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Choir founder Gill Garside prepares to say goodbye to Bury St Edmunds-based Aquarius Singers

A Bury St Edmunds women’s choir is preparing to say goodbye to its long-standing director.

The Aquarius Singers will perform their final concert of the season on July 13, which will be the last one led by founder and director Gill Garside.

After 20 years’ managing and conducting the choir she founded, Gill is retiring.

Gill Garside conducts the Aquarius Singers. Picture by Andy Abbott (13010035)
Gill Garside conducts the Aquarius Singers. Picture by Andy Abbott (13010035)

She said: “I feel the choir is very strong and this is a good time to pass it on to a new director.”

A music graduate of the University of East Anglia and a music teacher, Gill was running a children’s workshop choir at St Edmundsbury Cathedral when some of the mothers asked her to start a singing group for them.

“The idea was to have a choir that rehearsed in the afternoon to allow women with school-age children to take part,” she said.

“We advertised in the local press inviting people to come along. We have never held auditions, the aim has always been to be an inclusive group that makes everyone welcome.”

The Aquarius Singers started in September 1999 with 35 members. About 12 of those people are still in the 60-strong choir today.

The choir has performed all over Suffolk and beyond and raised thousands for charities and churches.

Gill cites the annual Christmas concerts as a highlight of her year.

Gill’s contribution to the musical life of Bury includes directing the Edmund Octet male singing group; singing with the female quartet Classic Femme, Bury Bach Choir and Abbot Consort; teaching piano and singing, all of which she will continue. She taught music at Howard Middle School; worked with Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society on stage and as music director and trained the chorus of Suffolk Opera.

From September, Patricia Mason will take the helm of The Aquarius Singers.

Patricia, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music, said: “I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with The Aquarius Singers.

“I am looking forward to new musical adventures.”

n The Aquarius Singers in Concert is at All Saints Church, Park Road, on July 13 at 6pm. Tickets cost £9 including wine and nibbles, from Balaam’s Music, Risbygate Street, or on the door. The concert will raise funds for WaterAid.

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