Choirs of Chiswick are recruiting, which one should you join?

Image above: West London Chorus in St Michael All Angels church

Chiswick residents spoilt for choice

Singing in a choir is widely recognised as a very positive thing for your mental health. Not only is it the team aspect of working together with a group to achieve something, one would hope harmoniously, but the physical impact of opening your mouth wide and taking in deep breaths has a positive physical impact on the body. Then there is the social life and the friends you make to be considered.

Chiswick is home to a number of amateur choirs, which have been running for decades and are held in high regard. If you’re a singer, or an aspiring one, and you are considering joining one of our local choirs read on.

Image above: West London Chorus

West London Chorus

Originally called Chiswick Choir, West London Chorus was founded in 1976 in W4 by John Thackray. It changed its name a year ago when it made a professional recording and the American recording company thought ‘Chiswick Choir’ too parochial.

READ ALSO: Chiswick Choir changes name to make professional recording

Between 1984 and 2015 the choir was conducted by Alistair Jones and since January 2016 the choir has flourished under the direction of award-winning composer and conductor Hilary Campbell, who has, according to Tony Speakman, West London Chorus’ Chair, “transformed the sound and changed the choir beyond recognition”.

The Chorus is an amateur choir so anyone can apply, but new members must go through an audition process. This is more of a formality, says Tony, rather than a selection process, to see where you might belong in the choir, as members have a broad range of skills and levels of music knowledge.

“As a registered charity our purpose is to spread the understanding of classical music and choral tradition, so we always want as broad a cross-section as possible,” said Tony, “but we try to balance that out with maintaining a very high standard”.

From January, in addition to regular rehearsals, West London Chorus will be putting on a voluntary hour where choir members can come to develop their singing techniques.

Choral scholars take the sessions, an innovation brought in a few years to promote higher standards in the choir. Working with them quickly lifts the standards of the amateurs.

Image above: West London Chorus

2023 programme of work

They have three significant concerts in 2023, with Spring’s concert on 1 April being Leonard Bernstein Chichester Psalms & Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs (described by Tony as “quite a different piece of work which not many choirs tackle”).

The third and final piece in the spring concert will be Cecilia McDowall’s A Time for All Seasons. Cecilia is a renowned composer and a Chiswick resident who has recently became a patron of the choir.

Summer’s programme has been reorganised slightly to choose numbers relevant to King Charles’ coronation. The Summer concert will be held on 1 July, comprising John Rutter’s Gloria, Anton Bruckner’s Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, Edward Elgar’s O Harken Thou and finally Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s I Was Glad. 

The winter programme consists of Bach’s Magnificat, and Vivaldi’s Gloria, performed on 2 December.

The Chorus is planning to take a field trip to Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff this year, where they will stand in for the church’s resident choir while they take a break. Previously, the amateur choir has stood in for other professional choirs across the UK, most recently in York.

“It is always quite an honour to be selected to stand in for a professional choir” says Tony.

Why should you join West London Chorus and not one of the other groups in Chiswick & West London? Tony’s answer to this is:

“Along the years I’ve sung with lots of different groups, but the thing that really makes us different these days is Hilary. She’s a new generation of choral director, she’s in her 30s, she’s a professional musician, she’s got a fabulous skill set and ear, she’s a singer herself.

“When she’s directing us, she really gets it… It’s very refreshing to have this new lifeblood.”

West London Chorus rehearse on Tuesdays, their venue is under review due to their popularity but will always be in the Chiswick area. You can join or contact for more information on their website.

westlondonchorus.co.uk

Image above: The Addison Singers

The Addison Singers 

The Addison Singers have two classical choirs – an auditioned chamber choir and larger non-auditioned oratorio Choir – and two jazz choirs – an auditioned Jazz Ensemble and a larger non-auditioned all-female Jazz Choir. It also offers three different singing classes to meet the needs of beginners, intermediate and the more competent, experienced singer.

The choir normally operates on three 10-week terms (the same as school terms) with a concert or recital at the end of each term. Rehearsals are held in Hammersmith on Monday evenings (jazz and vocal technique and development), Tuesday evenings (and sight singing with confidence class), Wednesday evenings (classical choirs) and Thursday afternoons (musicianship for singers class).

The times and subscriptions depend on which choir or class you join. Concerts are usually held in west London – Acton, Turnham Green, Notting Hill and Barnes.

In January, the classical choirs (chamber and oratorio) will have a new musical director, Matthew Thomas Morgan.

Matthew has been in demand in large scale projects throughout his career both as a soloist and conductor. He was Director of Music at St. Mary’s College, Durham University and as Chorus Master for the Durham University Music Society.

He was appointed in April 2016 as the Musical Director of Parenthesis Choir, Reading, and was the first Assistant Conductor to the Hastings Philarmonic Choir & Orchestra.

He describes his musical tastes as “clectic and eccentric”.

