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Elmbridge Music - join the club

PUBLISHED: 11:40 12 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 20 February 2013

Elmbridge Music - join the club

Elmbridge Music - join the club

Meet the members of Elmbridge Music who sound like they have a fabulous time of it – from Christmas concerts in Prague to being picked up from Cobham in a red double-decker bus. Here, founder of the society, Cliff van Tonder, tells all

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2010

This month, we meet the members of Elmbridge Music who sound like they have a fabulous time of it from Christmas concerts in Prague to being picked up from Cobham in a red double-decker bus. Here, founder and musical director of the society, Cliff van Tonder, tells us all about them Photograph by Pete Gardner

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When was the club set up?
First of all, Elmbridge Choir was set up in September 2005 to enable people from all walks of life, regardless of musical ability, to enjoy and experience the joy of choral singing. The choirs popularity has steadily grown and a second choir, the Elmbridge Ladies Choir, was formed in February 2009. Later that year, the Elmbridge Community Big Band was formed and the Elmbridge Young Musicians were incorporated to complete the Elmbridge Community Music Society (or Elmbridge Music as we are known).

How many members do you have now?
Altogether, Elmbridge Music has just over 300 members.

Whats the best thing about being a member of the club?
The opportunity to sing or play a musical instrument for pure enjoyment. There is no scary audition process and all sections of the society are extremely friendly and welcoming. The choirs perform a varied and ever-increasing repertoire ranging from fun-filled 60s medleys and songs from the musicals to the beautiful harmonies of African music. The bands perform a wide range of jazz and popular classics. We are always looking for ways to give members new experiences from trying different music styles to performing at different concert locations.

How often do you meet?
Elmbridge Choir, the big band and the ladies choir rehearse weekly and our young musicians meet fortnightly on Saturdays during term time. Each section will also perform up to four or five concerts a year.

Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Absolutely! We have fun but we are all committed to working hard. With few exceptions, every concert we perform raises money for a chosen charity. It is evident that our members singing and playing enjoyment is clearly enhanced in the knowledge that they are helping others by giving support to charity.

Whats the most interesting story from the groups history?
In 2008, Elmbridge Choir was invited to attend the Advent Choral Festival in Prague a truly wonderful and magical experience. One hundred and twenty members and partners spent four fantastic days together exploring this beautiful city we even had our Christmas party on a boat cruise along the Vitava River. Keeping the cold out in our red fleecy hats and scarves, we performed two open-air concerts in the Christmas markets in the Old Town Square and at the festival finale gala concert alongside choirs and musical groups from all over Europe. Such a feeling of Christmas cheer!

and the funniest?
Travelling to and from a concert in a traditional London double-decker bus. We hired the bus for the afternoon to take us up to one of our earliest concerts. The choir members were expecting a coach to pick them up in Cobham so imagine the looks on their faces when this large red bus came round the corner! In scenes reminiscent of Summer Holiday, we attracted plenty of attention from shoppers and passers-by as we sang our way through the streets on a rainy Saturday afternoon!

When is your next event that is open to the public?
Elmbridge Ladies Choir will be performing a charity concert on Saturday October 2 to raise funds for the Surrey branch of the Breast Cancer Campaign, and all sections of Elmbridge Music will be joining together to perform two Christmas concerts at Leatherhead Theatre on Saturday December 11.

Describe your club in five words...
Welcoming, entertaining, rewarding, fun and fabulous!

  • For full details of all Elmbridge Musics concerts and how to join them, visit their website,, or call them on 0844 588 5889.

If youd like to see your club featured in this series, send an e-mail to the editor at

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