Members of the Choir

Barry RocheBass

After a lifetime spent in the electronics and music industry, including 42 years of Sound Engineering, and retirement looming, I was very fortunate that Nick Cabot gave me a chance to sing with the Harmony Men.

This led to singing lessons with Hugh Lincé who tried to discipline my errant timing but also taught me to breathe properly! I concentrate now on diction and voice quality.

Some friends that I made on the Highlands Jazz Singing Course asked if I’d help to carry on with the singing on Tuesday afternoons which soon culminated with the formation of SwingStyle, now an 8 piece using backing music. SwingStyle is now in its’ 9th year.

In 2006 the invitation came to  sing Messiah choruses with the Festival Choir and I was hooked! Singing as a Bass with this magnificent choir is a joy and a privilege. I enjoy learning the inner complexities of great works and working under our choral leaders and visiting conductors.

I do some solo entertaining, Parish Christmas parties, special events, etc. and in 2015 I made a record of which I am (modestly) proud!

Janine Graham – Soprano

I have always loved music, singing aloud and to myself constantly, often without even knowing I am doing so. As many other singers know, however, I need constant practice, with a critical ear to keep myself in tune.

I have, therefore, always belonged to various choirs and choral groups. One of the first I joined was the Jersey Festival Choir when I was 24, back in 1983. It was a good opportunity to have a joint interest with my mother. I loved it then and I love it now.

In those days it was with the redoubtable Amy Luce. On one memorable occasion she frightened me by coming up to the gallery at the then Wesley Grove during a concert and stood beside me to sing Handel's Messiah, however, she told me that I was “quite good” - praise indeed! But during another concert, I fainted whilst pregnant (all that breathing!), and so, sadly decided the commitment to JFC had to end. I continued with other smaller music groups and did not return to the Festival Choir until 3 years ago when my family had all grown up and left Jersey.

What I love about the Festival Choir is the acceptance and the friends I have made. But more importantly for me is the singing: I enjoy the discipline of singing beautiful choral music and have taken the opportunity to learn to read music properly; this helps in other musical aspects of my life, namely my church worship group where I play the guitar.

In addition, as an artist and painter, I have used some of the music to inspire my work and am able to use my skills by producing and designing the programme last year for our annual concert. I intend to do it again this year, 2017, as I feel it is a good way of returning the benefits I have gained from being a part of the Jersey Festival Choir.

Philip Le Brocq (President) – Bass, and
Jurat Sally Le Brocq OBE – Soprano

Our first interest in the Jersey Festival Choir was in the 1950s when Philip was a young admirer of the attractive and charismatic Amy Luce, conductor of a youthful choir which rehearsed in rooms at La Motte Street.

Sally’s musical talent stems from her Mother, Eva, a very attractive and talented contralto soloist from Northern Ireland. She was in Jersey with her parents whose father worked for the Belfast Ropeworks Company, and was heard singing at Wesley Grove Methodist Church (as St Helier Methodist Centre was called at the time) by Cecil Harrison. He was so taken by her glorious voice that he followed her down the street, introduced himself and invited her to tea. They were married some years later in 1928. The Harrison family all sang in the Choir at Aquila Road Methodist Church. Philip used to sidle in for Evening Service to try to catch Sally’s eye, hidden as she was between her many daunting relations. They were married there in 1963.

After their life at Eastbourne College, where Philip taught for 25 years, they returned to Jersey in 1988 and Philip has been President of the Choir since 1989.

We have loved our music-making with the Choir and with a succession of talented conductors, (including the aforementioned Amy Lobb, née Luce), where social and supportive conversations at the weekly rehearsals are as important as the singing. The varied challenges of the Annual Concert, the Festival of Carols, singing on Liberation Day each year and at special funerals make the whole regular musical experience rewarding and uplifting. Our son Mark, a lyrical operatic tenor, has been a regular soloist for the Choir, and so the singing tradition continues.

Rachel Lucas – Soprano

I sang in a choir at sixth form and university in Canterbury & Bristol then started singing again after a 10 year gap with a choir in Amersham, BUCKS, when I had my children as a 'me only' activity.

I enjoy meeting up with friends I have made in the choir and learning new music, especially the large works that need the full four parts. Plus I love the opportunity to sing carols in St Thomas’ at Christmas.

