Founded in 1923 by violin teacher Annie Bristow, and looking foward to its 100th anniversary, HMS is proud to be one of the few amateur societies to have both a symphony orchestra and chorus. In 1988 a half-page profile of the Society in the Financial Times bore the title, “The amateurs deliver with brio!” Today we can say: “They still do!” The writer found “passion – of a musical kind – in a genteel Surrey town where life, it seems, begins at forte …” Well, the members have always been amateur performers and singers but nowadays they start younger and piu dolce.
From its beginning HMS has given annual concerts, and since 1945 it has performed up to four concerts a year of classical works and has built a considerable following. Membership is wholly amateur with players and singers from Haslemere and the surrounding area, and includes a wide range of professions and retirees, with ages from the 20s to the 80s.
Rehearsals are lively events, under normal circumstances held at 7.30 on Monday evenings from September to May in the Haslemere Hall.
Local musical tradition is built upon where possible. Sir Hubert Parry, for example, is remembered in Haslemere for his associations with Shulbrede Priory, in Lynchmere; he wrote the ‘Shulbrede Tunes’ for piano, as miniature portraits of his daughter’s family there. HMS has presented Parry’s, ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’, and to mark his centenary in 2018 the members performed a favourite song, one that he himself always called, ‘And did those feet in ancient time’.
Even remote-sounding works may have a home grown ingredient. HMS recently performed Baermann’s 1811 Concertstuck with a restored middle section – discovered in a manuscript, transcribed and reinstated by the orchestra’s lead clarinetist, Helen Owlett. Another object, found even more locally, is the song ‘The Royal Oak’, collected in Haslemere in 1912. This was set, together with other nautically-themed folksongs, as ‘Songs from Three Counties’ by local composer, Clive Osgood, director of music at St. Bartholomew’s Church, and HMS Accompanist. The Society had the privilege of giving these dramatic stories and intricate rhythms a resounding premiere.
More details of repertoire in our most recent concerts can be found in Past Performances.
A friendly welcome
All comers are welcome at the less formal HMS summer sessions in June, as well as to the popular Come and Sing events at St Christopher’s Church. Here a piece is rehearsed and performed from scratch on a Saturday afternoon – the occasions are famous for their tea and sumptuous array of cakes!
Singers and instrumentalists interested in joining the society are cordially invited to click here for more details.