Hailsham Choral to begin their 60th anniversary concert with Ukrainian national anthem

Hailsham Choral will begin their 60th anniversary concert with a performance of the Ukrainian national anthem.

Jozik Kotz
Jozik Kotz

The concert itself will deliver Handel’s Messiah, the piece they performed for their 50th anniversary ten years ago. But the concert will start with an act of solidarity with the tragic people of the Ukraine. Hailsham Choral would be delighted to welcome any Ukrainians in the area or anyone of Ukrainian heritage to the concert free of charge.

Conductor Jozik Kotz said: “It is just a small gesture but we wanted to show our support.”

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There will be a retiring collection for the British Red Cross in aid of the victims of the war. The concert will be on Saturday, March 26 at 7.30pm at All Saints Church, Grange Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4HE. Adding to its significance will be the fact that it is also their first major concert since November 2019.

Jozik was with them from 2006 until 2019 when he left for personal reasons. He returned recently when there was a vacancy in the position and he felt the choir was perhaps “teetering.”

“It did feel like there was a worry that the whole thing might fall apart. Lockdowns are no good for choirs. Zoom rehearsals just don’t work and for them to be able to get back face to face was terribly important.”

Inevitably there was a sense of the familiar when he returned: “But there has been a bit of rebuilding to do in terms of people’s confidence and stamina. Both had taken a hit. If you’ve got people of mostly retirement age and they are rehearsing every week and you are encouraging them to do bits in between, then it is fine but if all that suddenly stops then it is like the muscles are suddenly beginning to go. People have got older and in order to keep the quality up it feels like you are baling hard. You’re working very hard just to stand still. But we are now getting back to a really nice sound and it is good to be back and it’s very nice to have that social aspect again having moved back to the area.

“And you realise how important it is in people’s lives. It is doing something that is not just meeting up for a coffee or a drink. There is some purpose other than just socialising. The socialising is part of it, but we also do some quite serious music. We do some of the lighter stuff as well but there is also stuff that’s got some real depth in it and something that you can really sink your teeth into. People that are retired but had been in demanding or stimulating jobs really enjoy something that is stimulating especially if it is now actually something that they have chosen to do rather than work.

“The choir did 15 minutes in the Hailsham Festival but this is the first big concert since November 2019.

“We did a carol concert in December but that was reduced numbers. For this concert they wanted to do The Messiah because it’s what they did for their 50th anniversary ten years ago and it is certainly a great favourite for choirs. There is a great deal to do for the choir and a lot of it is very challenging. They sing something like 20 quite tough choruses and obviously it is a good one to do around this time of the year because most of the music concerns the Easter part of the story. I do think that every choir worth its salt will have done The Messiah at some stage in their existence. But what strikes me this time is that I really want to bring out the drama of the piece with the choir being very much part of that drama, showing it in their faces in a way that they would not usually do in an oratorio performance. I want to have that real sense of connection with the audience.”

Tickets: adults £10, under-18s £5. Tickets are available from Eastbourne Tourist Office; Ashley Adams Jewellers, High Street Hailsham; wegottickets.com and on the door.

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