Sing With Us
Across the UK there are hundreds of choral organisations, large and small. What makes The Bach Choir different from the rest? Here are some frequently asked questions about being a singing member of The Bach Choir.
What sort of music does the Choir sing?
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, we are is committed to commissioning new works; since 2001, we have given 11 world premieres, including Bob Chilcott’s environmental cantata The Angry Planet as part of the 2012 BBC Proms.
The Choir also undertakes 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, and in 2016 participated in the John Lewis Christmas advertisement. We are regularly asked to feature on soundtracks for films, and have recorded music for Kingdom of Heaven, Prometheus, The Martian, Robin Hood, The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek the Third, and Jack the Giant Slayer.
When does the Choir rehearse?
We rehearse every Monday between 6.15 and 8.15 from September to July in Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, SW1 (a few minutes’ walk from London Victoria train station). Because we usually rehearse on only one day a week, attendance at those rehearsals is very important. To qualify to sing in a concert, you will need to attend a minimum of two-thirds of the rehearsals for that concert, as well as the final piano rehearsal and a rehearsal on the day of the concert (which is likely to be during working hours) and it’s important that you are able to commit to doing so.
What does a typical season look like?
The Choir has a basic programme of around four core concerts each year, although corporate events, recordings and tours have often seen our demanding schedule rise to 15 or more engagements in a single season. All members are expected to commit to singing in all our core concerts and to make themselves available for as many non-core events as possible.
Does the Choir have an outreach programme?
The Choir runs an annual Outreach programme, Vocalise!, with a number of London schools, aimed at introducing their older pupils to choral singing. This comprises a series of workshops and group rehearsals and culminates in a concert, with the Choir, in central London. Unusually for most London choirs, we involve members in all aspects of the programme.
While it’s not compulsory for members to participate in the Outreach programme (whether in workshops or group rehearsals or in the end of season concert), those that do find it enormously rewarding and their presence at rehearsals adds greatly to the children’s experience.
Does the Choir go on international tours?
Yes – we aim to tour abroad every 2-3 years; recent trips have included engagements in Beirut (2003), Germany (2005, 2007, 2009), Australia (2008), China and Hong Kong (2014), the Netherlands (2017) and the US (2020).
Do I have to audition to join the Choir?
Yes – it is necessary to pass an audition, with further re-auditions every three years to ensure that the Choir maintains a high standard. We hold auditions at various times throughout the year.
What happens in my audition?
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.
How much does it cost to join the Choir?
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 (first degree) pay just £20 per year for the duration of their course and for four years after graduation. Music can be bought through the Choir and hire copies are often available free of charge from the Choir’s library.
How can I apply for an audition?
To apply for an audition, click here.
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
Do members have to sing in every concert?
Most seasons, we have around four core concerts in which everyone is expected to sing. In addition we have concerts and other events, many with reduced numbers, for which people are asked to sign up, and singers are selected by the Musical Director. We expect everyone to make themselves available to participate in as many of these non-core events as possible.
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.
Do members have to attend every rehearsal?
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 of rehearsals for a particular concert (usually two thirds but sometimes more) 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.
For some events, where rehearsal time is very limited, singers are often required to attend most or all rehearsals in order to qualify to sing. To maintain our high standards, it’s very important that everyone commits to attending at least the minimum number of rehearsals required to qualify for the concerts in which they are singing.