I joined the Festival Choir in 2007/8 because the chair, Philip Le Brocq, was my most inspirational A level teacher. Further, Chris Charman in the Sops was the Assistant to my father at work for years and had invited me to the odd workshop day when I was visiting from living in the UK.

I am not on the committee although I co-ordinate accommodation for the visiting musicians for the Spring concert which requires a bit of a sales pitch, but it is usually very rewarding for all the hosts involved. I am usually found on the back row in rehearsal and, unless I have Maureen to guide me, I am not always in tune.

Christine Charman – Soprano

I joined in September 1974; I was a very keen classical music lover with only schoolgirl experience of choral singing, but I was able to read music. 

I joined the JFC because I wanted to have the opportunity of singing the big choral works and was encouraged to do so by my aunt, Laurie Fox, a founder and long time contralto member of the JFC.  She told me that the choir master, John Lobb, and his sister, Amy Luce, the accompanist, were not afraid to tackle anything. The most challenging in my experience was Bach's St Matthew Passion, Mozart's Mass in C (double choir and orchestra) and Elgar's Music Makers.

We learned Handel's Messiah over one summer's recess and sang it annually at the beginning of December for at least 15 years as a fund-raiser.

I have been on the committee a few times over the years helping to run the Spring Fayre, the annual dinner at the Grand and a few years producing and editing the annual concert programme.

Gillian Woodall – Soprano

I joined the Jersey Festival Choir early in the 1960s with the encouragement of its conductor, the late John Lobb MBE. Apart from a break in the 1980s when the children were small, I have been a member ever since, singing under five of the Choir’s conductors.

Performing oratorios and other major choral works with the Choir, supported in those early days by student orchestras from UK music academies and outstanding professional soloists, was a revelation and a joy. Perhaps the most memorable was Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, conducted by Sir Thomas Armstrong – for me a deeply spiritual experience, especially hearing a young Robert Tear as the Evangelist. On occasion the JFC joined the JSO Chorus, and being able to sing in really large-scale performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana and Verdi’s Requiem was incredibly exciting.

The JFC’s repertoire has extended in recent years to shorter works from various musical periods, up to the present day, and here Harvey Brough’s jazz Requiem in Blue and Jonathan Willcocks’ A Great and Glorious Victory particularly stand out. The music for the annual Festival of Carols is, of course, largely traditional, but interesting new pieces are always included.

From 1998 to 2001, my husband Peter and I were joint secretaries of the JFC, when it soon became apparent that Peter is much better at remembering people’s names than I am! I did the paperwork and Peter concentrated on the more organisational and hands-on duties; these were challenging times, when with the refurbishment of St. Helier Methodist Centre, we had to find an alternative concert venue and set everything up in the days before the JFC had a concert manager.  

I enjoy not only the singing, but also the social side of the Choir, where I have made very good friends. I hope to continue in the soprano line as long as my voice will let me, and look forward to a fresh chapter for the Choir under its new musical director, William Millow.

Ruth Pilkington – Alto

Our family came to Jersey in 1966. Our son, Christopher, was working abroad and daughter, Sue, attended Girls' College. A few of her friends there mentioned us to their parents, and wonderful Jersey hospitality flowed in our direction. One of these friends, a certain Rosemary Lobb, may have mentioned my love of music to her father; as they say, the rest is history.

The earliest choir programme I have is 1972’s, singing Mozart’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams' Benedicite with John Lobb as Chorus Master, and the R.A.M. supplying the student orchestra under Dr Anthony Lewis however I think I joined the choir even earlier in around 1968.

It was a privilege to join the choir at this early stage and to have known all the Lobb’s. There are probably longer-serving choir members. I know I am not the oldest in the choir today; currently, there are at least four actively singing nonagenarians to my knowledge. (It must be something to do with the breathing exercises!)

A number of Festival Choir members joined the "Scratch" Choir, the “Really Big Chorus”, for a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Albert Hall under Sir David Willcocks in May 2004 - a wonderful experience. Judith Pountney and I also joined a Scratch choir of about 150 UK singers, again under Sir David, to sing Messiah in Beijing in 2006. On another occasion, we joined a Scratch Choir cruise in the Baltic, led by Brian Kay. 

My difficulty now is fading hearing in my left ear, and total deafness in my right (owing to an Acoustic Neuroma and the surgery to limit its growth). Thankfully, I have good neighbours in the choir who tell me if I am on the wrong page of music! 

