New Members Wanted!

Do you enjoy singing?


Would you like to join our friendly choir?

Malmesbury Singers are always on the lookout for new members to join its 70-strong mixed voice classical choir.  

We offer a 50% discount on subscriptions for members under the age of 25.

We rehearse on Monday evenings in Malmesbury Abbey and perform two concerts a year with professional soloists and musicians, as well as holding informal summer singing sessions, singing days and social events.

Come and join us in Malmesbury Abbey on Monday evenings from 7.30pm! Our term resumed on Monday 7th January but if you are keen and an experienced singer, we would be pleased to hear from you. Please use the contact link below to get in touch!

New Joke

A little ditty, read out at our Choir’s “party” just before Christmas 2017:

The Musical Director faces quite a simple task:
To get a choir to sing – that surely isn’t much to ask!
In rehearsals all he has to do is walk around and shout,
And in concerts merely stand in front and wave his arms about.

Despite these perks the fellow can get noticeably stroppy,
Just because he spots the odd face buried in a copy.
The poor old chap shows all the signs of clinical depression.
He bellows, “Never mind the notes! Please give me some expression!”

So we singers try to help him – give him everything we’ve got –
Which, admittedly, it must be said, is, frankly, not a lot.
We take a breath and hope the sound that issues from our throat
Is something fairly well in time, and somewhere near the note.

But, by the concert, everything’s been carefully refined,
Each subtlety of emphasis been duly underlined.
We build up the crescendo to that wondrous final chord
Whose magical precision makes the audience applaud,
And we all get there together, though God knows how we do –
Sopranos, altos, tenors – and the basses get there too –
Just half a bar behind.

© Barry Weedon 2010

With kind thanks to the East Surrey Choral Society from whence it was “borrowed”.

Visit to Sweden 23-27 May 2014

31 members of the Malmesbury Singers and their conductor Iain Duffin and accompanist John Hughes had a fantastic visit to Västerås in Sweden over the late May Bank Holiday, visiting ABB Kören!

We had a varied concert including songs from around the British Isles (and a couple from the USA) and more or less repeated our concert from Tetbury twice more.  We sang in Fryxellska school in temperatures of over 25 degrees celsius – both with ABB choir and separately; we sang again in the church at Sätra Brunn, a place which houses an old and new spa.  

Much mirth and jollities took place with parties and barbecues. Our hosts took utmost care of us and we have made new friends and renewed old friendships, with a promise to continue our connections!


According to founder members of the choir, Malmesbury Singers began in September 1961 with Miss Margaret Crallan as conductor, under the auspices of the Rural Music School. In September 1964 it became a mixed choir. Following the departure of Miss Crallan, John Hughes took over the mantle of leadership for a number of years. Iain Duffin subsequently took over in 1991 as conductor and musical director. John Hughes returned a couple of years later to be our accompanist.

Malmesbury Singers originally held rehearsals in Malmesbury Upper School, but they are now held in Malmesbury Abbey.

Approximately 60 – 70 singers make up the Malmesbury Singers, coming from about a 25 mile radius of Malmesbury. We usually put on at least two concerts a year, although we do occasionally put on a light summer concert.

See “Past Concerts” for details of our previous works which encompass many varied works including home grown creations “Hannah and the Tyger” and “Eilmer” (performed for a second time in December 2010) to major choral works such as Verdi’s Requiem (April 2011) and Haydn’s Creation. Rehearsals are informal, enjoyable and educational.

New members are always welcome – particularly male voices! There is usually a short voice appraisal – however this is very informal and you just need to bring a short piece to sing. Click the “Contact Us” link on the left to join and send a quick message.

Photo by Robert Peel, 2016

Choir Joke

A Choristers’ Guide To Keeping Conductors In Line

The basic training of every singer should, of course, include myriad types of practical and theoretical emphases. One important area which is often neglected, however, is the art of one-upmanship. The following rules are intended as guides to the development of habits which will promote the proper type of relationship between singer and conductor.

1. Never be satisfied with the starting pitch. If the conductor uses a pitch-pipe, make known your preference for pitches from the piano and vice-versa.

