Following the demise of the Ballymena Male Voice Choir in 1924, the Seven Towers Male Voice Choir was formed with Mr John Kirkpatrick as trainer and conductor. William Livingstone took over as conductor in 1951 with his daughter Heather, at the age of 14, as accompanist until she left to further her studies at the London School of Music.
When Heather qualified with an Honour’s Degree in Music and later became Lecturer in Music at The University of Ulster, she still maintained her close connection with the choir where she met and later married Jack Clarke. Heather was associated with the choir until her death in 1984, leaving behind many choral arrangements to be enjoyed by the choir. Under William Livingstone’s talented leadership the choir not only gave concerts and recitals all over the province but also entered the international choral arena, winning the Male Voice Class in Cork International Music Festival in 1960 and 1961. The choir was also semi finalist in the radio competition “Let the people sing.”
Raymond Marshall, a solo singer acclaimed all over Northern Ireland, became conductor in 1965 and under him the choir toured in Canada in the Toronto area in 1979, Wales in 1980, and Scotland in 1984 and 1986. When Raymond Marshall took ill, the choir fulfilled their arranged tour of Germany in 1988 with David Mudd as Conductor.
Following Raymond’s retirement for health reasons, Miss Elizabeth Strahan became conductor in 1989 and under her leadership the choir went on a tour of Canada in 1990. Due to work commitments Elizabeth resigned in 1992.
Mrs Thelma Strange, who had been accompanist, was then appointed Musical Director in 1992 with 16 years old Kathryn Clarke, daughter of Heather, and grand-daughter of William Livingstone, filling the role as accompanist until she left to further her studies at Manchester in 1994.
Since then our accompanists have been Mrs Hilda Groves, Mrs Naomi Millar and the very talented Miss Rea Shiels.
Since Thelma took charge, the choir has been on tour to Scotland and Southern Ireland on numerous occasions. In 2010, the choir performed in the Cavan Crystal Hotel on the Easter Saturday evening, finishing the weekend by leading the praise in Kylemore Cathedral on Easter Sunday morning. In 2018, Thelma was awarded the BEM, for services to Music, and in 2019 took the decision to retire from her role as Musical Director.
The choir were delighted when Rea Shiels took over the role of Musical Director at the start of the 2019/2020 season, and we welcomed Leah Greer to the accompanist's chair. We look forward to many successful years under the guidance of these two very gifted ladies.
The choir has a present membership of 55 men, most of whom travel from many parts of the province to practice once per week. We welcome new members and hope they will enjoy the singing, comradeship and close friendship which has existed in the Seven Towers Male Voice Choir down through the years.
Practices are held each Monday from 8.00pm to 10.00pm from the beginning of September to the end of March in the Ballymena Bowling Club. Anyone interested in joining the choir should contact the Secretary in the first instance or speak to any member of the choir.