Founded in 1997, Cantique was the brainchild of Bob Warren and Richard Potter, both highly experienced choristers and musical directors. Bob and Richard decided to create a small choir of friends who would sing for their own pleasure to raise money for worthwhile causes - and to have fun doing it. Their idea was to sing mostly short, secular, a capella pieces so that the choir would be able to sing almost anywhere, without needing accompaniment. Unsurprisingly therefore a number of our concerts have been for church organ restoration funds.
Our first concert was at St Peter's Church, Wrecclesham, which was also our rehearsal place for many years. Since then we have sung all over Surrey and Hampshire, performing between three and five concerts a year, and our concerts have raised thousands of pounds for the charities for which we have performed. These include medical charities such as cancer research, church restoration funds, school projects (they say never work with children or animals but we've had a great time performing with school choirs), the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Royal Army Medical Benevolence Fund to name but a few.
Our ‘damp’ concerts - so-called because they raise money for sailing and seafaring charities - have been a regular feature. They always include a number of songs about sailing, sailors and the sea, and have been very strongly attended.
Bob and Richard sadly had to relinquish their batons, but both remained enthusiastic supporters and friends of the choir. Richard was choirmaster of St. Mary’s Church Frensham..
In 2010 the baton was taken up by Chris Gardner, son of the composer John Gardner., and a short while later we transferred to rehearse at St. Lawrence, Alton, where we have been made very welcome.
In January 2022, Richard Walshaw has been appointed as Cantique's new musical director.
The choir's concert format of about a dozen musical pieces - often written or arranged by choir members - interspersed with (usually) humorous readings has remained unchanged. We sing a mixture of secular and sacred pieces, and we've sung in several languages: English, French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian and Spanish so far. Jazz has featured more in recent years, often accompanied by Chris on piano, and sometimes with flute, trumpet and drums as well.
We have always been willing to sing with other choirs and musicians, and as well as children's choirs we have sung with The High Notes, a group of adults with special needs, with Alton Concert Band, and with St Lawrence Church choir and the Covenant Youth Choir.
Some things don't change: the choir is still a lively and social group and meals after concerts are enjoyed by all of us. Our 'clients' and their audiences always say how much they have enjoyed seeing us so clearly enjoying our singing and performing. They like the quality of the music, too.
If you'd like a Cantique concert, or would like to join us, we'd love to hear from you - so do contact us.