History

Patrons:

  • Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, former Lord Bishop of London
  • Professor Dr Ian Tracey, Organist Titulaire of Liverpool Cathedral 
  • Dame Dr Patricia Routledge, Internationally Renowned Singer and Actress

Founder Members: 

  • Ronald Cayless
  • Howard Dear
  • Thomas Howling
  • Maurice Merrell
  • Denis Puxty
  • Martin Toyer

Although the idea of organizing professional musicians in guilds can be traced back to the Romans in the early part of the 7th century, the formation, at least in London, of a fraternity or guild of musicians seems not to have begun until around 1350 or possibly later.

No doubt guided by these ancient precedents, the late Denis Puxty founded the Guild of Musicians and Singers in 1993, the aims and objects of which were, in his words, “to create a Guild of professional and amateur musicians similar to Guilds of years past, enabling members to meet from time to time for working and fraternal purposes”. The title was probably suggested by the words of Psalm 68, verse 25 – ‘The singers go before, and the minstrels (musicians) after’. It was chosen for ease of abbreviation (so as not to be confused with the GSM – the Guildhall School of Music) and was meant to include those who play and those who sing.

Since its inception, the Guild has sought to promote, through its concerts and recitals, a high standard of musical performance. Its principal meetings are normally held twice yearly in Central London, and these have featured solo piano recitals; lieder and song recitals; a recital for violin and piano; concerts by brass ensembles; an orchestral concert; a military band concert; a recital of music for clarinet and piano (rarely-heard Sonatas by Stanford and Howells), organ recitals including major works by Reger and Karg-Elert; and a theatre organ concert on a famous Wurlitzer organ in south London. Choral concerts have featured Handel’s Coronation Anthems of 1727, and major works by William Walton have also been given including the Coronation Te Deum. An important work for narrator and organ was given its first performance in Britain in Holy Trinity Church in Sloane Street. Fully illustrated lectures and talks have been presented, and speakers have included three distinguished cathedral organists.

The Guild has been endeavouring to expand its programme to include regional activities outside London, and already has held highly successful meetings in Liverpool and Ipswich. The London meetings are normally held at the church of Allhallows-by-the-Tower, and full details of these and regional meetings are sent to all members before each event, supplying accurate locations and detailed travel information.

The Guild's magazine Fanfare is published in March and September, comprising articles on performance-related subjects, together with CD, DVD and music reviews and other items of interest.

The Guild regards itself as a learned society and is NOT an examining body. It consists of well over 400 members, and includes many distinguished musicians among its Honorary Fellows. Membership exists on three levels and entry is by election. Full academic dress is available from the Guild’s robemakers, J.Wippell of Exeter, and members can also purchase a Guild tie from the Secretary General (£10 including P&P).