Fred Bowden interview: The world of song

As far as I’m concerned my pastime is singing. I’ve been singing since I was a youngster in chapel, church. Once we were in Palestine the battalion choir was reformed oddly enough, a male voice choir, and we used to sing around Palestine in various spots.

Somewhere fairly early on, I joined the Wimbledon Choral Society and I spent many happy years with those. They were singing in what was then the Wimbledon Town Hall, which no longer exists. And by one means or another, by a sort of circular route, I happened to be singing in a Streatham church solo part, tenor soloist, in Stainer’s Crucifixion, and the bass soloist contacted me some time later. I had never met him before, nor since. Would I care to sing, just for one performance, with the London Symphony Chorus? I nearly fell over. What! London Symphony Chorus? Well, I did. I did this one concert. And I was so overwhelmed with the experience that I applied to join. That was in 1978. The concert was in January 1979. So I applied to join and I was accepted and I sang then with the London Symphony Chorus as a second tenor, until this amputation put a stop to that. And we sang all round Europe. It was really wonderful. And I sang as far afield as Russia, Italy, France, Germany, various places. And since I’ve left of course, they’ve gone further afield. Gone to America as well. But I still keep in touch with them and they come here and visit me as people I’m fairly close to. Well 15 of them are coming next Saturday to my birthday.