Hailsham Choral

Singing with a great choir !



Below is a selection of highlights from our recent concerts.

We strongly recommend that you take a look at the accompanying programmes which often run to 12 or 16 pages for the bigger concerts. So much hard work goes into their production that they need to be available to all.


For a full list of concerts since 2003 see here.


Summer 2017 poster

1st July 2017
Rutter: Magnificat &
Haddow: The Whispering Mass

No concert review for this one, but the evening was noteworthy for the first performance of parts of a new composition The Whispering Mass by one of our choir members, Marcus Haddow. Marcus writes about its composition:

“The Whispering Mass started to write itself while driving one day...The music just cut through the babble of the BBC2 breakfast show with such ferocity that I had to scribble down the ideas in my diary at the next available carpark”.
We look forward to singing the whole of the work at a future date.

Good Friday 14th April 2017
Stainer: The Crucifixion

25th March 2017
Handel: Dettingen Te Deum & Messiah Part II

Concert review by Robin Gregory:

Jozik Kotz (pronounce that Yewjik, approximately) has been Musical Director of Hailsham Choral Society for more than a decade. His choir is, by now, undoubtedly one of the finest in this area; and a double-dose of Handel at All Saints Church on March 25th certainly bore out this judgment.

One of the works performed (Messiah) is well-known, though there are very many alternative ways of playing it. The other (Dettingham Te Deum) is seldom heard, so it was well-judged to describe the work's background in a nicely-produced 12-page programme. Wise, too, to place Dettingham before the interval, thus enabling the audience to go home with the Hallelujah Chorus ringing in their ears.

Handel planned this Te Deum as a grand celebration of a British victory over the French in July 1743. Unfortunately its first performance was five months delayed, and took place in the tiny Chapel Royal of St James's Palace. We were privileged to hear it in the relatively spacious acoustic of All Saints Church. Choir, orchestra and soloists showed throughout that they had assimilated the composer's grand intentions. The strings , led by Brian Knights, seemed to relish a work which was probably new to most of them, and there was some fine solo trumpet in “Thou art the King of Glory”, “Day by Day” and “In Thee have I Trusted”. The substantial solos for bass voice were commandingly delivered by Daniel Jordan, who never seemed to suffer the problems of a baritone singing a bass role. Rebecca Anstey (mezzo-soprano, but singing contralto) brought great beauty of tone to the concluding section of a work we should hear more often.

Messiah Part Two showed the performers on home territory. The choir was responsive to every nuance of Jozik's conducting, with the balance between male and female voices perfect. There were a few surprises: for example “He was cut off” and the following “But thou didst not leave” were shown on the programme as to be sung by the soprano, but in fact were projected by the magnificent tenor voice of Stephen Rooke. Catrin Woodruff was, however, able to display her high, bright soprano voice in “Thou art gone up” and “How beautiful are the feet”. The exquisite aria “He was despised” enabled Rebecca to produce her most tender tone with real feeling: something rare in big oratorios. Stephen's fine tenor-sound (more Pavarotti than Heddle Nash) was heard again in “Thy Rebuke” and “Behold and See”.

Evenings like this don't happen by chance. They need ample focussed rehearsal, and no doubt their rehearsal pianist Colin Hughes had contributed his musical skills on many occasions. He played keyboard continuo at the performance.

The choir will be singing Stainer's Crucifixion on April 14th at Hailsham Parish Church, and Rutter's Magnificat in the Civic Community Hall on July 1st. We eagerly look forward to their next appearance in Eastbourne.

(Review by Robin Gregory : March 2017)

12th November 2016
Vaughan Williams: Five Mystical Songs & European Sacred Music

Featuring works by Mozart, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Handl, Handel, Lotti, Gabrieli, Buxtehude, Monteverdi and more...

Concert review by Robin Gregory:

On November 12th 2016, Hailsham Choral Society presented, at All Saints Church, arguably the most ambitious concert in Eastbourne for many years. Under the title “Glories of European Church Music” we had items from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Bach, Handel, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Vaughan Williams are household names; but in addition we heard Gabrieli, Lotti, Monteverdi, Handl (also known as Gallus), Lassus, Buxtehude and Bruckner. Mercifully the superb 16-page printed programme was a mine of well-written information, compiled by choir-member Ian Fry.

