MEMBERS of Wantage Choral Society are having a busy end to the year.

Last month they enjoyed a successful concert at the Wantage (not just) Betjeman Literary Festival that featured the première of a new piece by the group’s conductor, while this Saturday it will perform Handel’s Messiah and on December 12 it will get residents into the Christmas spirit with an evening of readings and carols.

The three concerts - all held at SS Peter and Paul Church in Wantage - provide a very varied programme of music.

Geoff Williams, a member of Wantage Choral Society, said: “It is inspiring to sing such a range of different types of choral concerts, from the modern to the traditional, from the simplicity of carols to the complexity of great works of music, and I think the audience will have a very enjoyable evening at both the remaining concerts.”

The concert at SS Peter and Paul Church on October 26 combined an evening of poetry by John Betjeman and music including the first performance of the choral work Didcot Haiku.

Trains were one of the passions of the former Poet Laureate and Wantage resident Betjeman and Didcot Haiku was written by Wantage Choral Society conductor Paul Burke, who used words from poems by James Potter, an Oxford musician and writer who was inspired by his regular commute through Didcot Parkway station.

Burke, who took up his post with the choral society in September 2012, is already a prolific composer and his music has been broadcast on Radio 3 and Channel 4.

The group’s performance of Handel’s Messiah at 7.30pm on Saturday will be an opportunity for lovers of this work to hear the first performance in the local area for many years, other than as a singalong.

Meanwhile, the concert of Christmas readings and carols on Saturday, December 12, is a new venture for the choral society.

It will not be a traditional service of nine lessons and carols, but the readings will all have a seasonal flavour or reflect Christmas festive spirit.

Wantage Choral Society is a mixed voice choir of about 70 singers, drawn from Wantage and surrounding towns and villages.

Its regular rehearsal venue is the Wantage Primary School in Newbury Street where members meet at 7.30 pm on Mondays.

They are always happy to accept new members and there is no audition.

Tickets for the concerts this Saturday and on Saturday, December 12, are available from the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage, by telephoning 01235 798349, from members of the choir or at the concert door.