My immediate family has had its share of loss; when I became the lone survivor, I found the choir fellowship and the friends I had made to be a wonderful strength and support. I so enjoyed having orchestra students to stay in my home during concerts too, and kept in touch with some of them for many years.

Andrew Jelley – Tenor 

As a child, Andrew was taken to hear many of the Festival Choir's concerts when his father, Vaughan, was its President.

Andrew enjoyed singing in the school choir, but lapsed during years of study at Art College. In 1978, he joined the Festival Choir as a (First) Tenor along with his wife, Liz, who sang as an Alto. He was challenged with Bach's St Mathew Passion as this was his first introduction to choral singing; Andrew found the experience very rewarding and the piece remains one of his favourite choral works. Ever since then, he has sung in nearly every JFC Christmas and Spring Concert.

Andrew has also sung with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, performing in all of the well-known productions on the Opera House's stage.

Andrew has been on committee as stage manager for a number of years and looks after staging, publicity & banners. After nearly 40 years in the choir, he still loves the challenge of learning new works and improving his singing knowledge whilst enjoying with the companionship of fellow choir members.

Honorary Members of the Choir  

Mary Devenport

 Pauline de St Croix

Cyril Luce

Sue de Gruchy

John Le Riche

Rose Millow

Rowland Heaven

Audrey Lobb

Roy Picot

Jean Drydale  – Soprano

Singing has been a big part of my life, right from the early days of belonging to the school choir with the inspirational John Lobb as our conductor.

Over the past 30 years, I have sung with Concordia, The Jersey Gilbert & Sullivan Society, The Jersey Gospel Community Choir and The Peoples Choir.  However, I do love musicals, with Jesus Christ Super Star and Les Misérables being two of my favourites.  

Although I have never taken part in any of the musicals produced locally, as a member of the Jersey Gilbert and Sullivan Society I have joined up with the chorus line and have taken part in most of the Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta's held at the Jersey Opera House over the years. This is certainly challenging work as not only do you have to learn all the music and words but there is a certain amount of choreography for the chorus to perform.  But it is great fun and wonderful to be part of a staged show.

I joined the Jersey Festival Choir in 2018 as I fancied trying something a little more challenging. The opportunity to be part of a large four-part harmony choir is so rewarding and they are a great bunch of people.

I am so pleased that I took on the challenge to sing with this wonderful choir and am looking forward to our coming concerts.

Reg Le Sueur - Bass

It all started when I was 3 and living in South Africa. My mother recorded in her wedding Book: "Reggie adores music". Then soon after that, I was found sitting by her turning the pages as she played her repertoire of Schubert and Chopin on the piano.

While at Prep school, I was introduced to raucous South African patriotic songs. At 11, I was by now in Eastbourne, Sussex, at another Prep school where I was enrolled as a Policeman in The Pirates of Penzance, and The Gondoliers.

Then at 14, I went to Eastbourne College (before Philip Le Brocq). At home, after a few piano and Oboe lessons, I spent hours ferociously banging out Chopin's Polonaise in A Flat. I sang Treble in Mozart's Requiem Mass, and Bach's B Minor Mass, and was also in the Choir.  I was very pure after a Calvinist upbringing, and was taken aback by what appeared to be the other choirboys' unholy behaviour behind the benches. Then, I lost my religion completely and forever, stalking out of the Choir and devoting my attentions to singing Bass in the (secular) Choral Society.

I left school at nearly 18 to become a medical student. My mother sent me to stay at St Olave's Rectory in Manor House, North London, for the good of my soul, being unable to comprehend that I did not possess one. I did, however, discover the church organ, and made the most horrendous racket trying to play the "Amen Chorus" from The Messiah. I also discovered Wagner.

In Jersey, when I arrived in 1974, I attended a rehearsal of Mozart's Requiem Mass with John Lobb, and then took 30 years off for work. After retiring in 1999, I got Tony Ellison (just deceased) to get me into Jersey Island Singers, and then a bit later I joined the Festival Choir as well.

I love the camaraderie of the Festival Choir, and particularly enjoyed singing Mendelssohn's Elijah, and the Mozart and Faure Requiem Masses. I have had a great time expanding my musical knowledge, and hope to carry on indefinitely