Choral Society is not a choir or a club. We've all heard about High society, the café society and so on, which identify people collectively who share a common interest. There exists amongst singers a bond which identifies and unites them in the same way. So this web-site is for choral singers who are passionate about their singing. The site is organic and constantly being developed so please come back if you find something does not work or is incomplete. If you’d like to make a contribution, tell the Webmaster

achieved 17,483 hits in January!

This site is changing and developing as a result of your input and my self-indulgent additions! This web-site has become a Web Magazine for passionate choral singers. So from now on it will be known as the Choral Society WebMag. So what’s new?

What happens next year when there is a ‘10’ in the date?

Moving out of a ‘09 suffix means that we’ve put Mendelssohn, Haydn and Handel behind us so what do we do in ‘10? There’s, Chopin and Schumann born in 1810, Thomas Arne and Pergolesi in 1710. Samuel Barber in 1910. Not related to this but I know of at least three events featuring Gounod’s messe solennelle de Ste. Cecile.

If you are doing it and want to learn the Gounod, click here.

Many thanks to Bob Parnham of the Chesterfield Philhamonic Choir and others for helping.

Curious how this happens. Are choirs giving audiences enough variety? What do you think? Any ideas for 2010?

For SALE (still)

I have still have five copies for sale of Elgar’s The Kingdom at £9 each + postage.
Click on FEEDBACK in the next column if you are interested.

More news.

Can you help the Kathleen Ferrier Society? I have been contacted by David Whittaker as follows. “I am presently doing research for the Kathleen Ferrier Society. We are compiling a performance chronology of the great contralto's career, which we aim to complete for her centenary celebration in 2012.

I have discovered she sang in two performances of the Messiah at:
'The Regal Cinema' Chesterfield
on January 7th 1945 and
'The Regal Cinema' Chesterfield
on January 6th 1946

If you could find the time and you have access to this information would it be possible for you to give us any further details of these performances? Who the other soloists were? The orchestra? The conductor? (I feel sure it must have been the Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir?). The KFS would be very grateful for your co-operation, our Chronology will have two more completed performance details and there will be a record of the professional link between Ferrier and the Chesterfield Choir.”
Contact David at


Singing Holidays is a new venture, which takes amateur singers to Umbria, Italy for a week. During that time, guests will be treated to 2 hours of daily rehearsals plus some short rehearsals in idyllic locations. Contact Jeff Stewart

Where do you find your
professional soloists?

I am approached sometimes by choirs, wishing to find a professional soloist. Similarly, professionals ask me about opportunities. Recently I have had contact with Jill Davies who knows about these things. Recently she was asked to take on singers Concert Directory International so she has a list of sopranos, mezzos, tenors, bass-baritones, counter-tenors to offer. See Davies Music. Jill works frequently with choral societies. Kathryn Woodruff and Quentin Brown (below) are singing in Bach’s St. John Passion in Leeds with St. Peters’ Singers of Leeds on 15th February more



John Hooper is a like-minded singer, musician and doer of all the sort of things which would interest you. The title of his site is "John's (downloadable) Midi File Choral Music".


Find his re-named site at to his web-site at www.learnchoralmusic.co.uk where there are lots of Midi Files that might be of assistance to Choral Singers far and wide. Also very good advice on how to play midi files and what NOT to expect!

Ever had the SMITF experience?

St. Martin’s in the Fields is a magical venue for choral concerts. Bob Porter (Brandenburg sinfonia) is running his Spring Choral Festival there from January to March more

A regular and reliable contributor is the Orlando Chamber Choir based in London. Most of the members work in or around the City (which makes rehearsals near Paddington very convenient). Quite a few are students or working on a PhD. They are ‘audition only’ but the pic shows that there is more to being in a choir than singing!

See New Events for details of their next concert featuring Tallis and Byrd. Their striking poster is inspired by Escher.