“If it is pop music, it needs to be 1980’s; if its orchestral, give me the voluptuous sonorities of Delius; Oscar Peterson works for me on the piano in jazz styles and I did once go to a heavy metal concert at the Astoria, which is probably where my hair went…

“I never apologise for liking attractive tunes, or programming works from the established choral repertoire. I also love working with new arrangements or reimaginations of old works.”

While he is yet to take over, he told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The friendly warmth of the choir membership is a big draw. Their commitment to excellence in their music making and mission to educate as well as entertain. The choirs make a warm and inspiring sound which is a delight to listen to.”

Image above: Addison Jazz artwork; Addison Jazz Ensemble performing at St Michael and All Angels Church, Bath Rd

2023 programme of work

Their first concert of the year is on 25 March.

Programme, Oratorio Choir

Gerald Finzi – Lo, the full, final sacrifice Op. 26
Gerald Finzi – Let us now praise famous men, Op. 35
John Rutter – Requiem
Ralph Vaughan Williams – Let us now praise famous men

Programme, Chamber Choir: Herbert Howells – Requiem

While there may be additions, Matthew said there will be a fantastic showpiece of Haydn The Creation in the autumn of 2023, as well as “some gorgeous settings of Requiem texts and music reflecting on life and beyond”. The Spring and Summer programme includes folk songs and other lighter-hearted musical choices.

The first Jazz Choirs’ concert will be on 1 April

Programme, Jazz Choir

Someone to watch over me
They say its spring (with Jazz Ensemble)
Don’t you worry about a thing
Hotta chocolatta
Steam heat
Can’t buy me love
Don’t worry, be happy (Joint number with Jazz Ensemble)

Programme, Jazz Ensemble

We’ve only just begun
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen (with Jazz Choir)
What is this thing called love and Come spring
I can see clearly now
Better git it in your soul
Bye bye Blackbird

Don’t worry, be happy (Joint number with Jazz Choir)

You can join or contact them for more information through their website.

addisonsingers.com

Image above: Hogarth Singers in concert

Hogarth Singers

Hogarth Singers is a chamber choir in Chiswick, set up as a registered charity with the intention of ‘promoting a love of choral music and developing public education in the art and science of music’ through performing public concerts and recitals.

Sian Mexsom, one of the choir’s trustees, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“If you are looking to join a choir this term, then join Hogarth Singers! We are a friendly, sociable choir based in Chiswick and we would love to welcome new members. New tenors and basses are especially welcome, and we offer a special subscription rate of £10 per term for any new singers under 25.”

The choir has has around 40-50 members and sing a wide range of choral music, both sacred and secular. They have built a good reputation for presenting high quality performances in a friendly atmosphere.

Like the other choirs, they also perform three concerts each year and organise other events which enable the choir to sing in new settings and to enjoy some more sociable experiences, not always involving singing. Their most recent concert was in the Autumn, where the choir performed Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. They have not yet published their upcoming programme of work for 2023.

While they are a non-auditioning choir, the music director will check any new member’s voice. Though organisers say, however, it would be ‘very useful’ to have some choral experience and the ability to read music.

They rehearse on Monday evenings at St Michael and All Angels Church in Bath Rd.

For more information on joining, you can go to their website, email hogarthsingers@gmail.com,  or call 07747 490422.

hogarthsingers/join

Image above: Katy Seath leading the Chiswick Rock Choir at December’s flower market 

Rock Choir Chiswick

The Rock Choir Chiswick is a local franchise of what is quite a large company nationwide.

Rock Choir is the UK’s ‘leading contemporary award-winning choir experience offering local weekly rehearsals, performances and life-affirming events to more than 400 towns and communities across the UK.’

Rock Choir was created by singer and musician, Caroline Redman Lusher and remains a family-run organisation originating in Farnham, Surrey in 2005. She initiated a brand new, accessible and glamorous approach to contemporary community singing which grew quickly and dramatically from small beginnings into what it is today.

Rock Choir is recognised as the first of its kind to offer a no-audition and no-requirement-to-read-music choir experience in the UK and invites anyone with any level of musical experience to join. It attracts everyone who loves to sing pop and contemporary songs.

With local weekly rehearsals, social events, extra workshops, weekends abroad, performances, charity performances and national events, a Rock Choir Member can choose as much or as little involvement as they like.

New members may decide to wait until they are confident to perform whilst others throw themselves into the Rock Choir Experience and fill their diaries with exciting performances and social events.

‘It’s all about singing, fun, your local community, friendship and life-changing experiences!’

The choir leader for Chiswick is Katy Seath, an accomplished singer, pianist and teacher who studied drama at Manchester University and reached the semi finals of national competition Urban Voice UK. She is the lead vocalist for the group Bassistry and conducts creative arts workshops as a performing arts specialist for the company Artis.

Strand-on-the-Green Junior School, Thames Road, Chiswick W4 3NX
facebook.com/RockChoirChiswick
01252714276

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