.
The intention was for the choir to perform unusual works in contrast
to Taunton Choral Society. At this time the choir had twenty four
singers drawn mostly from the music staff of local schools and concentrated
on cameo, unusual and frequently modern works.
Arthur Temple’s friend, the baritone Henry Cummings, became
Patron and joined the choir in both religious and secular works.
The great Soprano, Isobel Baillie, was also a soloist in those days
and works such as E.J. Moerans ‘Songs of Springtime’
and Malcolm Sargent’s ‘The Second Cruxifixion’
appeared in the programmes.
Arthur Temple conducted the choir for the first fifteen years or
so handing over to the leading soprano, Elizabeth Rowe. Three years
later, the remarkable Bob Tullett, the musical director at Bishop
Fox’s School, took on the baton. He coached the choir to success
at Bath Music Festival.
Over the years the choir has seen a few changes in conductor including
Chris Banks, Richard Barrell and Dawn Lankester but Arthur Temple’s
original concept of performing little known works has largely been
In 1994 the choir became a registered charity. Its Committee is
elected annually at the AGM and comprises Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer,
NFMS representative and not more than six other members including
a librarian and publicity manager.
The West Somerset Singers celebrated their Diamond Jubilee in December
2005 with a concert at St Mary Magdalene Church, Taunton, with a
repertoire including Charpentier ‘Midnight Mass’ , Buxtehude
‘The Newborn Infant’ and Vivaldi ‘Gloria’.
Choir numbers have fluctuated but currently are close to thirty.
Rehearsals take place on Monday evenings at Taunton School for two
terms of 12-13 weeks for concerts in April or early May and December,
usually in one of the larger Taunton churches.