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, Stanford, Dyson and Delius, as well as Christmas carols.
The Choir has given 11 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. In October 2019 we gave the world premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Four Choral Seasons.
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, Jack the Giant Slayer and The Martian. 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, and in March 2020 we join with Yale Schola Cantorum and the Yale Philharmonia for a five-city US East Coast Tour, including concerts in Boston, New York and Washington.
Preserving the UK’s choral music heritage is an important part of our mission. Every season we run an Outreach programme, Vocalise!, 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. We also run workshops for dementia patients in care homes. 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, often preparing several programmes simultaneously. As a result we operate a strict qualification policy which means that only those who attend at least the minimum number (usually three quarters but sometimes more) of rehearsals for a particular concert are allowed to sing in that concert. In addition, in order to qualify for a concert, singers must attend the final piano rehearsal and a mid-afternoon rehearsal on the day of the concert, which can often be a weekday. In practice this could mean attending all but one Monday evening rehearsals for a concert. Potential singing members should consider carefully whether they can fulfill this commitment before putting themselves forward for audition. For some events, where rehearsal time is very limited, singers are often required to attend all rehearsals in order to qualify to sing. 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 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 £28.00 per month, paid over 12 months, or £306 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.
How to apply for an audition
For more information on joining The Bach Choir, please contact Julia Palmer, the Choir’s Membership Secretary by emailing her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply for an audition, click here.