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History

Formerly known as the Renaissance Group, the choir was founded in 1955 by Douglas Gifford, Professor of Spanish. David Gascoigne, from the Department of French, directed the Choir from 1989 to 2006 and conducted over 150 former members of the Renaissance Group at the 50th Anniversary concert, of which a CD was made. Andrew Macintosh directed the choir until 2010. The Renaissance Group has toured regularly in Europe, recently in 2007 and 2009 to Provence and Normandy.

Under Douglas, the choir pioneered performances of a considerable number of newly edited Renaissance masses and motets, including especially the surviving works of the great Scottish Renaissance composer Robert Carver. Carver's works, then little known, were prominent on a number of LP recordings which the choir made and in Edinburgh Festival performances given under the direction of both Douglas and, later, David Gascoigne. David's most ambitious undertaking with the choir was a performance, rare in St Andrews, of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610. The choir was fortunate to have Thomas G. Duncan as its resident organist (and tour cook!) throughout this period.

In its early days the "Ren Group" provided an extraordinary and clearly unforgettable experience for many of its members. Douglas and Hazel Gifford held rehearsals at their home in Boarhills and cooked up soup and grub for everyone. Old members of the choir and hangers-on (everyone was welcome) remember peeling potatoes and Douglas regularly spilling coffee all over the floor. Tours were exciting and often had an element of the unknown, with Douglas occasionally ignoring the small question of where the choir would turn in for the night.

The choir has now become part of the Music Centre and is directed by Gillian Craig. Over the last couple of years it has performed two concerts a semester. One of these concerts has been in St Andrews (in St Salvator’s Chapel or Holy Trinity Church) and one outside town: venues include the reverberant Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle and the lovely jewel of St Monans Kirk in the East Neuk. The choir has toured to Italy and France in recent years.  Former directors of the choir include Cole Bendall, Claire Luxford and Andrew Macintosh.

Ren Singers at Stirling Castle (April 2012) 220 pixels wide


Stirling Castle, April 2012