Meet our members

Meet the committee

We'd like to introduce you to some of the most prominent members of Colchester Choral Society.

Gordon Kuphal, Honorary President

Nigel Humphreys, committee member

Gordon Kuphal

Gordon is our Honorary President and has been involved with Colchester Choral Society (CCS) for an incredible 57 years.

About CCS, Gordon says, “I love singing great music with others (and meeting friendly and interesting people with similar tastes).  Dr. Swinburne was, and Ian Ray is, an inspiring musician and very effective teacher.”

We asked Gordon some questions about his musical tastes and experiences:

What are your earliest musical memories?
I remember round about 1950 listening on the BBC Home Service to Tom Jenkins and his Palm Court Orchestra playing light classical music in the programme "Grand Hotel". I also enjoyed a series on the radio of extracts from various Gilbert and Sullivan works.

Did you play an instrument as a child?
I learnt the violin in my teens and got as far as Grade V.  Much later in life I got Grade III on the piano and wish I had learnt from an earlier age. Nowadays both instruments are sadly neglected.  
However, I did play in the second violin section of the school orchestra. More recently I have played early music with my wife and two or three friends for our own amusement.

What was the first LP you bought?
The first 78 I bought was part of Haydn's symphony no 101 (The Clock). The whole symphony wouldn't fit on one 78 and I could only afford to buy one record at a time.

Describe your most bizarre or unusual musical experience.
In 1957 to mark the centenary of Elgar's birth I sang in my school choir in a performance of his oratorio "King Olaf" conducted by the school's music master, Willis Grant. Dr Grant walked in to applause, took a bow and started the performance. After only a few bars he turned to bring in a soloist, but none of them were there. He had to stop the orchestra and, embarrassed and apologetic, he went off to lead the soloists in and begin all over again.

What was the most recent concert you attended?
Colchester Symphony Orchestra playing William Walton's Viola Concerto and Vaughan Williams' "Job".

Do you have a favourite composer?
My favourites are Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert (in chronological order).

Gordon surely has the most romantic story associated with CCS.  For some years he was librarian for the choir, which involves borrowing copies of music scores from the County Library.  This led to an unexpected and momentous change for Gordon.  He got to know the county music librarian.  Reader – he married her.


Nigel Humphreys

Nigel has been a part of the CCS family for around 15 years.  He was invited to join CCS by a friend and stayed because of our musical director Ian’s high musical standards.

Nigel currently also sings with the Kelvedon Singers. He says, “Because this is a small choir, I have been more exposed, and I now put more effort into practising between rehearsals!”

We asked Nigel about some of his musical experiences and tastes:

What are your earliest musical memories?
Singing nursery rhymes - including in Swahili!

Did you play an instrument as a child?
I played piano to Grade V and 'cello to Grade IV - I wish I'd persevered with the 'cello, which has such a beautiful sound.

Is there someone who had a particular musical influence?
My music teacher at school, Mr Martin, who was also the organist and Director of music at the Parish Church.  He recruited me into the Church choir.

What are your musical tastes and dislikes?
I listen mainly to baroque music at home, especially Bach and Vivaldi, and have a secret love of ABBA.   I find most rap music lacking in musicality, and the lyrics often offensive.

What was the first LP you bought?
It was Beethoven's fifth - how nerdy is that?!

Is there a concert you've attended that particularly stands out?
Stile Antico singing unaccompanied – wonderful and ethereal.

Describe your most bizarre or unusual musical experience.
Attempting to play the didgeridoo - a present from my brother, who brought it home cabin class from Australia.

What was the most recent concert you attended?
Cosi fan Tutte at Layer Marney - I thoroughly recommend this new opera series.

When asked his relationship with music, Nigel articulated what many of us feel about the vitally important role that music plays in our lives: “Music is an important transcendent experience for me - that sounds a bit grand, but I just mean that it takes me out of myself and my daily worries and routines.”