The inspirational Deborah Miles-Johnson led over seventy-five enthusiastic singers in a Vocal Workshop at Clacton’s St James’ Church Hall on 30th September.

From her experience performing with the BBC Singers and The Sixteen, Deborah introduced various ways of improving technique; from posture and projection to breath control; to support the stamina, health and dynamics of the singing voice.

Accompanied by pianist Stephen Smith, they rehearsed pieces from Puccini’s ‘Messa di Gloria’, and enriched their rendering of the traditional Christmas Carols they have sung for years. As one singer reported, ‘The afternoon was exhilarating; singing is such fun, and so rewarding!’

Gilli Dulieu, Musical Director of Clacton Choral said, ‘Deborah was brilliant, showing local singers how to develop their voices. There were so many new faces too and we hope that some will now think about joining our choir.

Gilli Dulieu

"Musician who nearly died on the operating table while enduring emergency surgery picks up her baton again"

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Wigged and gowned, the ever-versatile Clacton Choral Chorus, Soloists and Guests, with gifted accompanist Peter Humphrey, performed their hearts out to a packed and delighted audience, with a selection of Gilbert and Sullivan favourites and their hilarious Trial by Jury operetta in one act, at St James’ Church in Clacton on 1st July.

The 1875 courtroom came to life in front of their very eyes, as weeping plaintiff Sylvia Canning hit her splendid top notes, ably supported by her Counsel, Heather Atwell-Davis. Howard Stapleton was the archetypal Judge; Paul Bloomfield the cheery and implacable Defendant; while John Bennett steered a wayward Jury. David Ventura kept them all under control as the boomingly efficient Usher.

The musicality and diction was all there; the timing crisp; the commitment absolute and the necessary ham acting so effective, all because of the skilful direction of Musical Director Gilli Dulieu. The concert was in aid of Parkinson’s UK and raised just under £1,000


Clacton Choral Society conducted by Gilli Dulieu presented its Easter concert with music from J S Bach, Malcolm Williamson and Alan Bullard to a large and attentive audience on Saturday evening.

Extracts from J S Bach’s St John Passion were sung in English with soloists Daniel Joy, Peter Grevatt and Heather Attwell-Davis plus occasional beautiful accompaniment from flautist Francesca, daughter of the conductor. Throughout this wonderful work the choir were very attentive and responsive to Gilli’s sensitive direction especially during the bass Aria “My Lord and Saviour let me ask Thee” with chorale accompaniment from the choir.

The second half of the concert began with The Procession of Palms, a work by Malcolm Williamson, a former Master of the Queen’s Music. To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from this composer as he wrote in a bewildering array of styles but I was pleasantly surprised by the melodious choral writing, coupled with imaginative and contrasting organ accompaniment expertly executed by Stephen Smith.

The choir skilfully portrayed the meaning of the work from the start of the procession through to the final Hosanna and the work’s sudden ending.

This successful Easter-themed concert ended with Alan Bullard’s Wondrous Cross, which is interspersed with hymns for choir and audience, such as There is a Green Hill far away. The choir and three soloists sympathetically responded to the text based on the Seven Last Words attributed to Jesus on the Cross with empathy and pleasing phrasing.

The work and concert ended with the choir and audience singing the hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

The large choir of some 60 members were visually and musically focused on Gilli’s direction and clearly enjoyed the music, maybe more so in the second half than the first.


Given the cold winter’s day, the organisers were surprised and delighted to see the large church fill up until there were no spare seats; it appears this choir has built up the reputation of always offering a really good evening’s entertainment.

And so it proved. The performance of most of Messiah part one, which deals with the Christmas story, went off splendidly, enhanced by the brilliant playing of Beth Spendlove’s Kingfisher Sinfonietta. The choir produced a massive volume of harmonious sound but knew how to handle the familiar passages that skip along so lightly. They rounded off the extracts from Messiah part 1 with the rousing Hallelujah chorus which normally comes in a later section.

After the interval there was a delightfully mixed programme, three carols for the audience to sing along, a fantastic oboe solo by Timothy Eaton accompanied by the orchestra and a virtuoso performance by Beth herself on violin of a familiar piece by Vivaldi . Before the last audience carol the choir sang Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with its strange contrasts of the haunting typically Vaughan Williams’ chords, the simple slow solo line against the vigorous unison carol chants. We need to hear this work more often.

The solo was sung by Elaine Henson (contralto) who is very well-known locally and who was also the main soloist in the Messiah. The organist was Tom Cogan. All in all a great evening. Congratulations to the conductor Gillian Dulieu, whose hard work is really appreciated by the choir and bore such fine fruit this evening.


What a wonderful concert this was! A vision of summery yellow-and-green-dressed choristers produced music that spoke to everyone there; from the emotive choral suite of Karl Jenkins’ ‘Armed Man’; through to a soaring flute solo, delivered with consummate skill by BA (Hons) Music Student Francesca Dulieu, accompanied by Peter Thorne on the piano.

The choir went on to deliver ‘Sing’ and ‘The Happy Wanderer’ with so much joy that the audience were grinning from ear to ear,

then Gerry Bremner (aka Il Tenore) then stepped up to enthral us with three delightful songs from operetta and film, complete with sparkling eyes!

Prolific local composer Peter Thorne; stalwart of every performance that Clacton Choral has given since under the baton of Gilli Dulieu; played three of his fascinating piano pieces that were as refreshing as they were intricate and entertaining.

The choir picked up again with the all-time favourites, arranged by Gilli, of ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘Smile’ and then, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its being written, ‘Que Sera Sera’, with the audience being invited to sing along – which they did, with further broad grins!

Gerry then led the choir in a stirring finale, singing the all-time favourite from Carousel, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

All that was missing was a summer ice-cream … oh no; everyone had one at the end!

Bravo, Clacton Choral – Encore!