Philip Baxter was a stalwart of Colne Valley Male Voice Choir for 47 years.
Although he joined the choir as a baritone and then moved to bass he became involved in so many other ways over the years as rehearsal accompanist and even a stand-in conductor.
Philip, who died on Saturday evening after an illness, supported the choir’s Musical Director Thom Meredith in vocal exercises and warm-ups with his jazz improvisations entertaining choir members and getting them in the mood for the music to come.
Often at short notice Philip would step in and rise to the occasion to play for the choir in concerts with reassuringly great skill and verve.
In recent years the choir has done schools tours to promote boys’ singing in primary schools across the district. Without Philip, often coping with slightly ‘dodgy’ pianos, these could not have been the successes and the pleasure they have proved to be.
As rehearsal conductor, Philip was the one the choir could always call on to take it through its paces. In concerts Philip would fill a solo spot to the delight of audiences or play a solo section in vocal solos.
Philip also played a substantial role in the choir’s management and development. This contribution was recognised in 2010 when he was made one of the choir’s vice presidents – the highest honour the choir can convey on a member.
As a key member of the choir’s Music Committee, Philip helped in planning and selecting the repertoire.
As an arranger his contribution to the choir’s repertoire has been significant.
His arrangement of You’ll Never Walk Alone has been a standard of our summer repertoire for many years.
Thom Meredith said: “Philip was a character known by everyone and one who gave such valuable service in so many capacities. As singer, as accompanist, as committee member, as arranger, as right hand man to accompanist Keith Swallow and as conductor both at rehearsals and sometimes at concerts and competitions, Philip was that rarest of talents, someone who would step up to the mark no matter what was asked.
“He was someone who would simply say: ‘Yes, I’ll do that for the choir’ and would then do the best job that he possibly could – on every occasion.”
Philip leaves wife Jo and children, Katy, Georgie and Sophie. His first granddaughter, Aubrey, was born in February.