Choir still fabulous at 40

Choir still fabulous at 40
Paddock Wood Choral Society

When Graham Dibbens became Head of Music at Mascalls School in Paddock Wood towards the end of 1979 he was given a special remit: to get the local community involved in music making.

One thing that came out of that was him forming the Paddock Wood Choral Group out of the members of an adult education evening class. Just a few months later, in March 1980, the group put on a show at Mascalls School entitled A Musical Evening, where they performed three motets. 

Shortly after this the Paddock Wood Choral Society (PWCS) was formed, and held its first concert on June 14 at St. Andrew’s Church in Paddock Wood. 

“The concert began with a performance of the three motets which had been sung in March,” explains a PWCS spokesperson. 

“Graham Dibbens was also Conductor of the Pembury Chamber Orchestra, and the concert continued with a performance of Haydn’s Symphony No 9 in C Major and the concert finale was a performance of Faure’s Requiem. Later in December that year the Society performed Handel’s Messiah.”

Since its establishment the PWCS has seen a number of different musical directors. “Once Graham Dibbens had stepped down Tony Starr took over,” continues the society’s spokesperson. “His tenure was followed by Gareth Stubberfield, and then by Adrian Pitts, who was with the Choral Society for ten years.

“Kevin Ashman has been the Music Director since 2016, and is a very well-respected Kent based musician, and known as a superb trumpeter.”

Every year sees PWCS growing in reputation and membership. “It really has gone from strength to strength. This year we were due to be celebrating our 40th Anniversary with a special concert entitled ‘An evening with Handel’, but the special concert which was due to take place this coming Saturday (March 21) at 7.30pm at St. Andrew’s Church in Paddock Wood has since been cancelled due to the coronavirus. The choir had been due to perform three works by Handel: Dixit Dominus, Dettingen Te Deum, and the Coronation anthem The King Shall Rejoice, but given the Government’s newly-introduced ‘social distancing’ measures, which include a ban on mass gatherings, the concert has been cancelled.

A note on the society’s website reads: “Our concert on 21 March ‘An evening with Handel’ has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.”  If you bought tickets via ticket source, please seek your refund from that site.  If you bought tickets via one of our members, please return the ticket to them for a refund.”

Usually PWCS performs three concerts a year, in December, March and June, where all areas of musical genres from Renaissance to pop are covered. Its Christmas concert usually features one or two main works plus carols for choir and audience to sing along with.

“For the spring concert the choir performs more serious choral works, engages professional soloists and is usually accompanied by The Henham Chamber Orchestra. The summer concert is in lighter vein: our June 2019 concert was entitled Music from Stage and Screen, with special guests the Kent Police Band.”

For now, PWCS events will be on hold, but should you wish to access more information on the musical group please contact Secretary, Adrienne Bishop on 0189 833232, email or visit  

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