Has anybody tried Warwick Audio? If you have then you’ll know that they offer concert recording, double audio CD with on-body printing, jewel case, colour insert and pay MCPS fees. All this FREE! What is your experience? See www.warwickaudio.com

One of many useful contributions from Brian Maskell is this. He has used NoteWorthy Scriptorium to prepare electronic versions of pieces for himself and fellow choristers are learning. He says it is a very versatile tool and fantastic value for money. He adds, “I am not on commission!”

Ever heard of MULAG?
Well, you have now!

In 2002, the Eastbourne and Hastings Music Libraries closed and their Music Librarians were made redundant or moved elsewhere. The Lewes Music Library was demolished and its music collection severely reduced.

So what happened to the music?

The music scores, reference books and recordings from all three libraries were either 'weeded out' and sold or put into storage.

These actions by East Sussex County Council have deprived local musicians, music lovers, teachers and students of an essential resource. MULAG was formed to campaign for long term Music Library provision. If you are concerned about this loss, please consider joining MULAG. You can read the the most recent Newsletter which I have by clicking here.

Go to www.mulag.org.uk. Register your interest who will keep you informed.

Two ‘High Note’ MULAG campaigners are Roy and Angela Goodall. They publish the excellent bi-monthly publication “Words and Music”, a valuable survey of the Performing Arts in Surrey, Sussex and Kent. I originally saw this about seven years ago in my local library (as in most) where it is distributed free. It has developed enormously so is worth ordering by post for £8 a year from R.S.C. Sparey, 14 Fox Close, Clapham, Bedford, MK41 6GF 01234 215953

A new aid from the USA to Learning the Notes. I don’t accept commercials or advertisements but if something interesting comes up for singers, I will include it in the editorial. SingleParts CDs are available to choral singers in the UK. I have had a look at this and think it is good. I personally continue to use midi files because I haven’t found anything why suits me better. Go to their web-site for more information and a demo. Tell me what you think by clicking FEEDBACK at the top of the next column.

Here’s something interesting; a site called Helping You Harmonise. It is all about Liz Garnett and what she as a professional musician, can offer singers. In her own words “Helping You Harmonise offers ideas to help choral directors and singers in vocal ensembles to rehearse and perform more effectively.” We now have reciprocal links because we both feel that we can benefit one another. Take a look. It’s an interesting site. www.helpingyouharmonise.com

Requiem for Jan Palach.
This Requiem, written in July, 2008, was first performed in Luxembourg and is now recorded on CD. Scores are available from the website www.bullockmusic.info.
Read about the music and Jan Palach here

Liturgical Music Courses. In Exeter, Malvern and Wells. Not heard from them but I should think they’ll be doing similarly in 2010. web-site.

A new contributor is the Buckland & Betchworth Choral Society. I have known of them for quite a long time but they have just decided to enter the limelight with a new web-site bbcs.org.uk. This should be up and running over the next few days but in the meantime you can read details sent to me by Chris (a lady Chris) Harris. more

“The Choral Society” a novel by Prue Leith to be published in 2009. She’s not just a foodie! This is about relationships in a choir. Read the STEAMY SYNOPSIS!.

The Robert Bouffler Music Trust

If you’ve heard of The Robert Bouffler Music Trust, you will know that it was established in 1988 to sustain the spirit and objectives of the late Robert Bouffler's work, by encouraging and supporting young musicians from the East Surrey area. Michael Barlow conductor of the Hurst Green Singers (Surrey, not the Sussex) has been appointed their Musical Adviser. I have attended the RBMT concerts and many of the musicians are outstanding.

My apologies - again!
Sorry if I am being a bit slow. Technical problems. Backup drive failed but thanks to belt and braces... Singing also got in the way a bit!

If you click on FEEDBACK you can send me a message or request without having to e-mail

Please, please give this site a link to yours. It is mutually beneficial. If you want a logo, right-click to download and save here. Please make the link to this site simply as
Don’t point to specific files because their location might change!

Calendar & Choirs pages have been revised

English Music Festival 2010 was wonderful. Go there next year!

The English Music Festival based in Dorchester-on-Thames presented English music, English composers and music from The British Isles.

