|The Rushden Echo, 24th June 1898, transcribed by Kay Collins
RUSHDEN OLD BAPTIST CHOIR - The Nonconformists Choirs at The Crystal Palace
It is now accepted as a matter of fact that whatever Rushdenites take up is pursued with a zeal which is not only the pride of the inhabitants but the honour of the whole county. Not the least of the accomplishments of the town of Rushden is its musical ability. This gift was abundantly demonstrated at the Crystal Palace on Saturday, at the annual festival of the Nonconformist Choir Union. The M. R. Company made special arrangements for the conveyance of the choristers from all parts of the country to London, and with ideal weather the arrangements as regards the Rushden contingent were satisfactory to the most fastidious. About 6.30 a.m. on Saturday could be seen gaily attired individuals in the streets, all bound for the M.R. station. The journey was commenced with jubilant spirits for
that our favourites, the Rushden Old Baptist choir, would carry off the contest prize. After leaving Wellingborough we sped swiftly through the newly mown meadows, the fresh morning breeze wafting the fragrant perfume in at the open windows of the carriages. On reaching Bedford we were asked by the officials to deliver up our tickets, and not a little confusion was caused in finding them. The remainder of the journey as far as I could see, was uneventful. St. Pancras was reached about 10 o'clock, and there the company dispersed to see the various sights of the great city.
The Old Baptist choir went straight on to the Palace to be ready for their work. There were seven entries for the contest, which commenced at 12.30. Our favourites were placed last on the list, giving them ample time for refreshment and a quiet walk in the beautiful grounds. The adjudicator of the singing was Dr. E. H. Turpin. The appearance of the Old Baptists on the platform was the signal for a hearty round of applause, the concert room being well filled with attentive auditors. The test piece was "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem," (J. H. Maunder). Needless to say the representatives of Rushden performed in a most brilliant manner, and fairly captivated the audience. Rushden's selection was "Hymn to music " (Dudley Buck), a most beautiful part song, sung with much spirit and confidence, and the item called forth vociferous applause. During the time our favourites were singing I felt
The result was a foregone conclusion, and we gathered round the judge with breathless excitement and cast longing eyes on the shield, which was placed on the front of the platform.
The judge, in making the award, said that the singing of all the choirs was remarkably good. In his remarks the judge scarcely mentioned Rushden, except to say that the andante part was a little too slow. These remarks made us feel somewhat dubious about the prize, after all. When the end came and Littleborough United Methodist Free Church were first, a chorus of sighs went up all round. There can be nothing said after the judge’s decision, except that several eminent musicians thought the prize ought to have
including Mr. Croger, conductor of the orchestra.
It is satisfactory to note that the Rushden choir were only slightly behind the winners, having obtained 84 marks to 92 secured by the winners.
After the excitement had cooled down a little and we had said all we thought about judges and musical critics in general, and one in particular, it was time to assemble on the Handel Orchestra for the concert. Those who have had the good fortune to hear a choir of 4,000 voices can well understand how we felt when that magnificent assembly rose to sing the first chorus. Mr. E. Minshall, the president of the National Nonconformist Choir Union, as usual, conducted the festival. It must have gladdened the heart of many a Nonconformist to see such a host belonging entirely to the Free Churches.
Madame Kate Cove was the soloist, and her selections were sung in a masterly manner. Rushden was represented by about a hundred songsters from most of the Five Churches in the town.
The Rushden Old Baptist choir was represented by the following members:-
Soprano Mrs. Tassell and Misses West, Elstow, Groome, E. Maddock, Edwards, Sargent, Clayton and Darnell.
Contralto Misses E. Green, F. Knight, A. Green, Clarke, Colson, Maddock, Ashby and Knight.
Tenor Messrs. Stringer, S. Brightwell, Bayliss, Hastings, Sargent, Brightwell sen., and Green.
Bass Messrs. Corby, Clarke, Darnell, Tailby, A. Sargent, Knight, Flood and W. Brightwell.
Conductor Mr. J. Farey; accompanist, Mr. G. Farey; secretary, Mr. Flood, to whose energetic action was due the fact that the arrangements for the comfort of the choir were so complete.
It should be mentioned that Mr. Bayliss is the secretary of the Rushden Nonconformists Choir Union.