The following has been adapted from a 40th anniversary concert programme note by Alan Gomersall a founder member of the choir and the choir’s chair for many years.
In 1977 the Revd Geoffrey Russell, incumbent at the time of St Barnabas Church in Linslade, Leighton Buzzard, formed a madrigal group which met once a week in the vestry. Simultaneously four people were meeting regularly at a house on the local Bideford Green estate to sing motets and madrigals for their own enjoyment. However, Geoffrey soon realised that his parish commitments in the evening meant that he could not continue with his madrigal group and so the two ‘mini-choirs’ merged.
Perhaps a women’s group in Wingrave has much to answer for as, during the autumn of 1977, the new group was asked to sing at their harvest supper. Result – panic! A programme had to be devised and a name had to be found; and thus, due to a mistyping in this first concert programme The Linsdale Singers were formed to give their first concert, which included a mixture of sacred and secular pieces performed by just 11 singers with one member keeping time by nodding his head! The encore was a disaster after the group’s rendering of a short motet by Byrd faded away after about 10 bars! But the supper was excellent.
The choir today
Now, over forty years later, the choir has 30 members, has given well over 200 concerts in venues ranging from small village halls to parish churches, sung the weekend services in 30 of the great English cathedrals and abbeys, sung at many civic services, weddings and funerals, sung full choral evensong in many local churches, made two trips abroad to sing in Dutch and German churches, and has occasionally joined with school choirs to provide the ‘backing group’ for young singers tackling works such as Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Over this time the choir has been accompanied by many exceptional organsists – Alan Wilson, David Howard, Paul Carr, Paul Daggett and Richard Watts – as well as many talented local instrumentalists who get together to form the ‘Linsdale Orchestra’ when the choir performs with a small orchestra. The choir is very grateful to all these musicians; however, what the choir has achieved would not have been possible without the untiring work and inspiration of their musical director since the 1980s, Dennis Pim.