100 voices sought to mark World War One centenary

A choir of 100 voices is being put together to sing in Chichester's Priory Park to mark the park's centenary and also the centenary of the armistice which ended the First World War.

Emily Barden
Emily Barden

Emily Barden is assembling the choir to sing in Priory Park on September 30 when a special Drum Head Service with the Chichester City Band will take place in front of the park’s mound which will be covered by a cascade of poppies made by local school children. 200 carrier pigeons will be released as the 100 sing on the 100th anniversary of the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon giving Priory Park to the people of Chichester for their recreation and as a perpetual memorial to the fallen in the First World War. The event will be the culmination of a programme of Priory Park 100 activities run by the Friends of Priory Park to mark the centennial year.

“It will be wonderful to have 100 voices,” Emily said, “and to be part of the living sculpture of poppies. The choir will stand at the bottom of the mound and wear black and wear poppies, and we will be accompanied by Chichester City Band.

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“There will be ten hours in total of rehearsals, basically one rehearsal a month until September and then a couple in September. We will give people the sheet music, and the rehearsals will be two hours each. We will rehearse with the city band for the final rehearsal.

“I am looking for people who have had some experience and are confident, but more than that I am looking for people who are excited to be singing in Priory Park. This is not necessarily a choir for people looking to make their first step into choral singing. I will still be doing a lot of teaching by ear, but having the ability to read music would be very useful.

“And I need men! That’s always the case. I think maybe women are more joiners, more willing to take part in things. They will go along to community events. With my own choirs, I have found that I have just had a few men at the start, and then it has grown as they have told their mates that it really is OK! But it is never the case that you get a lot of men when a project is taking off. The ideal proportion would be a quarter of the choir to be men. That would be fantastic, and I think that that is realisable, but I am particularly looking for strong confident leaders, men with experience.”

“As it will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of Priory Park and the end of the First World War, the whole thing will have a First World War theme. We are doing a medley of popular World War One tunes. I have been looking for things where voices will combine well with brass. We will be doing Sussex By The Sea and we will be doing Jerusalem. But the choir’s star piece will be Ave Verum by Philip Stopford.”

To register your interest as one of The 100 Choir, email [email protected] The first meeting will be on June 26 in the Guildhall when the music will be distributed Subsequent rehearsals will be in St Paul’s Church. The Drum Head Service and 100 Choir will be on Sunday, September 30 at 11am.