Gwyn Arch

Gwyn Arch loves choirs. He conducted SCCS for over 49 years and also the Reading Male Voice Choir, which he formed in 1971. Gwyn conducted 850 primary school children in an ‘environmental’ musical at the Royal Albert Hall 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, leading to a Fellowship at 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. A deep interest in choral arranging has led to many 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 Helbling, a leading Austrian publisher. Unsurprisingly, many SCCS concerts featured his work as do the concerts of many other choirs all over the country.

After his final concert at Reading Town Hall, David Cottam (Chairman of the choir) expressed what a lot of people thought.  "To direct a choir for 49 years is an outstanding achievement. We have been exceptionally fortunate — Gwyn’s talent, enthusiasm and love of music has enriched all our lives.”

Since retiring from the choir in 2014, Gwyn agreed to become our first President and takes an ongoing interest in our activities.

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