A Ladies choir based in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire
Established in 1978

Fun, friendly and no audition!
First term free!

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The Amici Singers normally give three main concerts a year in and around Bedfordshire. They also perform all over the UK and abroad whenever they are able.

In the past they have sung evensong in Norwich Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey. The choir regularly performs on behalf of Barnardos, most notably in 2002 where the concert was held at the Royal Albert Hall and then in July, in the grounds of Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in February 2003 in Ely cathedral alongside Cambridgeshire schools.

The choir has toured extensively, to Belgium, France and the USA singing in such places as The United Nations, New York, Downingtown & Paoli (Pennsylvania), Chicago, Charleston, Damascus (Maryland) and Washington. On their 7th visit in 2002, the choir sang a Blessing at Ground Zero (the site of the Twin Towers in New York), which was a moving and memorable experience.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their founding, the choir gave a concert in the Bedford Corn Exchange on 5th July 2003 and on this special occasion they were accompanied by The New English Concert Orchestra.  Also taking part in the concert were Carole Lindsay-Douglas (soprano) and their President (at the time) the international percussionist, Nigel Shipway.  To round off the anniversary year, the choir travelled to Norwich and sang out the Christmas edition of BBC Look East with a perfectly timed rendition of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” from the new Christmas work written for them by Douglas.

In April 2004, the Amicis participated in a celebration of 750 years of worship at St Mary’s Church in Over, Cambridgeshire.  The programme included “The Cantebrigge Tale” and three Glenn Miller songs.  All profits from this concert went to support the work of YWAM (Youth with a Mission) on some of the islands on Lake Victoria. The people there are amongst the poorest in the world and the money sent was to provide basic sanitation, clean water and support for AIDS victims and their families.

The summer concert that year took place in their home town of Potton.  They were joined by the strings of The New English Concert Orchestra and the programme included the first performance of “An East Anglian Folk Song Suite”.  The orchestra also played Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” and Bach’s “Brandenburg No 3”.  In addition there was a guest appearance by Victoria Goldsmith, a finalist in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, Junior Section who performed Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill”.

Over Easter 2005 the Amicis made their 8th tour to America with three venues – Downingtown, State of Philadelphia, Abingdon, State of Maryland and Damascas, State of Washington.  A very full programme involved many visits to special sites within the states as well as several well-received concerts. For the Summer Concert in July there was a first performance of another of Douglas’ folk suites – this time with an Irish flavour and called “The Singing Emerald Isle”.  The Christmas Concert saw a departure for the Amicis as the performance of “The Infancy of Christ” told the Nativity Story through sound and image.  It contains original music and narration taken from the bible which covers the Annunciation to the return to Nazareth from Egypt where the Holy Family had taken refuge from the wrath of Herod.

2006 was another busy year.  In May a visit was organised to Taunton with a concert at Temple Methodist church on the Saturday and participation in the Sunday morning service.  In June a visit was arranged to Stickford, nr Boston, Lincolnshire to participate in a concert at the invitation of a former member of the Amicis.  The Summer Concert took place at the beginning of July at St. Mary’s Church, Potton.  In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, the programme included his “Missa Brevis in F” as well as Douglas’s “The Singing Emerald Isle”.  Bryan Shaw, principle oboe of The New English Concert Orchestra performed the “Oboe Concerto”, a work written specially for him a couple of years ago by Douglas. Accompanying the concert was a string orchestra as well as Trevor Hughes on the keyboards.  In October the Amicis were invited to Mundesley in Norfolk to join the Mundesley Singers in a concert and the final concert of the year took place at Dunton Parish Church.

In November 2006 a CD recording was made of “The Infancy of Christ” and other seasonal music – ready for sale over the Christmas period.  This CD and “How much my heart does love to sing”, the choir’s original CD are available for sale from Lindsay Music (see Contacts).

Concert History

Douglas Coombes was born in Bristol and read music at St Paul’s College, Cheltenham and Dartington College of Arts, Devon, where he studied, in particular, composing and conducting.

Douglas is a prolific composer and among his compositions are two concertos one for clarinet and organ and the other for oboe. five masses, a requiem, an Easter Oratorio, two symphonies, two ballets, orchestral and chamber music, church music and music for children.

On leaving the BBC to devote more time to composing and conducting he immediately founded The New English Concert Orchestra, a professional orchestra. In 1997 the orchestra became the orchestra of The Battle Proms was booked for the first Battle Proms concerts and has played in every concert since. These summer concerts take place in the grounds of stately homes of the UK. The main feature of these concerts is the performance of Beethoven’s Battle Symphony as the composer intended, namely with 193 cannons and mortars and with muskets. In August 2018 the orchestra played their 100th concert; Douglas has conducted every Battle Proms Concert since they began and he is now thought to have conducted Beethoven’s Battle Symphony more times than anyone else in music history.

Douglas Coombes studied music at St Paul’s College, Cheltenham and at Dartington Hall, Devon. He a received some inspiring conducting lessons from Imogen Holst, the daughter of the composer Gustav Holst. However, from an early age in his home city of Bristol, he will always be indebted to his private piano teacher, Horace Paull, who opened his eyes and ears to so much music and was the first to encourage his compositions.

For 20 years, Douglas was a music producer, writer and broadcaster for BBC Education working mainly on two popular programmes – Time and Tune and Singing Together – which reached over 2,000,000 young people weekly. He also arranged all the hymns for Come and Praise Book 1 and when he left the BBC in 1988 he arranged two more BBC hymn books – Come and Praise 2 and Come and Praise Beginnings for which he composed over 50 hymn tunes.

Douglas Coombes MBE

His work has taken him abroad to many European countries, Hong Kong, South Korea, the USA and throughout Europe. He has conducted a number of the leading UK orchestras and has conducted and led concerts for Barnardo’s, a leading UK children’s charity in many cathedrals and concert halls throughout England. He is also the Chairman of Adjudicators for the Barnardo’s National Choir Competition.For ten years Douglas was the music consultant and music director of BBC’s Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year Competition. He is one of the Patrons of the British Kodaly Academy. He has also accompanied his wife, the soprano Carole Lindsay-Douglas, in many recitals in the UK and abroad.In October 2008 he was made an honorary life member of the Schools Music Association of Great Britain for services to music in education. In November 2010 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Gloucester University, and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list of June 2012 he was awarded the MBE for services to music. He was presented with the award in December 2012 by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. In November 2013 he conducted, in the Royal Albert Hall, London, the largest ever ocarina ensemble of 3081 players in his composition written for the occasion Ode to a Joyful New Star, thus beating the previous record held by a Chinese ensemble of 831. This new world record was verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.From January to June in 2019 he directed the Homerton Charter Choir (Cambridge University) while the regular conductor was on a sabbatical. On October 4 2019 Douglas was appointed an Associate Fellow of Homerton College. For a hobby he conducts three choirs The Amici Singers, The Homerton Singers and The Ensemble of Friends and when he has the time he enjoys watching two games that he once played, rugby and cricket, the latter he once considered playing professionally – but music won!