The WINDSOR AND ETON CHORAL SOCIETY gave its first public performance in Windsor in 1837 while William the Fourth was still on the throne, making it one of the ten oldest Choral Societies in the country. Founded by the then Organist of St George’s Chapel Windsor, it has always had a close connection with both St George’s Chapel and Eton College, conductors having been drawn in almost equal numbers from the two royal foundations. They include Ralph Allwood from 1985 until 2011 who was succeeded by Tim Johnson, Precentor and Director of Music at Eton College, the current conductor.
The Choral Society has Her majesty The Queen as Patron and is honoured to have had among its patrons Prince Albert, Princess Christian and, since 1923, the reigning Monarch. Of the present Royal Family, The Queen, Prince Philip and the late Queen Mother have all attended performances.
The Society is about 150 strong and generally performs a very varied selection from the main choral repertoire. Most concerts take place in Eton College School Hall or College Chapel but also occasionally in St George's Chapel, Windsor.
Many eminent soloists have appeared with the society from Dame Clara Butt to Dame Emma Kirkby. Many young soloists who performed early in their careers with the society have gone on to great things and are now in demand all over the world.
The Society has participated in many celebrated special occasions including the 2007 Falklands commemoration ceremony televised from Horse Guards Parade, the hugely successful May 2008 Royal Windsor Tattoo featured on BBC1 and the much acclaimed 'Music on Fire' at Sandhurst attended by 22,000 people. Most recently the choir was honoured to sing Zadok The Priest at The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration televised on ITV which subsequently won a BAFTA award and also performed The National Anthem at The Patron’s Lunch on The Mall in front of many of The Royal Family.
A major celebration of the 175th birthday took place in 2012, including a performance of Messiah, repeating the Society’s very first concert.
The Society prides itself in being friendly and sociable and strives for the highest standards of performance and is open to all singers.
Tim Johnson, Precentor and Director of Music at Eton College took over as Conductor of WECS in September 2011. Tim was Director of Music at Westminster School and regularly directed their choir and orchestra in venues such as St John’s Smith Square and Westminster Abbey. Tim read Music at Cambridge where he was an Organ Scholar and Co-Principal Cellist in the University Orchestra. In 1995, Tim was appointed Assistant Director of Music and Head of Strings at Wellington School. Five years later he became Director of Music at Eltham College. A highlight during Tim’s period at Eltham was preparing the trebles for a live Radio 3 broadcast of Mahler Symphony No. 8 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev.
John Halsey is Organist & Choirmaster of Windsor Parish Church, performs regularly as an organist, cellist, choral conductor and is Regional Consultant for Berkshire for the Royal College of Organists. John was for six years Head of Music at Langley Hall Primary Academy, a free school in Slough, which became perhaps the most musical state primary in the country as measured by the number of children passing graded music exams each year. As a church musician, John has been a Gentleman of HM Chapels Royal, St James's Palace; Director of Music at St Luke's, Chelsea; Organist of the Anglican Chaplaincy in Strasbourg, France; and, during an interregnum, acting Organist of Wangaratta Cathedral, Australia.