Chipping Sodbury Music Society
In 2017 Chipping Sodbury Music Society celebrated its 70th (Platinum) Anniversary making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, society meeting regularly in the town.
In 1947 the Downleaze Music Club was founded by a group of music enthusiasts who met in each other’s houses to encourage the appreciation of music by means of illustrated talks, lectures and gramophone recitals. Over the following years the club developed and prospered so that, by the 1960s, live concerts were introduced. Supported by local financial assistance and sponsorship, musicians of considerable talent and acclaim were engaged and the club gained a reputation for promoting music concerts of the highest quality and excellence. As the membership grew in the 1960s they chose the St Lawrence Church as their venue. Later they also met at Chipping Sodbury School.
In 1990 the Downleaze Music Club changed its name to Chipping Sodbury Music Society, attracting members and sponsorship from a much wider area. They also moved to Chipping Sodbury Town Hall, Broad Street, Chipping Sodbury, BS37 6AD, with its larger auditorium and excellent lounge facilities. Occasionally they promoted larger events in St John the Baptist Church in Wickwar Road.
It is interesting to note that in 1967 the annual membership fee was one guinea (£1.05) and visitors paid 3 shillings (15p) for a concert ticket. Members enjoyed seven talks, a Christmas Party and the AGM, followed by dinner at Holly House on the Parade. In those days £1 bought 4 gallons (18.2 litres) of petrol or 3 lb (1.36 Kg) of rump steak.
In 1987 Downleaze Music Club celebrated its 40th birthday with a Gala concert, buffet supper provided by the members, and a splendid performance by the London Bach Orchestra. Two years later Emma Johnson was invited to perform for the Society. She is well-known for winning the BBC television “Young Musician of the Year” competition in 1984 with a dazzling performance on the clarinet. Renowned musicians, harmonica player Tommy Riley and harpist Skaila Kanga gave a delightful performance in 1991.
Now, in the 21st century the Society continues to invite excellent musicians – not just Classical but also Big Band, Jazz, Folk and World Music – to entertain their audiences. They are also keen to promote the musicianship of young students; of note have been performances by the Purcell School of Music, Flutissimo under the direction of Ian Clarke and, most recently, the South Gloucestershire Music Hub. The Society’s offer for this season includes the London-based Dime Notes Jazz Band, a Gala Concert with the Amadeus Orchestra, medieval, folk and world music from Joglaresa, a popular return of 4 Girls 4 Harps and the fabulous Mandolinquents. Join us to keep live music in the town for the next 70 years!