Mission in the rhythm of rural life

Author: Stephen Richards

Published on: 29 December 2017

In 2010 a new annual Southrepps Classical Music Festival was founded, centred on St. James Church.

For the first two years the closing ‘gala’ concert required a chorus to assist the professional singers, so a scratch choir of locals and visitors was assembled by Tom Primrose (then Organ Scholar at Norwich Cathedral).

For a year or more, some of those local amateur singers kept nagging me to start a more permanent choir so they could sing all year round. And in November 2011, in an upstairs room adjoining the church, although I was expecting about a dozen, in fact 30 brave souls turned up to sing. Some of these had not sung before, some others not since school days many decades before.

That was the start of the community choir Southrepps Chorale which over the past six years has grown in numbers to 60 voices, in skills, in self-belief and confidence. It is our mission to provide our members with a wide variety of musical experiences which have led us to performances in some notable Norfolk churches including Binham Priory and the RC Cathedral of St John in Norwich, and in a totally different context in Morrisons, Cromer.

Now formally constituted with chair and committee, we really do live our constitution:

  • we promote community activity, education, enjoyment, mutual support, equality and social inclusion through singing
  • we encourage and facilitate personal creativity through the shared experience of singing together
  • we try to share and enrich wider community life through public performance

And the other key to our success so far is to have the right music in front of us at all our weekly rehearsals; a varied musical repertoire that entertains and yet continually challenges us.

The Southrepps Music Festival also grows in strength and ambition, and each year invites us to perform a concert in the otherwise professional week-long programme. A look back at those programmes perfectly shows how the Southrepps Chorale has developed: 2012 – Gilbert and Sullivan highlights; 2013 – Songs from the Shows; 2014 – English madrigals and Captain Noah; 2015; our first commission from local composer Geoff Cummings- Knight, along with Fauré’s Requiem; 2016 – West Side Story and other Shakespeare derived music; and in 2017 our most ambitious yet, Karl Jenkin’s stirring but reflective Mass for Peace – The Armed Man.

Essentially, while the Chorale is a secular village project, in a Norfolk village the church is never far from peoples’ sight or their thoughts, so the Southrepps Chorale naturally takes its place in the service of the village and the rhythm of rural life. We sing at some weddings, at the annual Remembrance Sunday service and, each year since our very first Christmas in 2011, we perform at the village Carol Service.

Looking ahead to 2018, we shall be presenting ‘Music for Valentines (at the Lighthouse, Sheringham) on Saturday 10 February), and in summer 2018 a concert ‘By Royal Command’ complete with trumpets, trombones, drums and organ, featuring joyous, majestic and sombre music of royal occasions.

Full details will appear on our website at: www.southreppschorale.org.uk

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Stephen Richards

Musical Director, Southrepps Chorale

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