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About the Choir

When John Lobb went to Canford, Dorset, in the summer of 1955 to attend a choral course he sowed the seeds of what would become the Jersey Festival Choir.

There he met distinguished choral conductor Leslie Woodgate and asked him if he would come to Jersey to conduct a performance of Handel's Messiah – if a large enough choir could be gathered.

By the autumn John had the agreement of the Jersey Gleemen, Jersey Ladies Choir, Vauxhall Ladies Choir and the Jersey Evening Institute Choir to rehearse Messiah, in addition to maintaining their normal programmes.

Stanley Sackett, conductor of the Gleemen, took charge of the rehearsals, with John Lobb as accompanist.

The performance of Messiah at a packed Wesley Grove Church on 29 May 1956 was described by the Evening Post as 'the most outstanding musical occasion in memory'.

So began the Jersey Festival of Music and a new independent choir, the success of which over the ensuing years was ensured by chairman Arthur Harrison, former editor of the Evening Post.

The tradition of a distinguished guest conductor has continued to the present day.

After Leslie Woodgate came Dr (later Sir) Thomas Armstrong, principal of the Royal Academy of Music, and then his successors, Sir Anthony Lewis and Dr David Lumsden.

Stanley Sackett resigned as chorus master in 1960 and his place was taken by the accompanist and deputy conductor, John Lobb.

When John established the Jersey Festival Choir, his sister Amy took charge of the junior section – which would eventually become Holmchase – as well as acting as one of the accompanists for rehearsals.

Throughout the years Amy, John and their brother, Arthur Lobb, supported each other with their differing styles of choral music, and when John died at the end of 1980, the Festival Choir's silver jubilee year, it was Amy who took over as conductor and chorus master.

Fifteen years later she handed over the baton to another member of the extended family – Sue de Gruchy.

This Lobb family link has continued in recent years with Elizabeth Farnon taking over in 2008 and William Millow in 2017…

For the source of this text and more about the history of music in Jersey, see the Jersey Evening Post article Musical journey through the past here