Catalogue description Photograph of Manchester Elementary School-children's choir, taken in 1929 at the Free Trade Hall with the Halle Orchestra, after a recording session (which produced the popular rendition of Purcell's 'Nymphs and Shepherds') for Columbia Records.

This record is held by Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives)

Details of 349/1
Reference: 349/1
Title: Photograph of Manchester Elementary School-children's choir, taken in 1929 at the Free Trade Hall with the Halle Orchestra, after a recording session (which produced the popular rendition of Purcell's 'Nymphs and Shepherds') for Columbia Records.
Description:

The Choir consisted of 60 boys and 190 girls, aged 9 to 14, drawn from 50 schools (mainly 'central') all over Manchester. The choir was predominantly working-class since those children whose parents could afford musical instruments and music lessons went into the school children's orchestra; Mr. Rose estimates that a third of the choir's parents were unemployed; the children were taught to sing phonetically to erase local dialect.

 

The photograph is unique in that it records the only collaboration between the universally renowned orchestra and a choir of 250 working class school children lacking conventional nusical training, (Grammar School pupils were assumed to have no time to spare for non-academic endeavours such as this, which required two evenings a week rehersal throughout the whole academic year). As the prints cost 5/- each at the time, the children, given their background, could not afford copies (only six of the 180 members Mr. Rose was able to contact in 1975 held a copy). The photograph was arranged spontaneously, thus the children are not in concert dress, but dressed in school uniform or evening clothes and they are out of formation; it is the first photograph of any sort of the choir.

 

The photograph shows the old Free Trade Hall, before the interior was destroyed during the bombing of 1940-41. The orchestra consists entirely of men because of the conductor's, Hamilton Harty, insistence that, during the depression, women were not to be employed as they might be taking a place that a man, as the dominant bread-winner of a family, could fulfil.

 

The adults on the photograph are: left foreground, left background and centre middle - Registrars from Manchester Education Committee; centre foreground - Walter Carroll (Music Advisor to Manchester Education Committee, 1923-1935, the first such appointment made in the Country), Gertrude Riall (Carroll's assistant), and Hamilton Harty (Conductor of the Halle Orchestra); right middle - Edna Jamieson (Accompaniest to the choir); the remainder are members of the Halle Orchestra.

 

The Manchester School-Children's choir existed from 1925-1939 and grew out of the combined choirs (from 3,4, or 5 schools and consisting of about 50 choiristers) which, starting in 1923 gave concerts - usually in local Town Halls - during Civic Week. The concert with the Halle lasted from 1929 until Walter Carroll's retirement in 1935.

 

Mr. Rose is at the present time (October 1978) writing a history of the choir.

 

Negative Sheet Number C12/1

Date: 1929
Held by: Greater Manchester County Record Office (with Manchester Archives), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

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