Three Counties Musical Society

How it all began

The Three Counties Musical Society was formed in July 1988 from a nucleus of friends who had previously sung together the works of Gilbert and Sullivan on the Derby stage, but for whom a structured company no longer existed.

A successful and very amicable Gilbert and Sullivan society had existed in the area, solely administered, efficiently and tirelessly, by a dedicated Savoyard. Time came when the pressure of other commitments overcame the Director and he felt the need to close down the society. Having no company now, and anxious not to stop singing together and risk losing touch with a crowd of lovely friends, the idea was mooted of starting a new society. A meeting was held – at the instigation of Eric Brook, Judy Hind and Susan Cush (formerly Chetwin) – and the enthusiasm from the rest of the membership for such a venture was virtually unanimous. This new society would have a committee to share the workload; Eric Brook was appointed Chairman with Judy Hind as Secretary; Bryan Clarke from Derby agreed to be the first Musical Director. As its members were drawn from around South Derbyshire, South Nottinghamshire and North Leicestershire, “Three Counties Musical Society” was chosen as its name. A rehearsal venue was sought central to this area and meetings commenced. New members kept arriving, many from other local societies, and our membership was soon up to about forty, a number we have endeavoured to maintain with equal numbers per part.

The Society’s aim was eventually to be in a position to stage full-scale theatrical productions but initially we began with concerts. A varied concert programme was prepared, incorporating choruses from opera, operetta, songs from the shows, pop songs old and new, and a little comedy, all interspersed with small ensembles and solos by our wealth of talented soloists. The concert was taken touring in support of charities and local worthy causes, giving the Society publicity and creating much goodwill. In the Spring of 1989, Derby Guildhall Theatre was hired and a concert for ourselves was held to raise money towards our first production. By November 1989 we could still only afford to put on a concert version of The Pirates of Penzance, with rudimentary costumes and accompaniment by piano and percussion. By the following year, though, 3Cs was really on its feet and we staged The Yeomen of the Guard at The Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton, in November 1990, to high critical acclaim. Peter Barlow played Jack Point with Caroline Palmer as an enchanting Elsie Maynard.

Successful annual productions followed (see list on Page 12), with concerts each May of a light and varied nature. The Society was reaching a stage by the late ‘90s when its membership felt the urge to move away, maybe temporarily, from the G&S repertoire, and to spread its wings a little. But which way should it turn? Turn right for grand opera or turn left for the twentieth century musicals? No-one was sure what would really suit us best.

The answer came in our Musical Director’s offer to write a musical especially for us. Our young and talented MD, Robert Wilsmore, had come to 3Cs in 1990 whilst a post-graduate music student at Nottingham University working on a doctorate in composition. So Dream was born – a show written to suit the needs of a company who regularly perform the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, but also to suit the tastes of its members who so love the modern West-End musicals.

Read about Dream on page 10 (under Curtain Up).


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