ONE of the most esteemed musicians of international repute has become a figurehead of the long-established Bury Choral Society.

Internationally renowned conductor Sir Mark Elder, who is the music director of the Hallé Orchestra, has joined the society as their new chief patron.

Since its establishment in 1838, Bury Choral Society has had a number of illustrious patrons, including Sir Malcolm Sargent and Sir Charles Groves.

The society’s former long-serving patron, opera singer Jeffrey Lawton whose singing career took him all over the world, died in May last year, aged 78. The trustees of the society, which is a registered charity, spent some time considering who to approach as the new chief patron.

Graham Bolton, the society’s chairman, said: “We approached Sir Mark earlier this year and I was absolutely delighted to receive a call from him a short while ago accepting our invitation to be the society’s new chief patron.

"Frankly, knowing that he is the patron of very few music organisations and is approached by many, our expectation was not high and we are, therefore, very honoured and privileged that he has agreed to be associated with our choir as our new chief patron."

Sir Mark has been the music director of the Hallé in Manchester since September 2000, and has led many of the world’s top orchestras and opera companies; he recently conducted at The Metropolitan Opera in New York.

He now joins Bury Choral Society — a mixed voice adult choir and one of the oldest surviving choral societies in the country.

“We know that Sir Mark is very busy”, Mr Bolton said, "and we don’t expect to see him very often but it is wonderful that he is willing to be a figurehead for the choir which has had such long associations with the community around the Bury area and its civic authorities — the Mayor of Bury has been the civic patron since 1906."

The choir is currently preparing for its performance on Saturday, July 6 at Emmanuel Church in Holcombe, which will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the installation of the church organ and its refurbishment this year.

Singers are invited to join members of Bury Choral Society for a rehearsal and performance of some of the choruses from Handel's oratorio, Messiah, under the direction of Juan Ortuño and accompanied by organist Elin Rees.

Rehearsals will begin at 10am, in preparation for the short performance at 4pm, which is free to attend. Participation costs £10 per singer, of £5 for students. Copies of Messiah are available on loan where required. For more information and booking forms visit or telephone 01706 827832.