Sherborne Festival Chorus is a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, formed in 2006, in collaboration with Sherborne Abbey Festival, to enable and to encourage local people to sing to a high standard within an informal environment. It aims to provide more local people with the opportunity to perform in Sherborne Abbey and to involve members of the community in Sherborne Abbey Festival.
The Chorus is led by a professional conductor who has a reputation throughout the region for leading amateur choral music of a high standard. We meet for weekly rehearsals and occasional workshops during the three months prior to the concert.
Sherborne Abbey Festival held its first concert on Friday, 5th May 2000, and has been held each year since as a four or five day event based around the liturgy and its music, attracting large audiences both local and from further afield.
The choir’s inaugural concert of Haydn’s Creation in April 2006, with professional soloists and orchestra, was highly acclaimed. The feedback, from members and audience alike, was very positive and there was great enthusiasm for continuing the choir as a regular group. In May 2007 the choir gave its second major concert, of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and in 2008 a celebration of British music commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Vaughan Williams’ death, including a performance of A Sea Symphony and his Serenade to Music. A sell-out performance of Messiah followed in 2009, with soprano Emma Kirkby included in the line-up of soloists, and in 2010 a memorable performance of Elgar’s The Kingdom. In May 2011 the choir performed Holst’s Hymn of Jesus and Poulenc’s Gloria and in 2012 Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Haydn’s Te Deum in C. 2013’s concert programme marked the bi-centenary of Verdi’s birth, with a performance of his Requiem. In 2014 the Chorus embarked on its biggest work yet, Elgar’s The Apostles, the first ever performance of it in the Abbey, followed in 2015 by Brahms’ A German Requiem. In 2016 the programme was Vaughan Williams’ rarely performed Sanca Civitas and in 2017 a return to Elgar, with The Dream of Gerontius.
Over the years our singers have come from far and wide, for the annual concert in the festival and for our Come and Sing events, as can be seen below: