Tuesday 18 May 2021

PBGS 50 Years Singing: Peter Jenkyn's account of how PBGS began in 1971

June Pickard (centre L) and Peter Jenkyns (centre) with pianist June Game (centre R) in our 1987 Pirates

Many thanks to Life-Member Helen Farmer-Butler who has rustled up this lovely account of how PBGS started in 1971, written by our first MD, Peter Jenkyns, for our 21st Anniversary programme. It’s fascinating!

“Twenty five years ago Putteridge Bury was a ‘College of Education’, training teachers in an attempt to rectify a serious shortage of teachers in the area. Most of the students were ‘mature’ having had previous careers or, in the case of many women students, having raised a family and seeking the challenge of a professional career.

Into this atmosphere came a fifty-year old student straight from the Air Force (and, moreover, of ‘exalted rank’ as Gilbert might have put it!). His name was Brian Champion and he approached me one day (I was music lecturer on the staff) with the proposition that if I were to conduct “The Pirates of Penzance”, he would organise the whole affair. I agreed and called upon a very talented student of mine to produce the opera and sing the part of Mabel. Her name was June Pickard…

True to his word, Brian set to work. His method was similar to that adopted in a military campaign. His production office had huge charts on the wall into which were stuck coloured flags. On another wall was a ‘flow chart’. I had the feeling (shared by others I am sure) that, if we were behind schedule with any aspect of the production, there was quite a danger of being shot! In the event, the whole thing went with a precision which, I am sure, was unmatched by any other society in the land. As if the role of Generalissimo was not enough for him, Brian gave a memorable account of the Sergeant of Police!”

The 21st Anniversary programme


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