The Ceramic City Choir
The Ceramic City Choir, with over one hundred members, is North Staffordshire's largest choral society. The Choir was founded in 1942 largely as a result of encouragement from the distinguished conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent. The choir has been privileged to sing with distinguished orchestras and vocal soloists, including several years with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sir Charles Groves. Notable conductors of the Choir have included Owain Arwel Hughes, Christopher Robinson, Dr Donald Hunt, Ian Tracey and Sir David Willcocks.
The choir has specialised in singing the major works of the choral repertoire, covering most of the classics in its over 60 years' history everything from Monteverdi to moderns. Over the last 25 years the choir has brought first performances to Stoke-on-Trent of a number of major choral works, ranging from Berlioz' Te Deum and Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky to Orff's Carmina Burana and Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
In November 1996 the choir gave a performance of Elgar's cantata King Olaf on the 100th anniversary of this work's first performance in the Victoria Hall under the composer's baton. The 1996 performance was conducted by Donald Hunt with the BBC Philharmonic orchestra and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In November 1998 the choir joined forces with the City of London Sinfonia in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 to mark the re-opening of the refurbished Victoria Hall.
The Royal Golden Jubilee was celebrated in the autumn of 2002 with a suitably regal programme conducted by the doyen of choral conductors, Sir David Willcocks. In the spring of 2004 the choir gave a popular programme of 19th Century French music entitled 'The French Connection' with a virtuoso organ solo by Ian Tracey of Liverpool Cathedral and in October of that year gave a very successful performance of Haydn's Creation with the Manchester Camerata and Donald Hunt conducting.
The choir has marked the international Voices for Hospices movement with two concerts, one in the autumn of 2003 with Aled Jones as guest artist and one in the autumn of 2005 with Emma Johnson as guest clarinetist, with varied programmes including great choral classics and inspirational music.
The choir has also joined forces with other choral societies to provide performances of major works: Verdi's Requiem in the autumn of 2001, Berlioz' Requiem in March of 2005, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in April 2007 and Karl Jenkins' 'The Armed Man' in April 2008.