This was the first time that the English Music Festival organised a Choral Workshop, directed by their chairman and vice-president, Brian Kay. About 45 singers took part in Dorchester Abbey here.


Details of the entire Festival can be found on www.englishmusicfestival.org.uk Some superb things were performed at the Festival, including 4 world premieres!

Something new in combinations
For the first time, The Martineau Singers and Martineau Brass performed in South Holmwood, Dorking. Apart from Rutter and Vaughan Williams they performed something new from composer Alex Campkin (see next column). It was very well received both by the singers and audience. Expect more from this combination.

Singing Season in full swing.
What are you doing about recruitment? Don’t wait until next year.

Capriol Chamber Choir, directed by Graham Dinnage, based near Westerham in Kent is seeking experienced singers to boost their numbers. Capriol has given recitals for mainstream music societies such as the RVW Society. Mardi Brass has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and has appeared on BBC TV and radio. Enquiries to the choir secretary
Vivienne Cox or ‘phone 01732 866372.

Dorking Choral Society invite more men. Their next concert is a 4th July celebration followed by a BBQ. Music includes Whitacre, Tippett Negro Spirituals, Cole Porter and their Prize Winning Holst Nunc Dimittis. Interesed to sing? Contact Ges Ray, their Chairman. ges.ray@virgin.net

Cantamus Reigate’s conductor Nick Landauer found lots of tenors last year but is always keen to recruit all voices to sing in his ad hoc choirs. Too late to sing in their concert on 15th May but you can still go and listen!

City Chorus (aka National Westminster City Chorus) celebrates its big birthday next year (don’t ask a girl how old she is). The organisers are already working hard on the project and if you would like to help with funding, Caroline Weiner would be pleased to hear from you!
Contact her on citychorus.info


Last winter,the eighty voices of City Chorus were accompanied by Joanna Forbes and the L'Estranges in the Night quartet. Joanna is a former musical director, and Alexander L'Estrange a former bassist/arranger for the Swingle Singers.

Last year I attended one of Alex’s workshops entitled “You can sing ... But can you Swing?”


It was conducted by Alex, the writer of Zimbe! (see below) other African and Gospel music. Now this was really something special and a new adventure for choral ‘traditional’ singers. You can buy his score but why not ask him to run a Workshop with your choir? He also does similarly for schools.
See his web-site here. Try it!

On 9th May, Alex and Joanna conducted a commercial recording of Zimbe! This is his composition of African songs which takes you on a whirlwind tour of life in an African village. Expect news here of the CD release. Zimbe! was commissioned by the Dorking Choral Society.


Hugh asks:
“Are you going to Nairobi before the 19th June? Do you know anyone who is going to Nairobi? Do you have friends in BA or any other airlines who fly to Kenya who could take some CDs with them as extra luggage. We have the stock here in East Finchley, North London and will willingly pay any excess baggage charge.
100 CDs weighs 10kg.”

Please contact Hugh and Susan L'Estrange as below. Thank you.

Hugh L¹Estrange, 37 Park Hall Road, East Finchley London N2 9PT UK
TEL: +44 (0)20 8883 3445
FAX: +44 (0)20 8444 0339 M 07973 300480 hugh.lestrange@saffirepress.co.uk

If you fancy singing the African Premiere of Zimbe! in Nairobi, Kenya, be there on Saturday, 19 June 2010 19:30 - 22:30 Venue: Braeburn School Concert Hall, Nairobi, Kenya. Esther Jones (Royal School of Church Music) will be conducting the Safaricom Choir.

This is a public event. Contact Esther from her web-site if you are interested. Virgin Atlantic will take you to Nairobi for a bit over £400 - and bring you back!

Can’t get to Nairobi? Then see it here
Eastbourne Choral Society's Saturday 26th June Concert – Zimbe and Little Jazz Mass (Bob Chilcott). All Saints’ Church, Grange Road Eastbourne 7.30pm. more

Birmingham Town Hall on Friday 2nd July at 7.30pm complete with all the Jazz bits!