2. Complain about the temperature of the rehearsal room, the lighting, crowded space, and of a draft. It’s best to do this when the conductor is under pressure.

3. Bury your head in the music just before cues.

4. Ask for a re-audition or seating change. Ask often. Give the impression you’re about to quit. Let the conductor know you’re there as a personal favour.

5. Loudly clear your throat during pauses (tenors are trained to do this from birth). Quiet instrumental interludes are a good chance to blow your nose.

6. Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not singing at the time.

7. At dramatic moments in the music (which the conductor is emoting), be busy marking your music so that the climaxes will sound empty and disappointing.

8. Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know that you don’t have the music.

9. Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.

10. When possible, sing your part either an octave above or below what is written. This is excellent ear-training for the conductor. If he hears the pitch, deny it vehemently and claim that it must have been the combination tone.

11. Tell the conductor, “I can’t find the beat.” Conductors are always sensitive about their “stick technique” so challenge it frequently.

12. If you are singing in a language with which the conductor is the least bit unfamiliar, ask her as many questions as possible about the meaning of individual words. If this fails, ask her about the pronunciation of the most difficult words. Occasionally, say the word twice and ask her preference, making to say it exactly the same both times. If she remarks on their similarity, give her a look of utter disdain and mumble under your breath about the “subtleties of inflection”.

13. Ask the conductor if he has listened to the von Karajan recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask, “Is this the first time you’ve conducted this piece?”

14. If your articulation differs from that of others singing the same phrase, stick to your guns. Do not ask the conductor which is correct until backstage just before the concert.

15. Find an excuse to leave the rehearsal about 15 minutes early so that others will become restless and start to fidget.

Make every effort to take the attention away from the podium and put it on you, where it belongs!


Eilmer! (Hughes & Scanlon) – December 2010

In December 2010 The Malmesbury Singers sang some traditional Christmas music and carols in a lead up to the performance of the “home-grown” Eilmer! Composed by John Hughes, libretto by Mike Scanlon.

Complete details as follows:

Eilmer (Hughes & Scanlon)

Introducing: Oscar Manners as “Young Eilmer”
Richard Oxley – Eilmer
Adrian Johnson – Abbot
Jane Henderson – Abbess
Dick Jowitt – A Monk
Tony Royle – A Drunk
Megan Mills – A Drunk
Colin Woodfield – Narrator

Conductor: Iain Duffin
Accompanist: John Hughes

Harry Smith – Violin
Julia Poynton – Flute
Julia Smith – Cello
Janet Barton – Organ
John Hughes – Keyboard
Percussionist – Megan Mills
Kathy Wyatt – Eilmer drawing

The last performance of Eilmer took place in March 2001 amid cries of “when can we hear it again!” It tells the story of a monk named Eilmer who was allegedly the first human to attempt flight using some home-made wings, back in 1010 AD.

Please click here for a write up by Chris Jager following the premiere of “Eilmer” in March 2001. (a new window will open, just click the close button to return to this page).

Hannah & the Tyger


Christmas 2006 saw the production of Hannah & The Tyger being performed for the very first time in history. A piece composed by the ever-talented, perfectly pitched John Hughes, together with his colleague Mike Scanlon who brought forth the libretto.

Complete details as follows:


(in order of appearance)

The Tyger – Adrian Jones
A Priest – Michael Harris
Hannah – Rosie Archer
The Ringmaster – Richard Oxley
A Fortune Teller – Jane Henderson
Malmesbury Characters – Margaret Greenwood;
Kate James; Brian Cook; Neil Archer
Eilmer (yes really!) – Dick Jowitt
Piano – John Hughes
Violin – Harry Smith
Flute – Julia Poynton
Narrator – Colin Woodfield

The Crowd (Chorus) – The Malmesbury Singers and members of the Malmesbury Abbey Choir;

Interspersed with a narrator who kept the story flowing, the tale told of a circus coming to town complete with resident tiger. The circus made camp in the gardens of the White Lion Inn, where Hannah Twynnoy worked as a barmaid. Unable to resist the temptation of stroking the tiger in between inn keeping, this ultimately led to her downfall. See Hannah Twynnoy for more details.

Also see local news.