In 2016 OSJ Voices celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Formed to support the work of the Orchestra of St John’s, the choir’s creators were Jeremy Jackman and three young ladies who naturally became The Three Graces – Yvonne Thomas, Lizzie Teague and Elaine Howell. The last-named was then and is now the choir’s librarian, and married OSJ Voices bass Nigel Horder in 1999. Others who have been members since the beginning include Lynne Holland, Clive Holland, Marianne Barton, Helen Stanley-Hogh, Faith Marchal and Tim Shelton. Looking forward, the next generation is already with us: long-serving bass David Hadden was joined in a recent concert by his baritonal son Jeremy. A number of former members have gone on to careers as professional singers. Apart from the handbill that announced the choir’s formation, it has always recruited by attraction – new members come to the choir in various different ways, but advertising is not one of them.
Flexible in both size and approach, OSJ Voices is equally at home with the familiar, the less well-known and the brand new. In a recent concert they sang a cappella motets and part-songs by Tchaikovsky in Russian non-stop for thirty-five minutes. Larger choral masterpieces such as Handel’s Messiah and the Requiems of Mozart and Brahms are a regular feature. The choir also embraces contemporary works such as Stephen Montague’s Varshavian Autumn, which was written especially for them and recorded with the orchestra on the Montague CD Snakebite. For their tenth anniversary Benjamin Wallfisch wrote A Winter’s Tale which was premiered at St John’s Smith Square.
Nothing if not versatile, the choir has also featured on Robert Alagna’s Christmas CD (EMI); broadcast Schumann’s Requiem on Classic FM; appeared in ‘Doomwatch’ for Channel 4 TV; and once provided the voices for the BBC trailer for the Six Nations Championship! In 2008, OSJ Voices featured on the BBC2 television series ‘Maestro’.