The History of Sarisbury Choral Society

1948: Sarisbury Choral Society began life as an evening class funded by Hampshire County Council. As an evening class nobody was barred from joining and the group was named “The Sarisbury Community Choir”.

1949: The first conductor, Charles Martin, was appointed by the County Council. The Choir started an association with the Hamble Choir, conducted by a Mr Harding. The two choirs often sang in joint concerts. The two choirs eventually amalgamated and became Sarisbury & Hamble Choral Society

1951: The choir competed in Winchester and County Music Festival for the first time. The choir continues to take great pride in participating in the annual festival concert in either Romsey Abbey or Winchester Cathedral in May each year.

1960: The choir won the Winchester Festival Banner. Charles Martin continued in his post until his death later that year and he was succeeded by John Moody.

1971: Sheila Javes became conductor and guided the choir to compete at both Winchester and Petersfield Music Festivals.

1985: Christine Stokes became conductor and the choir continued to sing in Romsey Abbey and Winchester Cathedral.

1996: Robin Phillips took over as Musical Director. 

1999: The choir celebrated “Fifty years of singing” with a special concert on Saturday 2nd October, singing music by Coleridge Taylor, Stanford and Vaughan Williams.

2000: For a decade, the choir supported Voices for Hospices by hosting biannually a “Come & Sing” performance with friends from singers in the locality. Since 2013, members have continued to support this event through the Voices for Hospices choir.

2004: The choir reverted to Sarisbury Choral Society, reflecting the catchment area of the choir members. 

2009: Graham Kidd became our Musical Director. The choir celebrated their diamond anniversary with a special concert on Saturday 26th September, singing music by Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Purcell in their respective anniversary years. 

2012: Members of the choir, led by Michael Waterson, began “Carols in the community”, singing carols in a variety of contexts, ranging from company dinners to shopping centres! 

Carols in the Community: Singing at an office Christmas Party, December 2017

2013: Sophie Aynsley became our accompanist in September. As well as being our accompanist, Sophie looks after the choir website. 

2014 – 2017: the choir supported the ‘come and sing’ events held at St. James’ Church, West End, Southampton, singing Vivaldi’s Gloria, Karl Jenkins’ Armed Mass suite and just about everything else in-between!

Come and Sing Mendelssohn’s Elijah – September 2017, St James’ Church, West End

2017 – 2018: In a particularly busy year, members of Sarisbury Choral were invited to take part in concerts alongside Lee Choral Society, Portsmouth Festival Choir and Southampton Choral Society.

2019: Sarisbury Choral Society celebrated its 70th anniversary with a special concert on Saturday 26th October. 

2020: Our activities took a pause due to COVID-19. However, the Committee kept the sense of community going with regular coffee mornings via Zoom and newsletters, which are available on the choir website. 

2021: The choir resumed singing in the summer, with rehearsals outside, before returning to a sense of normality by the autumn, in time to put together a Christmas concert. 

2022: All seven choirs affiliated to Winchester and County Music Festival joined forces for a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Anvil, Basingstoke, conducted by David Hill MBE. At the end of this concert, the festival changed its name to the Hampshire Choral Festival. 

2023: For the first time in a long while, Sarisbury Choral returned to St. James’ Church, West End to perform a Spring concert, which featured the music of Elgar, Mendelssohn, Parry, Stanford and Vaughan Williams. 

2024: Sarisbury Choral celebrates its 75th birthday, with a Spring concert featuring music by Faure and Guilmant and a special Christmas concert with Brass Quintet. 

The existence of Sarisbury Choral Society is due entirely to our love of singing and also to the support from the talented conductors and accompanists, who have given us so much encouragement.