Old news, I know but worth mentioning again. Last year 40 members of the Dorking Choral Society performed Zimbe! at the Ryedale Music Festival. This is a collection of African songs which was commissioned by DCS from composer Alexander L'Estrange.


The choir was joined by over 50 singers who took part in a workshop earlier in the day. In the first part of the concert, Dorking Choral Society sang a collection of African songs, many written by their conductor Justin Doyle. Justin spent time teaching in Kenya where he collected 75 recordings of songs which are an intuitive part of daily life. He said the Kenyan’s never sing flat! The concert was a sell-out. The choir’s faithful accompanist Gavin Roberts, had to rush to catch a train to Ghent where he was giving an organ recital the next day! The composer Alexander L'Estrange also took part in the performance where he played double-bass with his accompanying Jazz group.

Do you ever complain and wish somebody would listen?

There was an interesting item on Radio 4’s Today programme which I followed up. There is a complaints organisation called Complaints Choirs Worldwide here and if you want a bit of fun, go to this item on YouTube. The things which people complain about (up with this I will not put) transcend nationalities and geographical boundaries. Why not compose your own piece and I will post it on this site.

Singers, why not take a rest from singing on Sunday 16th May and go to Tango Fiesta? This is a concert of popular Latin-American music; tangos, mambo, samba, rumba. Venue: Guildford Spectrum. More

Are you good enough to sing with the English Arts Chorale?

Reigate-based English Arts Chorale has embarked upon a mammoth project to prepare Bach's St Matthew Passion, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony. Remaining concert in July. Experienced singers are invited to two or three rehearsals, after which they will be required to attend an audition including sight-reading. If you think you are up to the tusk, contact their membership secretary on members@englisharts.org

Something to add to this site?
If you click here you can fill in a form to send to Johann Sebesten Bark, the Webmaster. Or if you would like some midi files sent to you, then click here.

Would you like the opportunity to discus ‘things’ on this site? For example, what do you think about auditioning? A board can be arranged but will it be worth all the work?

Want to know what other choirs are doing in 2010? Conflicting dates are always a worry when deciding when to hold your concerts. Here is a new facility to check what is on when you might be considering a date. See what other choirs are doing, add your own, enter your events. This does not replace the New Events pages which are primarily for your retail customers to see. Either navigate from the Calendar & Choirs drop-down button below Useful Links or go there now.

More here soon about Good Friday opportunities to sing Mozart’s Requiem in Barkingside and Seaford. In Belmont, Sutton you can sing Fauré.

Know the name Gareth Malone?

If you do, it is because you have been following his choral programmes on BBC TV. If you don’t, you will have missed out on how he’s made singing Cool to reluctant young men. You’ve also missed out on his creation of the South Oxhey Community Choir and the South Oxhey Youth Choir. More soon. southoxheychoirs.org

How far is far?. So far, New Orleans

One of the singers of Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, named Ginger, asked for some help on Bernstein’ Chichester Psalms. I was delighted to answer her and in passing, I said I lived about 60 miles from Chichester. She replied,
“WHAT??!!!! In England??!! Ohmygawd! Oh well I shouldn't be surprised; I just thought that this was a web site from the American Chorus Society! Great!”

The site is worth a visit. You can always learn something from other choirs.

Sing Hallelujah was
a nationwide project run by the BBC to encourage people across the UK to find their voices and discover the joy of singing.
Find out the latest at www.bbc.co.uk/sing/

New Requiem for choirs.

Philip Ledger's new Requiem "A thanksgiving for life", was written for performance by choral societies. p-ledger_pCommissioned by William Owen and the Choir of Christ Church, Christiana Hundred, USA, the choir gave World Premiere on 4th November 2007.
English Arts Chorale is going to sing this.