The concert was dedicated to Caroline Hunt, who died in June. She sang with the Society almost literally to her dying day. And there could have been no greater tribute to her than the evening‘s magical performance.

Conductor Jozik Kotz, and organist Colin Hughes, drew magnificent singing from every part of the choir. Whether the demand was for a whispered pianissimo or a blazing forte, it was forthcoming. Whether the text was in German, Russian or English, everything was clear, audible and balanced.

The baritone soloist in Vaughan Williams‘s Five Mystical Songs, Bach‘s Quia Fecit and Buxtehude‘s Magnificat was Daniel Jordan, Director of Music at Eastbourne College. He impressed with his evenness over the entire baritone range, and his immersion in the music. He will be a fine addition to the soloists available in the Eastbourne area. Equally impressive was the fact that several solo parts were taken most ably by members of the choir.

During the interval I ran into Colin Tarn, a former conductor of the same Choral Society. Colin‘s musical background was vast, ranging from musical direction of several London shows, to sparkling jazz pianism, and a sense of musical humour that was even more persuasive than Victor Borge. His generous comment on the evening of music-making we were enjoying was, “If I could have got even a tenth of that quality when I was conducting the Society I‘d have been well-satisfied”. So don‘t take my personal glowing report as “gospel”. A real expert was even more admiring.

(Review by Robin Gregory : Nov 2016)

19th March 2016
Haydn: St. Nicholas Mass & Mozart: Requiem

Concert review by Robin Gregory:

Haydn (1732 - 1809) was a generation older than Mozart, yet he outlived the younger composer by some eighteen years. Hailsham Choral Society’s decision to perform Haydn’s St Nicholas Mass of 1772 immediately before Mozart’s Requiem , which was left incomplete at the composer’s death in 1791, was a masterstroke. Their printed programme contained superb essays dealing with the composers’ friendship and mutual admiration.

Hailsham Choral Society, under their conductor for ten years Jozik Kotz, brought passion, conviction and musical insight to both works. All Saints, Eastbourne proved an ideal venue for the Haydn Mass: welcoming, full, and acoustically appropriate. From the very start Eastbourne’s Mayor, Janet Coles, enjoyed a performance that did full justice to this half-hour of incomparable choral music. The 30-piece orchestra (led by Lisa Wigmore) was in great form, the choir had clearly been brought to perfection at just the right moment, and the four soloists could not have been better chosen. Lyric soprano Noa Lachman and mezzo Rebecca Anstey used their very different voices to great effect, blending when required, each with individual beauty in solo passages. Tenor Stephen Rooke displayed both power and delicacy as required: a voice that has been honed in the opera-house without ever losing its bloom. Riccardo Simonetti (baritone) showed that winning the Anne Ziegler Award (mis-spelled in the programme) while still at college was no accident.

Mozart’s Requiem was completed by Sussmayr, and the printed programme described the stressful process that brought this about. Though it is often said that he was not the equal of Mozart, the fact is that in a performance as convincing as that given on the 19th of March at All Saints we are forever in his debt. This masterwork duly received an extended ovation, well-deserved by choir, orchestra and the same four soloists.

Hailsham’s fine Choral Society can be heard in Pevensey’s 800 year-old St Nicholas Church at 7 pm on June 11th. They give a Summer Concert in Hailsham’s Community Hall at 3 pm on July 3rd, and are back at Eastbourne’s All Saints on November 12th.

(Review by Robin Gregory : Mar 2016)

7th November 2015
Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle

Concert review by Robin Gregory

Arriving early for the concert at All Saints Church on November 7 (in the hope of avoiding Eastbourne’s parking difficulties) I had time to study the printed programme. Four illustrated pages contained a superb account by choir member Ian Fry of Rossini’s life.

