First Choir Standing
Remember the TV programme Last Choir Standing? Well, Colne Orpheus Glee Union claims to be the First Choir Standing, and that’s the title of our current CD.
Established in 1886, the Orpheus claims to have the longest unbroken history of any English male voice choir. Over 132 years, the Orpheus has sung for royalty, won at top music festivals, broadcast on radio and made numerous recordings. In recent years we have embarked on successful singing tours to Germany, France, Ireland and Malta.
If you don’t know about our home town of Colne, check it out. It’s a great little town in East Lancashire, buzzing with music and theatre activity, and was recently dubbed Lancashire’s “Capital of Cool” for its mix of shops and tourist attractions. The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival held in Colne every August attracts top musicians and thousands of fans to the town. Colne is also the birthplace of Lancashire hero Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster on the ill-fated Titanic, who bravely kept his little orchestra playing to the last in 1912, and cycling hero Steven Burke, who won Olympic gold in 2012.
Matt Leedam, who runs a long-established family pharmacy business in Colne, is our conductor and is consistently introducing new material to the choir’s repertoire. In addition to choosing the choir’s material and conducting, he is also an organist and arranger. Matthew is the latest in a line of accomplished musical directors, the most notable of whom was the great Luther Greenwood, the choir’s longest-serving conductor, who led the Orpheus to fame in the 1920s and 30s. Jack Leeming was the choir's second-longest serving conductor until he handed over to Matt after more than 25 years in charge, then served as deputy conductor until retiring in 2014. Matt's deputy is Paul Simcock, who is also an accomplished organist.