Mads stays the same, and changes

If Mads in the 1970s was characterised by stability, in the 1980s the distinctive feature was change. The core repertoire was reaffirmed, but now placed an even stronger emphasis on authentic performance. Mads’ past was celebrated through a festival, but the choir also started to reinvent itself with a succession of logos. Mads - as good custodians - organised a proper music archive in the Old College, yet lost the use of its beloved Quad and had to find new concert venues. A constant process of iterating back and forward.

Thirtieth anniversary in 1980

1980 was a significant year for the Elizabethan Madrigal Singers as it marked the choir’s 30th anniversary. A special festival was arranged which included performances by Mads, guest choirs (domestic and international), and new works. It also included an international composition competition which was won by Brian Hughes. The festival brochure even featured a Mads logo – a first for the choir.



July 1980 was a busy month for Mads. The 30th anniversary festival had a brief rest while Mads - conducted by Jamie Birch - went on tour to the Netherlands.


Mads Memories

Preparations for Mads’ tour got off to a bumpy start. Elaine Walters (née Thomas) tells the story:

“I was Chairman that year and Smapp (Susan Mappledoram) was Foreign Secretary. I well remember a sharp knock at my door in Pantycelyn in the middle of one May night. It was Smapp hammering the door to get in. She was in a total panic!! Only on looking at the tickets she had collected that day did she realise that we were booked to return to Harwich on the actual day of graduation, not the night before, as she thought! We were literally queuing for the travel agent to open that following morning in order to change the booking!!!”

“While it is not for me to comment on the standard of the concerts, the success of which was mostly due to the good fortune of having an excellent bunch of singers rather than any great contribution on my part, I think that the choir did some fine work in those days as it has always done and, I understand, has continued to do so”

— Peter Oram