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Kingston Choral Society - join the club

PUBLISHED: 12:18 02 November 2011 | UPDATED: 17:08 20 February 2013

Kingston Choral Society - join the club

Kingston Choral Society - join the club

Over the last 60 years, Kingston Choral Society has survived everything from leaky ceilings and absent conductors to breaking into venues. As they celebrate their diamond anniversary, publicity officer Polly Ribet reveals all

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2010

Over the last 60 years, Kingston Choral Society has survived everything from leaky ceilings and absent conductors to breaking into venues. As they celebrate their diamond anniversary, publicity officer Polly Ribet reveals all

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When was the club set up?
The choir was founded in 1949 as a result of the mayor of Surbiton asking the local church choirs to band together to perform the Messiah. This request was made at the end of 1949 and the subsequent performance took place in St Andrews Church, Maple Road, in March 1950.

How often do you meet?
On Thursday evenings, from 8pm to 10pm at Hollyfield School in Surbiton.

Whats the best thing about being a member of the club?
The opportunity to create some great sounds together with fun people.

Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Oh, definitely, because we are all aiming for the same thing a fantastic performance and some fun along the way. Another great source of inspiration for us is our musical director Graham Ross, an accomplished and internationally-renowned young musician. At the moment, he is also rehearsing as assistant conductor for a new opera to be performed at Glyndebourne, and to be shown on the BBC this summer.

How many members do you have?

We have about 120 at the moment.

Do you have links with other clubs?
Not specifically, though we have joined forces with other choirs on occasions, such as Kingston University, West Sussex Philharmonic Choir and Fairfield County Choral from the United States.

Whats the most interesting story from the groups history?
A conductor was needed at short notice, following the abrupt departure of the musical director, with only four weeks to go until the concert. Robin Page agreed to step into the breach and stayed for 27 years.

and the funniest?
Singing in Kingston Parish Church during a rainstorm with the water loudly running into a bucket during the performance. A lady in the audience kindly sacrificed her scarf to put it into the bottom of the bucket to deaden the noise.

Then, on another occasion, we had to call a locksmith an hour before the concert because a lock had jammed on one of the church doors and access to the electricity switches was needed. The audience started to arrive with the spectacle of someone cutting through the door with an oxyacetylene torch.

When is your next event that is open to potential new members?
Potential members can either come along to our next concert (see details right) or come to any rehearsal to try us out and see what they think. If you want to join, there is a simple voice test no preparation is required nothing too terrifying! For more details, contact Denis Down at or on 0208 949 4961.

Describe your club in five words:
Inspiring, entertaining, sociable, friendly... and musical!

  • For more information about Kingston Choral Society and their 60th anniversary celebrations, call 0208 949 4961 or visit their website

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