There was standing room only in a packed Spire Church on July 1 when Farnham Voices Together Community Choir said farewell to its founder-director Valerie Hoppé after 13 years with a typically attractive blend of new songs and choir evergreens.

It was also her final concert in a career spanning more than 60 years of conducting large choirs. It started with sacred music by Cherubini and Mozart, followed by powerful renditions of two Verdi choruses. After a song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers sung by Keith Mortimer and the choir’s tenors and basses, the first half concluded with popular songs including The Rose, arranged for Valerie and her choir by Gwyn Arch.

The second half was a medley from Guys and Dolls, with memorable songs by Frank Loesser. If the tuning was not always spot-on, the choir made up for it with gusto and commitment.

The audience loved Luck Be A Lady, I’ve Never Been In Love Before and Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat. Soloists Paula Smith and Allan Hilliar transported them to the seedy 1950s New York underworld.

It was a fitting celebration of an extraordinary conducting career, ending with Valerie being presented with a Voices Together rose.

A collection made £1,000 for baby charity SANDS. Laura Brown takes over as music director in September. Details at