Our next concert: Sunday 10th April 2022 – Music for Royal Occasions

On 6 February 2022 the Queen will have been on the throne for 70 years. She will be the first British monarch to reach this historic milestone and the Choral Society want to celebrate this. The theme therefore for our April concert will be Music for Royal Occasions, includeingHandel’s Coronation Anthems and many other Royal related music.

Much more detail to follow as we develop the programme.

Fantastic concert in Sudbury’s new venue

Our concert on 12th December in the Joy Abbot Hall was a real success. Great new bijou concert venue for the town, the performing space is not huge but imaginative use of the galleries above it really expands the possibilities. Britten’s St Nicholas Cantata with its multiple choirs fits very well into the space and the audience enjoyed a real treat with the superb tenor Magnus Walker. The Cantata has, to quote one of the audience, “a surprising amount of good tunes” and Britten uses the voices and the music to paint the story of St Nicholas in a very approachable way. The choral society acquitted itself really well in what is not the easiest piece to sing, but we did make our conductor John Chillingworth work very very hard on the night to bring it off. Many thanks to the three choristers from St Mary le Tower in Ipswich who were the three pickled boys. And hats off to the small but perfectly formed Kingfisher Ensemble who accompanied the choir for the Britten.

After St Nicholas we had the traditional carol concert with new carols, Alan Bullard’s “Glory to the Christ Child” being a highlight, comic readings and traditional carols with the audience joining in.

More on our tenor soloist, Magnus Walker, who sang with a beautiful full rich and confident tone and with huge attention to the underlying emotion of the songs. It was an absolute treat to hear such a quality performance in this new venue. Magnus is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and is now studying for his masters. He recently won the Joan Chissell/Rex Stephens aware for Schumann Lieder. He has sung in many of the UK’s top concert venues and takes a particular interest in Art Song performance. For more detail on Magnus, click here.

Overall, it was a lovely evening which the audience thoroughly enjoyed.

Concert on 12 December 2021: Britten’s St Nicholas and Carols for Christmas

Our concert on Sunday 12th December 2021 was in the Joy Abott Hall, which used to be the URC in School Street.

Tickets at £12 each (£2 for students and children) were available from Sudbury Tourist Office (in the Town Hall) and from Juniper Flowers in North Street, Sudbury. They could also be bought on the door. Ticket enquiries – please contact Christa by email or call her on 01787 466046.

Britten’s St Nicholas cantata is a very interesting mix of completely over the top drama, almost Monty Pythonesque tall tales and wonderful music which combines medieval themes with Britten’s mastery of 20th century music techniques. And any work that includes pickled boys just should not be missed. We follow this cantata with a selection of carols for Christmas, some new and some of our favourites.

We had planned to hold the concert in St Gregory’s Church Sudbury but changed our mind once we knew the old URC was available. We are delighted that this much loved building, sometimes referred to as the Shard of Sudbury, is coming back into use.

Concert: Faure and Vivaldi, 5th September

Our concert on Sunday 5th September 2021 was the last one in St Peter’s, Sudbury until 2023.

The programme was a surefire winner, Faure’s Requiem and Vivaldi’s Glora, and was the first under our new musical director John Chillingworth.

We had Gill Wilson (soprano), Elaine Henson (mezzo soprano), Mark Saberton (baritone) as soloists, all accompanied by the Kingfisher Ensemble.

Welcome to our new conductor John Chillingworth!

John Chillingworth is formally to become conductor of Sudbury Choral Society in April 2021.  However, in the unusual circumstances of lockdown and the suspension of normal choir activities, he is going to run online rehearsals from June 2020.  “I hope to make singing fun but rewarding for choir members.  I encourage hard work in rehearsals, but always with a light-hearted touch, to bring challenging works to performance standard and I believe the members of choirs involved find the end result is often beyond what they thought they could achieve.  I am already conductor of Lexden Choral Society and have been having online rehearsals with them for over two months.  The online sessions, despite frustrations, have been very popular and members there feel that they have learned more about the music than in normal rehearsals, and also got to know each other better.  I hope the experience will be equally rewarding for Sudbury Choral Society.”

I am a cellist, organist, pianist, instrumental, theory and composition teacher, orchestral and chamber music coach, conductor and arranger.

I studied the cello and organ at the Royal College of Music and later the cello with William Pleeth, teacher of Jacqueline Du Pre.  For seven years I was the cellist of the Guadagnini String Quartet performing and broadcasting all over Europe and Canada.  I was an Artist-in-Residence at Southampton University followed by two years at Lancaster University.  While in the quartet, I was very fortunate to study chamber music with some of the finest musicians in the world.  Following the disbanding of the quartet, I became Assistant Principal Cello of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, which became the BBC Philharmonic during my time in the orchestra.  For twenty-five years I was Principal Cellist at English National Opera.  I have also worked as a guest principal cellist with many other orchestras, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Opera North, Northern Philharmonia, London Mozart Players, London Sinfonietta, BBC Welsh Orchestra and Camerata Ireland. 

 Having decided to leave ENO, I moved to Essex and am now pursuing a varied career as a free-lance cellist, a teacher of the cello, organ and piano and as an accompanist for recitals and exams. I teach for Essex Music Services at Colchester Royal Grammar School, privately, and at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich and at Ipswich High School.  I live in a thatched cottage in Suffolk.

I became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the unusually young age of nineteen, am a Diploma examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, work as an adjudicator for Music Festivals, coach at the London Music Colleges and teach young professionals, helping them prepare for audtitions or recitals.

I am very much looking forward to becoming conductor of Sudbury Choral Society, am already conductor of Lexden Choral Society, and of the newly formed Essex Youth Choir and Essex Youth Consort, two choirs for students up to the age of nineteen.   My latest project is starting a big band.  I was looking forward to conducting Southend Symphony Orchestra, but sadly, like all other live performances, that has had to be cancelled.

As a composer, I have had a musical written for primary schools performed by a group of primary schools in Felixstowe, an organ piece performed in the Sunday evening series of organ recitals at St John’s College, Cambridge, a piece for massed strings played by the strings of Essex Young People’s Orchestra and Lexden Choral Society have performed a work for Remembrance Day; as an arranger, I have had many arrangements performed by a variety of different groups including the Gents of St John’s.

I am married with a selection of children across the ages, from fifteen to thirty-six, and one granddaughter.  In the small amount of time left to me when I am not involved in musical activities, I enjoy cycling and cooking, especially Mediterranean cooking and baking sour dough bread.”

John Chillingworth

Virtual choir sessions start 15th June!

Our members are being given the option of joining Zoom rehearsals starting 15th June until 24th August. They’ll be run by John Chillingworth who is taking over from David Butcher as our conductor.

John is coming to us from Lexden Choral Society, bringing a wealth of musical experience. We wish David all the best for his future ventures – after many years as our leader he will be much missed!