With more than 60 years’ experience of singing with St Albans Choral Society, Ros and Alan French have rare insights into the life of a large choir, both on stage and behind the scenes.

As the Choral Society kicked off its 75th anniversary season last month, its longest standing members spoke of their love of singing, the styles of different conductors, and the fun and challenges of rehearsals and performances.

Ros, a soprano, was a keen singer from childhood, and she and Alan, a bass, were persuaded to join the Choral Society by Eric Anderson, the choir’s accompanist, as they were leaving school. Alan joined in 1955 and Ros followed in 1957 after college.

Alan remembers his first performance 64 years ago in the St Cecilia Concert in the Abbey.

He said: “We sang Handel’s Messiah. It was a combined choir with the Bach Choir and others. We had over 300 singers and a big orchestra. It was magnificent – and it was loud!”

He says they have remained in the choir so long because they like learning new skills and techniques.

“We both have singing lessons at choir. We like the diversity of the music we sing. We also like repeating songs we know. Going to choir is a habit for us, and it’s a big part of our life. We’ve made some lovely friendships over the years.”

They have seen many changes, not least in concert dress. In the 1950s, women wore long black dresses, but that all changed in the 1960s, when shorter skirts came in.

“This led to a memorable occasion when a mature lady sitting prominently in the front row in a performance inadvertently revealed her elasticated purple underwear to the audience,” recalled Ros.

The couple have sung under six different conductors, from Anderson, who took over in 1956, through to George Vass, the current music director, who marks 25 years with the Society this year.

Ros said: “One conductor in the 1960s, Hilary Davan Wetton, caused some hilarity at a rehearsal when he told the sopranos, including me and the lady next to me – both of us heavily pregnant at the time – to sing ‘with stomachs in and chests out’!”

Under Keith Swanwick, who served in the late 60s and early 70s, the choir competed in the St Albans Festival, beating the Hertfordshire Police Choir “by half a mark”.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, the choir had readings by celebrities at its Christmas concerts, including newsreader Richard Baker and gardener Alan Titchmarsh. The readings at these ever-popular concerts are now done by members of the choir, and Ros herself has been one of the regular readers over the years.

Today the choir is “much better balanced” than in the past, says Alan.

“There is a better blend of voice parts and more younger people. The overall number of about 100 is good so we can fit in to the venues in St Albans.”

The couple have no plans to stop singing, and are looking forward to the 75th anniversary concert, St Alban and The Martyrs, on Saturday, November 23, in the Cathedral.

“Some people give up at our age,” Alan said, “but then that’s the end of it. If you don’t use it, you lose it. We’ll keep going until we get kicked out.’

Tickets for the 75th anniversary concert are on sale at www.stalbanscathedral.org/Event/st-alban-the-martyrs