Musical Society stalwarts honoured for 120 years’s service

NEARLY 120 years of dedicated and outstanding service from two Saddleworth Musical Society members was celebrated at a special event last month.

Sylvia Hoare, now in her late 80s, was one of the founder members of the Society in 1958 and only retired as their accompanist earlier this year.

Donald speaks at the special event, while Sylvia watches on, supported by Duncan Rhodes (president of SMS)

Donald Clarke first performed with the Society 1961, then was leader of the orchestra from 1972 until December 2016 when he retired.

To celebrate their achievements and commitments, a special concert and supper was held at Delph Theatre in April, with highlights from the pair’s time there.

A special thanks and awards were presented to Donald and Sylvia by Rev Duncan Rhodes, current President of the Society.

The society said: “Sylvia has played more than 9,000 hours at concerts, shows and rehearsals, always on a voluntary basis.

“This unbroken voluntary continuity is a truly remarkable achievement and commitment.

“When the Society was established, Sylvia worked alongside Musical Director Barrie Williams to establish an annual programme consisting of a Choral Spring Concert, a Christmas Carol Concert and a musical show.

Donald and Sylvia in a special performance

“Sylvia has been an irreplaceable part of productions and she is unique for her longevity and ability.

“She is the only member who came to almost every rehearsal for both principal and full cast and she worked from the minute she sat down to the moment she went home.

“In addition, she had to do hours of homework each week to prepare for the next rehearsal. Sylvia’s contribution to a show required considerable dedication, time, and loyalty.”

Sylvia was also the long-standing accompanist for Saddleworth Male Voice Choir and she even found time to share her skills and expertise with students at the Oldham Music Centre.

Meanwhile, violinist Donald has performed in hundreds of concerts for a huge range of societies in Greater Manchester and further afield over the many years.

He said: “I think one of the highlights for me with SMS was the performance of Gerontious in 1983 with Janet Baker, Neil Jenkins and Michael Rippon as soloists and Barrie Williams as conductor.

“Throughout my long and happy association with SMS I have always looked forward to the annual show which in past years always used to be a G&S performance.

“It has been a great pleasure to play under a number of conductors, in particular Barrie Williams and Harry Butterworth who have between them been with the Society for more than 50 years and have given so much time and effort and enjoyment to audiences.”

 

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