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Surrey Festival Choir – join the club

PUBLISHED: 11:12 11 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:15 20 February 2013

Surrey Festival Choir – join the club

Surrey Festival Choir – join the club

Every month, we find out about a different club or society in the county and what they get up to. In our latest instalment, we discover why Surrey Festival Choir seems to have hit the right note with singers all over the county and beyond...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazineMarch 2012

Every month, we find out about a different club or society in the county and what they get up to. In our latest instalment, we discover why Surrey Festival Choir seems to have hit the right note with singers all over the county and beyond...

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In a nutshell: Surrey Festival Choir stages an annual concert at Guildford Cathedral during the Guildford Summer Festival. It draws singers from Surrey and the surrounding counties to rehearse a major choral work that is then performed with professional soloists and orchestra in Guildford Cathedral. In keeping with the founder Sir Ralph Vaughan Williams passion for bringing music into the lives of everyone, no auditions are required for joining the choir.
Person interviewed: Jane Evans
Role in group: Publicity officer
Been a member for: 30 years
Joined because of a love of choral singing with like-minded people.

When was the club set up?
Sir Ralph Vaughan Williams founded the Surrey County Music Association in 1941 and Surrey Festival Choir was formed out of this in 1961, when it gave its first performance in the year of the consecration of Guildford Cathedral.

How many members do you have in the group?
In any year, typically 250 singers enrol.

Where do you meet?
In common with most choral societies, Surrey Festival Choir doesnt have a fixed venue but meets at hired premises during the rehearsal period. Rehearsals are held in Dorking and Guildford, and performances at Guildford Cathedral. General correspondence should be sent to the secretary at Allt Na Crioch, Ockham Road South, East Horsley KT24 6QJ (tel: 01483 282442).

Whats the best thing about being a member?
The opportunity to sing great choral music with like-minded, friendly people.

Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Yes, absolutely particularly at the end of the annual concert. After six weeks of hard work, there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and well-being, that together we have perhaps performed a great choral work well and given pleasure both to the audience, hopefully our conductor and ourselves. There is also the accompanist who has played for us during rehearsals sometimes a particular part again and again until we got the notes right! They need the patience of saints and are the unsung heroes/heroines!

Have you got links with other clubs as well?
Over 60 choral societies in Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and London are invited to send singers.

Whats the most interesting story from the groups history?
Surrey Festival Choir celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.

and the funniest?
In 1989, when torrential rain suddenly started falling on the roof of Guildford Cathedral as we were singing... and the waters they rush along.... during a performance of Mendelssohns Elijah. Both singers and audience found it difficult to keep a straight face including the then Bishop of Guildford.

When is your next event that is open to the public/potential new members?
Our annual concert takes place this year on Saturday July 7 at 7.30pm at Guildford Cathedral. Rehearsals commence on Thursday May 31 at 7.45pm at the United Reformed Church, 53 West Street, Dorking RH4 1BS. The works being performed are Pergolesis Magnificat as well as the Mozart Requiem and his work Serenata Notturna K239 (instrumental).

Describe your club to us in five words...
A friendly gathering of singers.

  • For more information about getting involved with Surrey Festival Choir and their annual concert, pay a visit to their website at

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