In 1975 a young Christopher Walker took over the job of conducting Benson Choral Society. In those days it was a village choir of about 25 voices that occasionally joined with other Oxfordshire choirs under the baton of Dr Bernard Rose. Nearly 50 years on, the Society has a flourishing membership and, accompanied by high calibre professional soloists and orchestral players, we perform the major works of the choral repertoire to an enviably high standard.

Chris stepped down for health reasons in 2020. He had challenged and encouraged us with a blend of high musical standards, boundless energy and disarming humour, and we owe our growth, in both size and stature, to him.

We were very fortunate that 
Richard Laing was able to step in as our guest conductor to rehearse and conduct our memorable performance of Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony in March 2020, a week before the UK first went into lockdown. Like all choral societies our activities were then severely restricted for an extended period during the covid pandemic. During this time, Richard was instrumental in helping to keep the society together through distanced face-to-face rehearsals once these were allowed, and online. The eventual return to live performance was marked by an exciting performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle under Richard’s baton.

In 2022 we appointed Steven Grahl, Organist and Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford as our new Musical Director. We enjoyed a highly successful and entertaining year working with Steven before he was appointed Director of Music at Trinity College, Cambridge and so sadly left us to take up his new post in January 2024.

Jonathon Cole-Swinard, Head of Music and Chorus Director with Garsington Opera joined us in January 2024 and we look forward to an exciting future working together.

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