Why Join The Choir?

Sing With Us

Why Join The Choir?

Between September and July, rehearsals are held every Monday between 6.15pm and 8.15pm in Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, London SW1 (a few minutes’ walk from Victoria Station). Members of the Choir are friendly and approachable, and around the weekly rehearsals there are frequent opportunities to socialise.

An international reputation for musical excellence

Founded in 1876, The Bach Choir is recognised as one of the world’s leading choirs, building upon a tradition that combines musical excellence with creativity and innovation. Directed by eminent conductor and choir trainer David Hill, we regularly perform and record across London and the UK in prestigious venues, from iconic concert halls like the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, to stunning cathedrals such as Winchester and St Paul’s, and world-renowned recording venue, Abbey Road Studios.

Our commitment to challenging repertoire

From oratorio to film scores, our repertoire covers works from the 16th century to the present day.  As well as regular performances of larger scale choral works, such as Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the Choir has, under David Hill’s directorship, undertaken a demanding recording schedule, which has produced acclaimed discs of music by Handel, Howells, Mahler, Carl Rütti, Vaughan Williams and Delius. We collaborated with John Rutter and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on The Colours of Christmas, which reached No 3 in the Official Classical Charts in 2011.

The Choir has given eight world premieres since 2001 and is committed to commissioning new music.  In 2012 we gave the world premiere of Bob Chilcott’s environmental cantata The Angry Planet as part of the BBC Proms, which also featured the National Youth Choir and more than 250 children from The Bach Choir’s Outreach programme.  More recently, in the iconic setting of St Paul’s Cathedral, we gave the first performance of David Goode’s Blitz Requiem and in 2017, at one of our Best of British concerts in the Royal Festival Hall, we sang a piece composed for us by James MacMillan, Blow the Trumpet in the New Moon.

We are also regularly asked to feature on soundtracks for blockbuster films, and have recorded music for Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, Prometheus, Robin Hood, The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek the Third and Jack the Giant Slayer. In 2016 we participated in the John Lewis Christmas advertisement.

An ambitious touring schedule

We try to tour abroad every 2-3 years; previous trips have included engagements in Beirut (2003), Germany (2005, 2007, 2009) and Australia (2008). We have also sung in the USA, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, Sweden, France, South Africa and more. In April 2014, the choir travelled to China and gave a series of successful concerts in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong. In the autumn of 2017, we were in the Netherlands for six days, giving six concerts of mostly a cappella works in six different cities.

Outreach

Preserving the UK’s choral music heritage is an important part of our mission. Every season we run an Outreach programme with a number of London primary schools, aimed at introducing their older pupils to choral singing. This programme involves a series of workshops and group rehearsals and culminates in a concert, with the choir, in central London. Unusually among London choirs, we involve members in Outreach workshops and rehearsals, as well as in the end of season concert. While involvement in Outreach is not compulsory, we encourage members to participate and hope that as many as possible will do so.

A demanding season programme

We have a core programme of around four concerts each year, although corporate events, recordings, tours and other engagements have often increased this number to 15 or more in a single season. We expect all members to commit to singing in our core concerts and to make themselves available to participate in as many non-core events as possible (some of these will be selective).

We rehearse intensively on just one evening a week, with several programmes often rehearsed simultaneously. We therefore operate a strict qualification policy which means that only those who attend at least the minimum number (usually two thirds but sometimes more) of rehearsals for a particular concert are allowed to sing in that concert. We expect all members to commit to at least this minimum number of rehearsals for all concerts in which they are involved. This is essential in order that we maintain the high standards for which we are renowned.

We sometimes only need a limited number of singers for some non-core events: in these cases, the Choir operates a selection procedure. Singers are selected partly on the basis of their audition scores but, particularly for some of our most prestigious events (in which many are usually keen to sing) attendance records, loyalty and singers’ willingness to put themselves forward for other non-core events are also taken into account in the selection process.

The audition process

In order to join the Choir, it is necessary to pass an audition, with further re-auditions every three years to ensure that the Choir maintain its high standards. We hold auditions at various times throughout the year. At your audition you will be asked to sing a short prepared piece (no more than 3 minutes long). Apart from length, there are no rules about your choice – it might be an extract from a choral work, a short aria, a folk song or anything else you feel comfortable singing.  You will also be asked to and to sing scales or arpeggios, perform various musical tests and sight-read from a vocal score. Sight-reading needs to be of a good standard in order to cope with our demanding programme.

Our membership subscription

Since The Bach Choir is a charity, all members are asked to make a contribution towards the costs of running the Choir through a subscription. The Choir’s subscription costs £26.00 per month, paid over 12 months, or £288 per year (although any difficulty with this would be viewed sympathetically). Full-time students or those who have graduated within the last four years (first degree) pay just £20 per year. Music can be bought through the Choir and hire copies are often available free of charge from the Choir’s library.

Singer profiles

Find out what life in The Bach Choir is really like by reading profiles of two of our current members, Kate and Sebastian.

How to apply for an audition

For more information on joining The Bach Choir, please contact Julie Greenacre, the Choir’s Membership Secretary by emailing her at: auditions@thebachchoir.org.uk

To apply for an audition, click here.