More information about Ledger scores from Encore Publications in Matfield.
Contact Tim Rogers 01892 725548 info@encorepublications.com

There are loadsa singers who perform to help others. On Sunday 20 June at 3 pm, the Ladybirds Choir with Helena Twentyman is giving an afternoon concert followed by tea and cake. This will be a fun afternoon with music from the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter plus.
Venue: United Reformed Church Hall, West Street, Dorking.
Tickets £6 from 01306 880160 or
01306 884726 or at the door. More

Profits go to to Headley Court (Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre) and Surrey Association for Visual Impairment (SAVI) which helps blind and partially sighted people in Surrey, and to provide services so they may lead fuller, more independent lives.

Can you help Chris Harris, please? She tells me “Burrows Lea Country House, Shere, near Guildford, Surrey is holding a charity Proms event in the grounds on 17th July. Unfortunately the singing group booked has had to drop out so we are desperately seeking another to open the event, preferably with a range of traditional folk songs (although we will consider other music).” Could you rustle up a group from your choir? Alternatively, Chris would be pleased to make up the group herself from any individuals interested. E-mail her here.

Read more Brian here soon about his Workshop at the Caterham Festival organised by Jill Caudle.

Leith Hill Musical Festival

The Festival took place from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th April. It was very well attended both by singers and audience. Here are some early results. More results will be published here when they are received.

The Division 3 winners were as follows.
Full chorus - Epsom CS.
Men’s song - Epsom CS
Women’s song - Epsom CS
Madrigal - Leatherhead CS
Part song - Epsom CS
Own choice - Dorking CS (Holst’s Nunc Dimittis)
Ensemble - Dorking CS (pictured below)


The winning Dorking Ensemble (left to right) comprised Stephanie Wright, James Glaysher, Sue Mahony, Nick Wright, Helena Twentyman, John Berbuto and Sara Friday. The eighth member was Mike Moseling.


Brian Kay (pictured above at rehearsal) said it was the best Bach’s St John Passion ever. Reviewer Simon Ames said
 “First performed on Good Friday in 1724 in Leipzig, Bach's exalted music makes big demands on the choral elements of the work. The dramatic force and poignancy of the story comes from the chorus speaking for the populace, soldiers and priests. The composer's contrapuntal score generates the deepest sense of immediacy, cruelty and confusion. The festival choir created all those expressions with strong entries and with a convincing, flowing style.

The gravitas of the performance was augmented by top class deliveries from the six soloists, notably from the experienced tenor Huw Rhys-Evans who narrated as the Evangelist to perfection. Equally convincing was Samuel Evans (bass) whose measured pace as Christus captured the dignity of the sacred story.

Musical instruments of the baroque period are a feature of the Canzona ensemble whose leader Theresa Caudle brings a wealth of experience to this outstanding orchestral sound.

Robin Gritton's role as chorus master had brought the choir to a high technical standard, polished to near perfection by the urbane Brian Kay whose masterly direction from the rostrum captured the power and the glory of Bach's great work in a way that is delightfully unique to this great music festival.”

Find out what’s on next! For more information go to lhmf.co.uk or more

Langlais Festival 2010. Vacancies in particular for a couple of sopranos. Once again, Brenda Dean is running her BMW (Brittany Music workshop) between 25th - 29th July. Full details on the site. This is incredibly good value because it includes some personal tuition.


Five days of stimulating music including
Holst - Nunc Dimittis)
Widor - Messe in F (opus 36)
Langlais - Messe d'Escalquens and Lauda Jerusalem.

She planning something big for 2011, the 20th anniversary of the death of Jean Langlais. More

Wingrave Singers (see more below) ran a workshop on 6th March which was funded by the BBC Performing Arts Fund, a charity that was set up within the BBC in 2003 to help everyone achieve their musical ambitions, from choirs, hip hop artists and musical theatre performers to folk musicians. Since its inception the fund has awarded over 3m to aspiring musicians, performers and groups across a range of genres through funding instruments, training and development.

To learn more about what the fund does and how you can apply, visit the website

The road from the City of Destruction
to the Celestial City leading to a
Box of Delights.

