The Armstrong Gibbs Society (AGS) was formed in 2003 with the purpose of promoting information about Gibbs’ life and works and to encourage performances and recordings of his music. There had been a resurgence of interest in his work mainly due to the ease of making recordings, the catalogue initiated by Lyndon Rust and compiled by Michael Pilkington and the revival of interest in composers writing between the Wars. A small but hardworking committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Christopher Kingsley, organist and choirmaster of St John’s Church Danbury, where Gibbs spent much of his life and is buried.
In April 2000, a slate plaque to his memory was installed on the north wall of the chancel of the parish church and was unveiled during choral evensong. The same weekend, to mark both the millennium celebrations and the 40th anniversary of Gibbs’ death, the choral symphony Odysseus was performed in Chelmsford Cathedral. Choirs taking part were the Chelmsford Singers, The Lingwood Consort and the Camerata Singers from Great Baddow where Gibbs was born.
On a wider scale performances of his music have been led by the Guildhall Strings, the London Piano Trio and Robert Atchison, a professional violinist who lives near Danbury and who has done much to promote Gibbs’ work. Recent recordings include the Oboe Concerto and hitherto unpublished works including Crossings, a work which can be said to have launched his career. The Armstrong Gibbs Music Festival was launched in Danbury in 2008 and took place biennually until 2014.
The Society is indebted to Lyndon Rust, husband of Ann, Gibbs’ only daughter, who did all the initial work of cataloguing the music and providing the base on which the Catologue, Society and website could be built. Together they found homes for most of the master manuscripts with the Britten Pears Library and many scores are now safely housed in the Essex County Records Office. Ann, the first President of the Society, died in 2012 and Lyndon in 2013. The Society also owes much to Angela Aries, the first Secretary who also co-wrote ‘Armstrong Gibbs : A Countryman Born and Bred’, published in 2014.
In 2015 it was decided to move control of the Armstrong Gibbs Society into the hands of the Rust family because of the sad death of Christopher Kingsley, the first Chairman, and also because several staunch members of the Committee had moved away from Danbury. This means that the Society is no longer based in Essex where Gibbs was born and lived all his life. The AGM usually takes place in April in Berkshire or even Devon or Herefordshire where his grandchildren live.
We would encourage you to join the Society in order to support our endeavours, help sponsor concerts and promote recordings and be entitled to come to the AGM. Occasionally we send out newsletters although any news of concerts or recordings should be listed on our website. Items of interest or comments which contribute to his memory or musical reputation are most welcome via email or the News section of the website.