|There has been a society, or ‘music group’ in Scunthorpe since 1881. It is unknown who was in charge or how often it met but records give the accompanist as Rev. Walter Insull, a curate at Frodingham Church from 1883 to 1889.
Prior to the Second World War some music appreciation classes were given by a Dr. Staton in Cole Street School (sadly now demolished). Dr. Staton was a musician, organist and adjudicator. The music mistress was Miss Florence Shaw and she, along with interested others, tried to start some singing classes. These were popular and formed the beginnings of our Society.
The present organisation was formed immediately after the Second World War and in 1995 the 50th Anniversary was celebrated.
In the 1944-45 season the conductor was Mr. Eric Curtis who was music master at Scunthorpe Grammar School and organist at Gainsborough Parish Church – Miss Shaw remained as Treasurer for many years.
In 1945 the Society performed "Acis and Galatea" at the Savoy Theatre in Cole Street. Rehearsals were in the Cole Street School Hall but were later held at the Grammar School Hall on Doncaster Road.
Mr. Curtis also conducted societies in Gainsborough and Doncaster, who combined with us to become the North Midlands Choral Union. This collaboration gave concerts at the three towns to the great enjoyment of the members of the three choirs. Concerts in Scunthorpe were given at the Pavilion Cinema on Doncaster Road, where bigger staging was available. During this time many professional orchestras and famous singers of the time were engaged for the concerts.
Mary Windley became deputy to Mr. Curtis shortly before he retired, becoming conductor from 1956 to 1973. Performances moved, briefly, to the College of Technology on Kingsway before moving to the Baths Hall on Doncaster Road. When this closed in 2001, performances moved to 'The House', Brumby Wood Lane, formerly known as the New Life Church. Since the Baths Hall re-opened in 2011 we have performed our annual community carol concert there as well as a number of major concerts, such as Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' and Bizet's 'Carmen'.
In 1969 Donald Hunt was invited as guest conductor and from then to the turn of the millennium had a close and valued relationship with the Society; he introduced us to some wonderful works and it is largely through his expertise that the Society has become one of the foremost societies in the North of England.
We have performed most of the established choral works as well as many modern compositions. We have had many guest conductors over the years, including Stuart Collins, Gordon Stewart, Clive Timms, David Lawrence, Jill Wild, Michael Brewer, Jeremy Jackman, Stephen Roberts and Simon Wright.
From 1981 to 2014 our chorus master was Neville Ward - an accomplished and professional musician who worked tirelessly on our behalf. Neville conducted many of our concerts.
In 2007, we combined with Grimsby Philharmonic Choir for a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion and in 2009 with Bingham and Mansfield Choral Societies to perform the Verdi Requiem. The collaboration with Grimsby Philharmonic Choir was reprised in 2014 for a performance of Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius'.
Following Neville Turner, Susan Hollingworth was appointed as chorus master in 2014. Susan has been well known for many years as a gifted choir trainer, as well as a noted national trainer and advocate of the benefits of singing. For many, Susan's name will be indelibly associated with the multiple award winning and widely admired Scunthorpe Co-operative Junior Choir, which she led for 32 years.
In 2019, in memory of the ending of World War 1 one hundred years earlier, the society joined with choral societies in Lincoln, Grimsby, Market Rasen, Gainsborough and Lincoln in presenting Benjamin Britten's 'War Requiem' in Lincoln Cathedral.