The 70s

The idea of a town choir in Hartlepool was first suggested in 1969 by Christopher Simmons, who was the choir’s Musical Director from 1970 until December 2004. With support from Peter Haughton, the then Hartlepool Music Advisor, and Bob Steel, the then Youth Organiser for Hartlepool, funding was secured, advertisements were placed and the first auditionees arrived in the Park Road Music Centre.

In 1970 the choir was invited to take part in an American/Canadian Youth Exchange Programme. Back in 1970 the idea of a trip to America was completely unheard of, and the choir began the mammoth task of raising the £8500 required for the trip. The first concert of the tour was in Ottawa at a purpose built amphitheatre. The audience of 1400 included the British High Commissioner and the French Ambassador, and was broadcast on TV to millions of Canadians. The concert brought the house down and the British High Commissioner invited the choir to tea the next day.

Over the next few years the choir developed from being an SSAA (soprano, soprano, alto, alto) choir through SAB (soprano, alto, bass) to SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass).

In 1974 the choir toured to Holland and Belgium and later in 1976 as a then established SATB choir to Denmark. During the summer of 1977 the choir had the honour of being asked to sing for Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at the official opening of the Hartlepool Civic Centre. Later in 1977 the choir was invited to be the British Representative at the Annual Christmas Choir Assembly on Christmas Eve in Manger Square, Bethlehem.

The outward flight was delayed awaiting the arrival of Mr Begin the Israeli Prime Minister, who was in London to meet Jim Callaghan, the then British Prime Minister. During the flight to Tel Aviv he met several choir members, and was presented with a choir badge as a memento.

1978 was the year in which the choir recorded their first LP, “By Special Request”. This was followed in 1979 by an LP of Christmas music – “In Dulci Jubilo”.

In 1979 the choir made its debut at the International Choral Competition in Celje, in the former Yugoslavia, and came away with the bronze medal.

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