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Choir founder to wave goodbye after 20 years of performances

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 25 June 2019

Gill Garside is retiring from The Aquarius Singers - a choir she founded in 1999 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Gill Garside is retiring from The Aquarius Singers - a choir she founded in 1999 Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Archant

After two decades of managing and conducting a successful Suffolk ladies' choir, its founder will wave goodbye following the group's final concert of the season.

The Aquarius Singers under Gill Garside's direction Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe Aquarius Singers under Gill Garside's direction Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Gill Garside will retire from the Bury St Edmunds-based Aquarius Singers following the choir's concert at All Saints Church in the town on Saturday, July 13.

Gill, who founded the choir in September 1999, said she felt it was the right time to depart.

"I feel the choir is very strong and this is a good time to pass it on to a new director, Patricia Mason," she said.

"We have a fabulous sound, and have developed a massive and varied repertoire, which the singers have risen to and embraced."

The choir will perform its last concert of the season at All Saints Church on Saturday, July 13 Picture: ANDY ABBThe choir will perform its last concert of the season at All Saints Church on Saturday, July 13 Picture: ANDY ABB

The Aquarius Singers began 20 years ago with 35 members and around 12 of the founding members are still in the 60-strong choir today.

The group has performed all over Suffolk and beyond, exploring a wide range of music while raising thousands of pounds for charities and churches.

Reflecting on her years with the choir, Gill said the annual Christmas concerts are one of the highlights of her year.

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"Performing at The Apex with Bury Concert Band was a thrill, and the first time we sang Gustav Holst's Ave Maria in eight parts will always be a special memory."

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.

Patricia Mason, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music, will take the helm from September.

Patricia has lived in Bury St Edmunds since 2004 and works as a registered music therapist, having obtained an MA in music therapy at Anglia Ruskin University in 2018.

She is choir director for both the Suffolk West Federation of Women's Institutes and St Edmund's RC Church in Bury, and plays in the Bury Friendly Orchestra.

She said: "As a performer, director or music therapist, my aim is always to tap into the innate power of music to inspire and move our hearts.

"I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with The Aquarius Singers, which under Gill Garside's direction has become one of East Anglia's premier choirs.

"I am looking forward to new musical adventures with this wonderful group of people."

The Aquarius Singers in concert at All Saints Church is on Saturday, July 13 at 6pm and will raise money for WaterAid, which works across 28 countries to provide safe water around the world.

Tickets, which are priced at £9 and include a glass of wine and nibbles, are available from Balaam's Music Shop in Risbygate Street, or on the door.

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