The Choral Society is a mixed adult choir of about 100 voices, open to anybody from the Horsham area who enjoys singing. The Choral Society has a lot of fun but tackles challenging music. We rehearse on Thursday evenings at Christ’s Hospital during term time from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. The choir holds no auditions, but expects members to be able to sing in tune, and to take music away to practice between rehearsals.
The choir gives four concerts a year with a wide range of repertoire. The first, in November, is usually with an organ or small orchestra. We then give a Christmas Concert of carols, readings and community hymns in Christ’s Hospital Chapel followed by mince pies and wine in the Dining Hall. In March we join forces with CH Chapel Choir and orchestra to perform a major choral work in Big School. The final concert is in June and consists of shorter, lighter repertoire, often preceded by a picnic in the Quad.
History of the CH Choral Society
The choral society was originally one of several choirs at Christ’s Hospital (or CH as it is often known) and comprised mainly pupils (boys), staff both academic and administrative, Old Blues, parents and a few others with connections to the school. It was led by the Musical Director who in 1980 was Malcom Mckelvey, and performed at the “school concert” in November which was part choir and part orchestral. In 1982 the choir gave a performance of “The Messiah”.
In 1985 Peter Allwood became Musical Director and he began rehearsing pupils and adults separately, both on a Thursday evening. John Shippen who taught Geography became the accompanist and a small committee was formed to organise concerts etc. to relieve Peter of that burden. This comprised John Gaynor, Old Blue (OB), (Chairman), Headmaster’s secretary (Treasurer) and secretary of the music school (librarian).
Later on CH decided to extend it’s musical outreach to the community. Tim Callaghan (Head of strings) formed a children’s orchestra, Peter and his wife Ros together with Cynthia Maddren formed the Horsham Children’s choir and CHCS expanded to become a community Choir with paid conductor and accompanist. On John Shippen’s retirement no other member of staff was able to help so a professional accompanist was sought and we have been happy to have Caroline with us ever since.
Angus Ross was a distinguished Old Blue, benefactor and governor. When he died in 1984 his family set up a fund to support an annual concert to enable the pupils to perform with professional singers and musicians. The Chapel choir and CHCS were able to put on major works with full orchestra and soloists, the first concert being “Carmina Burana” in1987 and in 1990 a fully staged performance of the opera “Boris Godunov” with soloists from Covent Garden.
The cost of putting on such big works increased so that the Angus Ross fund now no longer covers the full amount. Initially our only financial input was to pay for the flowers for the lady soloists and Lady Marjorie Ross who always attended but later the society offered to pay the fees of the soloists until the then MD, Adrian Bawtree asked if we would give a donation to the Music school instead. This is why we do so each year using the proceeds from the Workshop and part of the Christmas concert. We do not pay for the use of the premises for these events, neither do we incur any other expenses in putting on such big works. Several years ago the committee decided to strengthen our ties to the school by awarding a bursary to one or more pupils to further their musical education which is much appreciated by the recipients.