Dorking Camerata began the year on 6th March with a specially sequence of words and music devised by Aidan Oliver, based on Bunyan's classic morality tale.
Their next concert - Box of Delights - is on Sunday 27th June. I am told that the programme is “The most beautiful and inspiring set of modern items we have ever put together.” See if you agree! It is a picnic concert in the delightful setting of St Barnabas church on Ranmore Common, Dorking, next to Denbies vineyard. more

Here’s a new choir - well, nearly new.

The UCS Centenary Choir was formed as a direct result of University College School’s centenary celebrations in 2008. (Zingy web-site.)The singers had such a good time that they just kept going! There are about 100 members at present and the only requirement for joining is an ability to sing in tune, hold a part, and most of all, be enthusiastic. Membership is open to all SATB singers. You don’t have to be a pupil, parent or anything like that. They meet at the school in Frognal, Hampstead, North London. Next concert is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. more

Concert at St. Margaret the Queen, Buxted Park. Saturday 9th October

Lev Parikian with chorus and orchestra.
See more pics here

The Buxted Event has now run for 15 years. The 2009 concert was a sell out. This was a Voices for Hospices event and over £4,000 was raised for the St. Peter & St. James Hospice, Sussex.

Music for this year is Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Coronation anthem ‘Let thy hand be strengthened’. Learn Vivaldi for Buxted plus the latest Buxted news here.
Date is Saturday October 9th with a workshop day on Saturday October 2nd – church, conductor and organist are booked so please put it in your diaries and tell your friends. Tell David Waddington if you’d like to take part. dwaddington@talktalk.net

By request this link is left at the request of singers who want to Learn Brahms’ Requiem - click here

This item about Robin Milford, composer, was introduced to me by Nick Landauer, Conductor of Cantamus Reigate. Robin grew up in Surrey.

Thanks to response from David Pettigrew, Publicity Manager of Epsom Choral Society, I can tell you this. “this Society (Epsom) was founded by Sir Humphrey Milford in 1922 in order to give his son Robin experience as a choral conductor in the Leith hill Musical Festival.

He was a pupil of Vaughan Williams and Holst and was a lifelong friend of Gerald Finzi, all of whom influenced his music. Mainly in the 'English' style, it includes choral, solo and chamber music, cantatas, a symphony and an Oratorio. He took over the direction of the Leith Hill choir, Dorking. Nick is very interested in performing some of Robin's works. I am considering making this a feature on this site, provided there is more than one choir interested in exploring Milford. Please contact me Webmaster if this resonates with you. (See Cantamus Reigate on New Events.)

Wingrave Singers new Conductor controls 75 at their Workshop

Wingrave Singers conductor, Alexander Campkin, directed a whole day Workshop earlier in March. 75 singers took part. He is a young high-flyer, representative of the new wave of high calibre of musicians. See his web-site www.alexandercampkin.co.uk

Based in Wingrave, near Aylesbury, . Buckinghamshire this friendly mixed voice choir of about 25 singers. They have a wide repertoire of religious and secular music. The choir have a strong background of visiting cathedrals around the country. Their recent concert in Coventry Cathedral was a big success. They sang some of Alex’s work.


This is a robed choir (pictured with Alex in Coventry Cathedral) when singing in cathedrals, church services and weddings. The choir rehearse weekly in term time on a Friday evening in Wingrave Parish Church from 7.45pm to 9.30pm. Interested?
Click Brenda Dean for more information or ‘phone 01296 688976.
Latest from Shalford Choral Society

Shalford Choral Society (near Guildford) appointed Matthew Jelf as their new Music Director. Since Matthew took over Shalford Choral Society in December, he has seen them through a very successful Christmas concert and the 2010 Leith Hill Music Festival. Matthew reports that the choir performed extremely well and received very positive reports across the board. Matthew was also pleased to receive positive feedback on his individual input as a conductor in the competition from the judges. The choir are currently planning for their 2011 season which boasts a Christmas concert of the Britten Ceremony of Carols and William Lloyd Webber's cantata A King is Born.