Six Decades of Music Making - our origins and the conductors who have led us.
The Guernsey Choral Society was formed in 1948 by John Longmire. John Longmire, who was born in Lincolnshire, moved to Guernsey prior to the Second World War. He joined the evacuatiuon from the Island in anticipationof the German occupation but returned after 1945. He was a prolific composer of piano music and also wrote for solo voice and choirs. Much of his output is still available.
At around the time of the outbreak of the Second World War British composer and organist John Ireland lived briefly in Guernsey and he and John Longmire became friends. John Longmire subsequently published a respected biography of John Ireland.
The orchestra was formed in 1971 and the Society name changed to the present form.
Roll-Call of Conductors
1948 - 1954 John Longmire
1954 - 1962 Winifred Perkins
1963 - 1964 Gordon Hugh
1964 (Dec) - 1976 Marian Blondel
1977 - 1979 Malcolm Vivyan
1979 (Dec) - 1983 Roger Surcombe
1983 (Dec) - 2001 Alan Gough
2001 (Dec) Bruce Cornelius
2002 (May) Roger Brooks
2002 (June - Dec) Keith Dawber
2003 - 2005 Stephen le Prevost
2006 - Helen Grand
In 2008 the Society published A Brief History of the Guernsey Choral and Orchestral Society to mark the 60th anniversary. The history was written by Stephen Oliphant, then the immediate past chairman of GCOS.
It was at a public meeting on 30 October 1815 that Admiral Sir James Saumarez, later Lord de Saumarez, conceived the idea of building St James.
The church was to provide a place of worship for the British garrison in Guernsey, where services could be held in English. At that time, services in the Town Church were heldin French. The building was completed in 1818.
After a full life, which included its use as the Elizabeth College chapel for many years, the building finally became redundant in 1970 and fell into partial decay.
In1981 The Friends of St James Association was formed to achieve St James' restoration and then to administer the building as a concert and assembly hall. The States agreed to pay for its full restoration in 1983 and the building re-opened in July1985.
Since that time, St James has provided the island with a unique and versatile venue for concerts and public events covering a broad range of tastes for both residents and visitors.
In early 2002, the Dorey Centre opened after a fifteen month building period and years of fund raising by the Friends of St James Association. The resulting three-storey annexe now houses a reception and box office, fourfunction rooms, bar and café as well as the prestigious Guernsey Tapestry. These additional facilities provide St James with the increased versatility itrequires to cater for many different types of functions and also provides theAssociation with further let-able income from local businesses and organisations.
The Friends of St James receive an annual grant from the States of Guernsey to help towards the administration of the building while fund raisingand income from Membership of the Association help them further to meet their financial obligations.
The island has its own parliament, the States of Deliberation, which isdemocratically elected. There are no political parties in Guernsey andtherefore the island is not prone to pendulum swings in regime or policy. TheStates is responsible for domestic affairs, its economy and tax regime.Guernsey enjoys full fiscal autonomy in tax and regulatory matters.
As a Crown Dependency, the island's ties to the UK are through the Crownrather than the British Parliament, where Guernsey has no representation. TheLieutenant Governor is Her Majesty's personal representative and officialchannel of communication between the Crown and the UK Government and Guernsey.