This placed the night’s single work in the context of the composer’s brilliant career. In addition I was able to read biographies of the four soloists: an impressive line-up indeed. Noa Lachman has recently established herself as one of the best lyric sopranos hereabouts; Rebecca Anstey is a mezzo with the tone and range to sing as a contralto when required; tenor Stephen Rooke is equally at home in opera as in oratorio (an essential in the Petite Messe Solennelle, the night’s undertaking); and Riccardo Simonetti is a widely experienced baritone.

Rossini’s Messe is by no means Petite. This remarkable setting of the Latin Mass was his last major work, and all his vast operatic experience is therein. It was an inspiration on the part of conductor Jozik Kotz to give us a performance with the composer’s original accompaniment of piano and harmonium, though of course the latter was electronically activated. Colin Hughes (who can turn his hand to organ, piano and violin with equal facility) and John Ross (distinguished organist joining the Hailsham forces for the first time) were the two keyboard rocks on which Jozik built his superb musical edifice.

Throughout, the Hailsham Choral Society was beyond any criticism. The quiet passages never lost balance, the tone was round and smooth, and the climaxes (as in the great Amen which ends the Resurrexit) were spine-tingling. Some of the solo items deserve special mention too: the thrilling power of Stephen Rooke’s Domine Deus; the ethereal beauty of Noa Lachman’s O salutaris; the manner in which harmonium merged into the wonderfully-played piano’s Preludio Religioso; the combination of power with spirituality in Rebecca Anstey’s closing Agnus Dei.

The Hailsham Choral Society is back in Eastbourne with Mozart and Haydn on March 19 next year. Unmissable!

(Review by Robin Gregory : Nov 2015)

21st March 2015
Haydn: Imperial 'Nelson' Mass
Purcell: 'Funeral Music for Queen Mary' and
'Te Deum Laudamus & Jubilate Deo in 'D'

Autumn 2014 poster

8th November 2014
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Parry: Songs of Farewell

Haydn: Insanae et vanae curae
Parry: Blest pair of Sirens
and more...

Concert review by Robin Gregory

Choir turns problem into triumph

Eastbourne is a town where lovers of choral singing can enjoy performances by an abundance of good choirs. A “Concert for the Eve of Remembrance Sunday” at All Saints Church showed the talented Hailsham Choral Society in fine form. Yet conductor Jozik Kotz had been obliged to concoct an entirely new programme with only a few weeks’ notice when circumstances forced the abandonment of the work already in preparation.

In the event, those who braved a stormy night were rewarded with some fine singing and playing. And what a range of music we heard: Haydn, Mozart, Bruckner, Parry, Handel, Bernstein, Guest and Neal. Furthermore, a remarkable line-up of soloists was added to the unfailing beauty of tone which Jozik drew from his choir. Twenty-three year old soprano Nia Coleman filled the church with golden sound in Mozart’s Laudate Dominum and Dona nobis pacem, and in Handel’s How beautiful are the feet and Let the bright seraphim. Hers is a lyric voice already under complete control: she will go far.


Soloists Ben Hancox-Lachman joined Nia as soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. He is just thirteen, the son of pianist William Hancox and soprano Noa Lachman. Soon he will face the moment when his present liquid treble will “break”, but his musically-gifted parents will give him sound advice. In the unlikely event of his singing voice “vanishing” he is already no mean cellist!

The solo harp in the Psalms was none other than Jane Lister, who had recorded the part with the composer conducting. Fabian Edwards was percussionist par excellence in this noble work: no surprise, as he had earlier in the programme played Gorymdaith (Procession), a five-minute display of varied (sometimes remorseless) percussionism by Alex Neal (born in Colchester, 1971).

Other items included Motets by Bruckner, Blest Pair of Sirens and Songs of Farewell by Parry, and For the Fallen by Douglas Guest. Throughout, the organ or keyboard was played to perfection by Colin Hughes. Jozik proved once again that he is an all-round musician (his baritone singing and his conducting skills are well known) by playing the oboe in Let the Bright Seraphim. From within the choir Pam Russell, Marcus Haddow and GrahamKeeley sang their solo passages with assurance.

