To read the Reading Post article about Gwyn Arch (now our President), please click below:
To read the Henley Standard article about Gwyn Arch, please click below:
To read the Sonning Common Magazine (July 2014) article about Gwyn Arch, please click below:
Interview with Gwyn Arch by Ros Varnes of Sonning Common Magazine. – Please click here below:
Gwyn Arch loves choirs. He conducted the SCCS for over 49 years and also conducted the Reading Male Voice Choir which he formed in 1971. Gwyn conducted at the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago. In 2006, he was awarded an MBE for his services to music in Berkshire.
Surprisingly, Gwyn’s first career choice was not music. After studying English at Cambridge and education at Oxford, he started work as an English teacher. His talent for music was revealed through school drama and musicals – and when he could not find suitable music to perform with his pupils, he wrote his own. At the same time he studied composition in a part-time way, leading to a Fellowship of Trinity College and an LRAM. His ability to draw music out of people led to his appointment, with virtually no previous experience in the teaching of music, as the Director of Music at Bulmershe College of Higher Education, Reading in 1964. Here, he formed the Bulmershe Girls Choir. The choir achieved success at international level and toured extensively in many parts of the world. They represented the UK seven times in the international rounds of the BBC choral competition Let the People Sing.
Since retiring from his post at Bulmershe, Gwyn has continued to be actively involved with choirs in Berkshire. Some years ago he conducted 850 primary school children in an ‘environmental’ Musical at the Royal Albert Hall. A lately-developed interest in choral arranging has led to numerous of his arrangements being published by Faber Music – music for youth choirs and upper voice groups, and including 17 of the 40 arrangements in the highly-successful Faber Carol Book. He also contributes substantially to the catalogue of a leading Austrian publisher. Unsurprisingly, many SCCS concerts featured his work.
In addition to all this, Gwyn keeps busy adjudicating at music festivals and playing piano in a Dixieland jazz band.
His Male Voice choir pieces are featured on their own web site at Grove Music.
Here is the review of Gwyn’s 40th Anniversary dinner by the Henley Standard:
“Choral Society Director in Charge for 40 Years”
Over 200 choristers and friends celebrated the 40-year reign of the South Chiltern Choral Society’s director. Gwyn Arch, from Sonning Common, has headed the society since moving to the area in 1964 and is also well known for his time at the Reading Male Voice Choir.
Guests at the event, held at Reading University, enjoyed a special performance of a poem originally written by Gwyn’s mother, that was put to music by composer Alan Bullard. Gwyn was also presented with a hand-made oak coffee table, with a collage of programmes and posters from the last 40 years inlaid into the top.
He said: “It was a great thrill for me — there were people I hadn’t seen for 30 years so it was incredibly touching. “I inherited a small village choir with about 30 members and now, through the hard work of all involved, we have a membership of 125, with people coming from far and wide to sing. “I still get a lot of kicks from what I do because I think music is exceedingly important in one’s life, and I look forward to the future.” The then chairman of the choir, Richard Harrison, said: “To direct a choir for 40 years is an outstanding achievement. We have been exceptionally fortunate — Gwyn’s talent, enthusiasm and love of music has enriched all our lives.”