Sussex Festival Choir offers Arundel concert - and launches Horsham off-shoot

Stephen Hope will lead his Sussex Festival Choir in their annual concert in support of St Catherine’s and St Wilfrid’s hospices at Arundel Cathedral on September 19.

Stephen Hope
Stephen Hope

In the meantime, he is setting up an off-shoot of the Sussex Festival Choir.

The Sussex Chorale, which will be based in Horsham, will rehearse for the first time on September 23.

But first the Sussex Festival Choir concert in Arundel.

After the disappointment of being forced to cancel last year’s event, and having to reschedule their usual July date this year because of the pandemic, the choir is delighted to be presenting a programme of Mozart Vespers and Haydn’s Nelson Mass.

The soloists will be Lesley-Jane Rodgers, Hannah Morley, David Walder and Simon Wilson. “The event will be slightly smaller in scale than usual due to the challenges and restrictions of Covid 19,” Stephen says.

“But nevertheless the enthusiasm and passion to support the hospices remains undiminished as we push towards our next milestone of raising a total of £200,000. We look forward to welcoming you along at 7.15pm and re-kindling this regular summer event!”

Tickets are available on the door £24 and £22 concessions or in advance from 01372 741100.

And then four days later, The Sussex Chorale springs to life. It will meet on Thursdays at the Barn, Causeway, Horsham from 7.30-9.15pm.

Repertoire will be varied and comprise genres across the board but with a central classical vein. In the summer there will be the opportunity to join forces with the Sussex Festival Choir for their major concert in Arundel Cathedral in support of the hospices.

If you would like more information, contact Stephen directly on 07770 392067 or just come along on September 23 for the first rehearsal: “It’s an off-shoot from the Sussex Festival Choir, a subsidiary. Some people wanted to sing with me on a smaller scale, and the whole idea is really to provide that platform, for the people who enjoy singing with me.

“We have got about 32-33 people at the moment, and I am hoping that that will start to grow. I would like to see about 50-60 people perhaps and then we could link in with the Sussex Festival Choir in the summer though of course that would not be obligatory. It is just an idea.

“I am pretty encouraged so far. I have got tenors and four or five basses. The men are the most difficult singers to get together. I think people are just finding their feet in the new term as we are starting to come out of Covid. There are some people that I haven’t seen for 19 months, and it is very understandable that people should be cautious.”

Stephen is not planning a debut concert for The Sussex Chorale at Christmas: “It is still too early, and it costs money. Funds are obviously limited. We will set up a small committee and start planning, but as soon as you start hiring buildings, it costs money and someone has got to be paying the bills. I don’t want to be over-funding. In the springtime perhaps we will do an Easter concert, perhaps the Rutter Requiem or something on that scale.

“I don’t want to be putting too much pressure on people. I just want a group of singers that enjoy singing with me and have a common goal of excellence, people that have a sense of humour and levity and who don’t just want to be OK, who really do want to be good at this.”