This is a choir with depth. Bass Ian Fry, I learn, compiled the thorough, informative and readable printed programme. Their carol concert is on Dec 18th in Hailsham, and then on March 21st they are back at All Saints with Haydn’s Nelson Mass.

(Review by Robin Gregory : November 2014)

5th April 2014
Duruflé: 'Requiem'
Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine
Rutter: 'Mass of the Children'

with Bede’s School Choir

Concert review by Robin Gregory

Fauré was a nineteen year old student when he wrote the prize-winning “Cantique de Jean Racine”. In it is the unmistakeable sound that will make him one of France’s favourite composers, and within its five minute span one can judge the quality of any choir which sings it. Conductor Jozik Kotz drew a magically spiritual sound from the Hailsham Choral Society, admirably accompanied on All Saints Church’s fine organ by Colin Hughes, who is now well-established as Director of Music at Bede’s School.

Duruflé’s Requiem was composed between 1941 and 47, but there is nothing “modern” about it. It looks back to Fauré’s Requiem. Indeed, much of its inspiration derives from far-earlier Plainsong. It is establishing itself as a popular choice by choirs who can enter its other-worldliness without losing the musical impetus. Jozik is himself a fine singer with an established career, and I suspect he spent a lot of time at rehearsal drawing the necessary subtlety from his performers. The result was a rendering that seemed to integrate every thread into a magic calm. Colin Hughes (organ) and soloists Nia Coleman and James Proctor were part of this magic.

There’s nothing “modern” about John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” either, even though its first performance was in New York a mere eleven years ago, conducted by the composer. It’s a big challenge, with children performing alongside an adult choir. The score is unfailingly tuneful, but it bristles with moments when musical discipline can fail, and not all conductors can integrate their resources for this forty-minute show-piece. On this occasion we were treated to a marvellous example of how it should be done. The Bede’s Choir had clearly been taught to sing properly by Colin Hughes. The same soloists (Nia and James) were an integral part of the whole rather than being spot-lit celebrities. The Hailsham Choral Society was on fine form. No wonder the former Head of Bede’s (bravely nursing a serious ski injury) had a smile on his face. There was one on mine too.

(Review by Robin Gregory : April 2014)

9th November 2013
Purcell: 'Dido and Aeneas' & Opera Choruses

Concert review by Robin Gregory

How to put on a great choral concert....

Imagine you are the conductor of a large choral society. You know your singers well - their strengths and their limitations.
You choose to stretch them to the limit, confident they will rise to the occasion.

Next book a venue and a date - Saturday, November 9 and All Saints Church in Eastbourne. There you can be sure church manager, 'Andie' Anderson, will welcome you with a smile and a warm building.
You decide to present a complete performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas as Part One, and that requires several soloists. They don't come cheap, so you begin by thinking carefully about choir members with the ability to carry a solo part.
You decide Fiona and Marcus Haddow, Rachel Chilton and Christina Lynn will make fine Witches, Spirits and a Sailor, but you'd better be sure the role of Dido and her handmaid Belinda are in very gifted hands.
And here's where local knowledge pays off, because you know Bede's School has a fine mezzo who teaches there, and that an outstanding lyric soprano lives in Herstmonceux.
You book Rebecca Anstey and Noa Lachman. Oops, almost forgot the tenor. Give Richard Ogden a buzz. He has Eastbourne connections (College), and sings with the Oxford Clerks. Relief - he's available.
Job done? Oh dear, no! You need an orchestra. Choose a leader - vastly experienced Lisa Wigmore says she can be there. Somehow, you put together a large band of experienced musicians. Just as well, for the demands on them will be considerable.
Nothing much to do now except rehearse, encourage, inspire, think of transport, study scores, arrange for a useful and informative printed programme, arrange drinks for the interval...
Lucky the man in charge, conductor and musical director Jozik Kotz, has sung at Glyndebourne, Paris, Vienna, Zurich, Madrid .................

So how did they all do? Wonderfully.
Hailsham Choral Society has made a 'home' at All Saints, and there's a big audience, including the Mayors of Eastbourne and Hailsham. The opening opera goes well. The ex-choir soloists give confident, characterful performances and Noa Lachman's exquisite lyric soprano sits perfectly on the playing of the orchestra.
Rebecca Anstey not only covers the range demanded of a Dido, but doubles as the Sorceress, where she wears a fetching silver mask to add a touch of menace.
Richard Ogden sings musically, conveying the dilemma facing Aeneas. A good first half indeed!
Part Two is, if anything, even more amazing. Choir, orchestra and Noa waft many a gentle breeze in Idomeneo. This is the best of Mozart, and he must have been smiling to hear such ravishing sounds.
Change of mood. The Polovtsian Dances from Borodin's Prince Igor. Jozik wields the whip, demands a swift tempo, and gets it. Choir and orchestra respond, and the boom-ta-ra, boom-ta-ra section almost topples the church steeple.
We are relieved (once the applause dies away) to hear both Noa and Rebecca safely outside the "Cav" Church, joining the choir in Mascagni's Easter Hymn.
This beautiful interlude in what is now thought of as the first verismo opera was followed by another mood-change: Rebecca is now Bizet's Carmen in the Habanera: not too sexy (this is a church, after all), but secure and foot-tapping over the entire vocal range.
The concert ends with three of Verdi's hits. Unbelievably he was born 200 years ago, but the excerpts from Traviata, Nabucco and Aida sound as fresh as ever.
By now chorus and orchestra are in full flight, and there's some stunning brass to be heard above the soaring strings.
This was, surely, the best ten-quid's worth in town - an evening to make even the wind and rain bearable!

(Robin Gregory: Taken from Eastbourne Herald - 22nd November 2013)

10th November 2012
Vaughan Williams: 'Donna Nobis Pacem' & Puccini 'Messa di Gloria'

Concert review by Robin Gregory:

Golden Rules for Choral Societies to ensure a great evening: first, choose a warm, welcoming venue; second, offer music that is a little out of the ordinary but which is packed with tunes; third, provide an informative programme booklet; and fourth, Work! Work! Work! On November 10th everything came right for the visit to Eastbourne of immensely talented conductor Jozik Kotz with the Hailsham Choral Society. Not only were the “rules” carried out to the letter, but the choir, soloists and orchestra were in great form.

Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams is a demanding work mainly composed in 1936 but using a composition from 1911 as one of its six movements. The orchestra (un-named, but led by well-known Lisa Wigmore) numbered some three dozen instrumentalists, and their playing under the conductor’s clear beat was well up to the great demands made on it. The Hailsham Choral Society gave a thoroughly committed account of a masterpiece which sets words by Walt Whitman, passages from the Bible, the Latin Mass, and a speech dating from the days of the Crimean War. Inevitably some of the words were drowned by RVW’s orchestration at times, which is why a clearly-printed programme that offers listeners the texts is so important.

This account of one of the less-heard triumphs of the English choral tradition had three secret weapons: soloists of exceptional quality. Noa Lachman lives locally and is as good a lyric soprano as one could hope to hear anywhere. Her floated pianissimos and her unfailing musicality would have delighted the composer, who would have been equally enthusiastic about the bass-baritone Edward Price. This duo’s tonal beauty, power and insight were an irresistible combination.

The other work was by Puccini: a Mass usually billed as Messa di Gloria, though the title was incorrectly chosen by a publisher as late as 1951. (A true Messa di Gloria has only a Kyrie and a Gloria, whereas Puccini’s work has in addition a Credo, a Sanctus, and an Agnus Dei.) Again, fine singing and playing, with Welsh tenor Stephen Rooke’s ringing Nessun Dorma-like voice in evidence, and Edward Price ably singing both baritone and bass parts. The orchestra and choir, refreshed after the interval, were (shall we say) “gentler” than in the RVW work, but that is just as it should be. We were delighted to have had such a fine evening which gave us all the opportunity to become familiar with two works that deserve more exposure than they have had hitherto.

(Robin Gregory 12th Nov 2012)