In 1971 the Gatley Choral Society were due to give a carol concert without too much time to rehearse, so the conductor, Laurence Whitaker (after whom the choir is named), gathered together a group of singers from the Society who were able to perform some items on their own. They enjoyed this ensemble singing so much that they decided to continue as a separate group, and so the Laurence Singers came into being.
The original group was made up of only eight singers but, since then, the choir has grown to between 26 and 32 members at any one time. The choir is a repertoire group singing all kinds of music from oratorio to songs from the shows and we enjoy the great variety of music we perform. We have sung at more than a hundred weddings and, on other occasions, we have sung at funerals, in Manchester and Chester Cathedrals and at many other venues both locally and further afield. We can devise a programme suitable for any occasion.
We sing both a capella and accompanied pieces, being very fortunate to have Lauren Hibberd as our accompanist, and we enjoy the services of different organists from time to time. Occasionally we perform pieces requiring a small ensemble of instruments. Soloists and small vocal ensembles come from within the choir.
The choir is a registered charity and we perform a number of concerts each year, generally for any organisation which cares to invite us – usually churches or charities. Some concerts we organise ourselves to raise further funds for the upkeep of the choir as well as for charity.
In 2000, Laurence Whitaker retired as conductor and became President. He was succeeded by Clifford Crewe, one of the tenors in the choir. Cliff’s musical background includes many years experience as a singer and conductor in Lancashire, East Anglia and now Cheshire. He has conducted choral and operatic societies, male voice, children’s and mixed choirs and finds the Laurence Singers most satisfying because of the wide range of music they are able to perform to a high standard.
Following Laurence’s death in 2012, the role of President remained unfilled until 2017. Happily, our own John Healey, former chairman of the choir and a member (now retired) for 28 years, is now President of the Laurence Singers.