Last updated March 21
Welcome to Kingston Orpheus Choir. We hope you enjoy singing with us.
This brief introduction is designed to give you some background to the Choir and how it operates.
The Choir was founded in 1944 and so is looking forward to celebrating its 75th birthday in 2019. It is a 50+ strong mixed voice choir comprising Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses.
It operates on a termly basis and normally gives three Saturday evening concerts per year (usually in December, March/April and July). Its preferred performance space is St Andrew’s Church, Surbiton, on Maple Road. The church has a fine organ and also provides staging for choirs which perform there.
Normally, during term time, we rehearse in St John’s Church, Spring Grove, Kingston, on Wednesdays from 8.00pm to 10.00pm with a short social break for tea/coffee. On average our terms are 13 weeks long. During COVID restrictions and lockdowns we have been rehearsing online, and at times have been able to have hybrid rehearsals, mixing online with presence of a core of singers in the church. If you would like to join us, please send us your email address and we’ll send you a link to our next rehearsal.
Dates for your diary: 24th July and 31st July
Our plan is to hold two joint concerts with Blackheath & Bramley Choral Society: one in Kingston (24th July 2021) and one at Holy Trinity Guildford (31st July). I’m pleased to say that both venues have been booked and, assuming that the end of all lockdown restrictions happens as planned in June, we’re looking forward to finally performing again in July. We have also prepared a back-up “plan B” for an outdoor concert, in the event that there are still restrictions on indoor performing in late July, but I’m very hopeful that we will be able to implement plan A.
Concert date: to be confirmed
Our professional Musical Director (“MD”) David Condry conducts our performances and takes our rehearsals. Wherever possible we use professional musicians and soloists in our concerts to enhance the experience for Choir and audience alike.
The music we sing is predominantly from the classical composers such as Bach, Elgar, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, but also includes more modern composers such as Sullivan, Barber, Rutter, Whitacre.
Unlike most choirs we do not hold auditions to determine who should join the Choir. Whilst the ability to read music is a benefit, much of our rehearsal time is spent on learning notes so allowing us to be inclusive.
However we are not a pure Community Choir, and as we have limited rehearsal time to put on some quite challenging music we need to make sure that our singers can all progress at more or less the same speed to deliver good performances.
Therefore new members are accepted with a probationary period comprising the first four rehearsals they attend. If over that period it becomes obvious to the Musical Director that an individual is not progressing as well as hoped, then the MD will inform them that they will not be accepted for full membership. The MD will, where possible, recommend alternative local choirs that the individual could approach.
Costs and income
For each rehearsal the costs we incur are to pay for the MD, our accompanist and the hire of St John’s church.
For concerts we pay for our MD, an organist/pianist and the hire of St Andrew’s church. In addition, if our concerts use soloists or other instrumentalists we pay their fees as appropriate.
We also have to pay performing rights fees and other minor costs.
Our concert income comes primarily from the tickets we sell, supplemented a little by profits from interval drinks and the sale of programmes. Clearly, like nearly every other amateur choir, we rely heavily on our members to sell tickets to their family and friends. Like most performing arts organisations the income from ticket sales etc. and from Members’ subscriptions does not cover the costs of putting on our performances. We are also heavily reliant on external grants and sponsorship and, in this respect, we owe much to the support we currently receive from the Humphrey Richardson Taylor Charitable Trust.
Our subscription is £70 per term. This is payable in cash, cheque, card or bank transfer.
Tea/coffee is provided free.
Subscriptions from new members
New members can join at any time, and, as noted above, we have a four-rehearsal probationary “try-it-and-see” period where we do not ask for any payment.
During that period the MD will also be checking to see that the new member is happy and likely to get benefit from membership.
If the new member continues after those four rehearsals we ask that the new member pays the termly subscription of £70.
Full-time students are asked to pay a reduced subscription of £25 per term.
The Treasurer is empowered to make suitable arrangements with any member who has difficulty paying.
As the Choir is a registered charity we can claim Gift Aid tax relief on Members’ payments. We therefore ask all tax-paying Members to complete a Gift Aid form confirming that they are tax payers so that we can justify our submissions to HMRC for Gift Aid payments.
As the Choir has to hire music for most of the works it performs, everyone who borrows music is also required to pay these charges at the time the music is hired from the Librarian. The Choir does not profit from this activity.
For our more formal concerts Men wear Dinner Jacket and Trousers with white shirt and black bow tie, black socks and black shoes.
For less formal concerts Men wear open-necked black shirts and black trousers, black socks and black shoes (and possibly a black jacket depending on temperature in the church).
For all concerts Women wear LONG black skirt or black non-skinny trousers, with a long-sleeved black or white (as agreed for each concert) shirt/top, black socks or stockings and black shoes (and possibly a black jacket depending on temperature in the church).
Where agreed for a particular concert, music is placed in a Kingston Orpheus Choir folder.
The Choir is led by a Committee comprising a Vice-President, Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary and up to 6 other members. Appointment is by election at the AGM – generally held in September.
All members are encouraged to stand for election as an officer or general Committee member and play an active role in the running of the Choir.
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