Join Our Club: Hailsham Choral Society

Their first-ever concert was held in May 1962, so Hailsham Choral Society (HCS) is in Royal company this year as it celebrates a milestone anniversary, albeit golden rather than diamond

Hailsham Choral Society’s longevity is testament of its harmonious self-management led by a committee formed of its own singing members, including a chairman, secretary, publicity officer, librarian (who looks after the sheet music), musical director and deputy, and musical accompanist.

With over 60 members HCS is currently at capacity, but enquiries from people interested in joining are always welcome, particularly from male tenors.  Women currently make up two thirds of the membership, singing soprano and alto (and one lady tenor), and a third are men, singing the tenor and bass parts.

Michael Tanner, HCS Chairman, says: “Of all the singing parts it is tenors that we are short of, so we’d love to hear from people with tenor or bass singing voices.”

HCS members come from Hailsham as well as other towns and villages in Sussex, and they include retired teachers, practising GPs, a university statistician, an IT specialist, a vicar’s wife and a female driving instructor.

They are led by musical director Jozik Kotz, a choral trainer and professional singer who has performed at Glyndebourne, the English National Opera and the Royal Opera House.

Michael continues: “A lot of our members sing in church choirs, we’re ordinary people from all walks of life, who just enjoy singing.”

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HCS’s longest standing member is Barbara Edwards, a church organist who has been with the society for 39 years, and is their much-respected deputy musical director.

Barbara says: “Over the years we’ve changed the music we perform, from the bigger more formal choral works – such as those by Orff and Mendelssohn – to include songs and carols from around the world.

“We’ve got superb musical direction from Jozik, and we’re all good friends, with some going on trips and holidays together. We all enjoy each other’s company.”

In 2004 HCS went to St Petersburg where they mastered Russian-language choral music in just four days before staging their performance.

They also have an exchange arrangement with the choir of the Roman Catholic Church of R�tihof in Baden, Switzerland, which was established through the daughter of a member who lives there. 

In 2009 HCS visited en masse with members staying in local homes as well as the Youth Hostel.  They performed a programme which included Mozart’s Missa in C, Vivaldi’s Gloria in D and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah together with trumpets, harpsichord and cello in front of 700 people, who politely jostled for position in the packed church.

Michael explains: “It was an unforgettable, moving experience and the R�tihof choir is coming to us in May next year.”

HCS stages four performances a year, two in Eastbourne with full orchestra and professional guest soloists, and two smaller events in Hailsham, with tickets normally costing between �10 and �12 each.

“We also do other things by invitation, such as weddings and singing around the Christmas tree in Hailsham town centre.”

HCS’s Summer Concert is coming up on Saturday 30 June, 7.30pm in St Mary’s Church, Hailsham when they will be performing Songs of the Fleet and excerpts from Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore.

To join HCS, members must be able to read music. Auditions take place after a prospective member has been singing with the choir for around three weeks, and then they’re asked to sing with a handful of other members to make sure they can sing in tune.

All enquiries to Jan Boyes, HCS honorary secretary, on 01323 870515 or email info@hailshamchoral.org

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