ACS had its origins in the summer of 1973 when a few friends were persuaded to revive the traditional Christmas Messiah in Atherstone, North Warwickshire. An advertisement brought together fifty singers keen to take part and the project began from there. Autumn rehearsals led to a successful performance of Handel's much loved oratorio on 27th November in St. Mary's Church, Atherstone. Many of those involved wished to build on this experience and to form a permanent singing group.

The records show that Atherstone Choral Society came formally into being on 25th February 1974 at a meeting held at the United Reformed Church, Atherstone (closed in 1985) and attended by sixty or so enthusiasts. It was chaired by Dr John Stewart who became the first Chairman of the Society.

    Bernard Powell (BMUS) was appointed Musical Director and Ernest Wilkinson,
    a well respe
cted and gifted organist, became the first accompanist. The first public
    performance was given at the Grendon Church Flower Festival on 12th July 1974.

   Bernard Powell

The wisdom of Bernard Powell's appointment was immediately apparent. For sixteen years he was the inspirational disciplinarian who enabled ACS to become one of the largest and best amateur choirs in the land. Bernard was also a skilled arranger of music and many of his pieces are in use today. Loved and feared in equal measure, this talented leader took the 140 strong choir to peaks of performance in North Warwickshire, around Britain and abroad, singing the greatest of choral works in the most prestigious concert venues including several visits to the Albert Hall, even appearing on TV!

Keith Smith (B.A, MMUS, ARCM, LGSM) was born in Leicestershire. He had early
success as a singer and then began to study both violin and piano.  Following
teaching posts in
Leicestershire and Oxfordshire, he was appointed Conductor
of the Southampton Youth Orchestra, a position he held for 25 years. In addition,
for many years he held prestigious conducting appointments with both Leicester
Symphony Orchestra and the Leic
ester Philharmonic Choir. He has conducted a
number of
major orchestra at home and abroad and his career has taken him all
over Europe, to America, Canada and China.
Keith Smith joined Atherstone Choral Society in 1990 and was influential in
the further development of the choir.                                                                                       Keith Smith

Peter Heming (MVO), Conductor, composer and arranger was born in Nottingham and studied composition and conducting  at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Since 1996 he has conducted at the Ambassadors theatre, Woking, the Guildhall, Porstmouth and at Guildford Cathedral with The London Mozart Orchestra, chorus and soloists. Peter has toured Japan and the East Coast of America with the Montovani Orchestra and chorus and recorded two CD albums with them.
Peter also has associations with the Royal Choral Society and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra and has written arrangements for them. Peter is currently (2011) Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the London Show Orchestra which he formed. He joined Atherstone Choral Society in 1993 and made a valuable contribution to the choir.

       Peter Heming

In 1995 Lt. Col. (Ret'd) P R Evans (FVCM Hon's, LTCL, AMUS LCM, PSM, RE) was
appointed as Musical Director. Phil Evans had a distinguished musical career in the
British Army. As a young soldier he was one of the Royal Trumpeters at Caernarvon
for the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales. At retirement he
was Director of Music,
Band of the Corp
s of Royal Engineers and the Army's senior musician.       

                                                                                                                                                            Phil Evans

Phil had worked with Bernard Powell and ACS in concert on a number of occasions and was so impressed with the quality of the choir and with the range of its music that he travelled weekly from Kent for the next 12 years. Under his baton ACS continued to perform the mix of classical and popular music that has become its hallmark and to appear in halls large and small around the country. Notable events included a number of successful charity concerts, the first ever mixed choir to sing at the Shrewsbury Flower Show (with massed Military Bands, cannon and fireworks!) and the British Legion's Midlands Festival of Remembrance at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

It was in 2008 that our present Musical Director Kevin Gill was appointed. Please see the 'Home' page for more details not only of Kevin Gill but also of our Accompanist Robert (Bob) Ramskill.

It is our hope that the people of Atherstone, North Warwickshire and others further afield will continue to support ACS for many years to come.

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