The Church of St Paul, Geelong, Victoria was Dedicated in 1854 and from that time to the present day it has had several periods when the worship has been enhanced by the presence of a choir.
From 1940-44 Dorothy Glover, an organ pupil of both Sir William McKie and Dr E A Floyd was organist and choir mistress and reportedly raised the choral standard at St Paul’s to a remarkably high level, particularly with regard to the singing of the hymns and psalms.
See ‘Dorothy Glover- Organ historical Trust of Australia’ for further information on this remarkable lady. In 1944 Dorothy moved to Melbourne and asked her friend, John Brockman, if he would take over the work. JB said he would ‘try it for six months’ which he did and stayed as Choir Director and Organist for 66 years. During this period the choir grew rapidly in numbers and in fame, performing many of the great sacred choral works and a legendary Annual Carol Service.
The current Director of the Choir and Organist is John Kirkham, appointed to succeed John Brockman in October 2010. John Kirkham was formally Director of Choral Music at Melbourne Grammar School and Organist at the Chapel of St Peter. An extensive career in music education and choir training, both in Australia and in the UK assured that music standards at St Paul’ Geelong remain high and are valued by both the church and Geelong community.
The current choir consists of approximately 25 voices singing a range of music from the 16th century through to the present day. The choir rehearses once a week an excellent rehearsal space within the church grounds and sings on Sunday at a 10.30 am Choral Eucharist in the glorious acoustic of the church accompanied and enhanced by the fine sounds of a three manual pipe organ.
The choir is affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music and members have the opportunity to gain a thorough grounding in sight reading, aural training and musicianship and to become intimate with the different genres of sacred music used for worship and the liturgy.
The choir’s repertoire includes responsorial psalms and Anglican Chant, introits, anthems and a series of Choral Eucharist setting including those written by Noel Rawsthorne, Grayston Ives, David Thorne, John Rutter and Anthony Greening. The church has an excellent music library which includes multiple volumes of The Church Anthem Book; The Oxford Easy and Book; The Oxford Tudor Anthem Book and Anthems for Choirs Books 1,2&3. In addition contemporary composers have written material specifically for St Paul’s Choir, most notably and recently the music of Dr June Nixon.
If you wish to know more of the choir and/or consider joining the choir then please contact John Kirkham on 0448 319 105 or come to the church at 7.30pm of a Wednesday evening and ‘sit-in’ on a rehearsal. You will be most welcome.