“And so this is Christmas, And what have we done.....?”

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It’s no surprise at all that 2019 has proved to be another bumper year for Surrey Music. Not only have we celebrated 10 years of Elmbridge Ladies Choir, raised in excess of £5000 for local charities but, perhaps most importantly, we started the year with two choirs and ended with three!

2019 got off to an amazing start for Surrey Music’s Founder and CEO, Cliff, without whom, as we all know, our choirs simply wouldn’t exist. Early in January Cliff was presented with a British Citizen Award for services to the Arts at the Palace of Westminster, a huge honour richly deserved, and we are all immensely proud of him!! Bravo Cliff!

March saw Elmbridge Choir and Elmbridge Ladies Choir join forces to perform for the Mayor at her charity fundraising concert in support of Elmbridge Rentstart. In her closing speech Cllr Shweta Kapadia commented that after hearing us sing, the concert name “Music with a Heart!” needed to be re-named to  “Music with a Heart – and Soul!” Perhaps she was right....

Elmbridge Ladies Choir has had a fantastic year of celebration. Coinciding nicely with their 10-year anniversary, the choir was delighted to win the coveted “Best Choir” award in the Essential Surrey Awards!! The choir’s 10th Anniversary concert “Now We Are 10!”, in support of the Dylan Howells Foundation, saw former Musical Directors Cliff, Ramon and Dale return to lead the ladies once more, before current MD Chris Parker reclaimed her rightful position in front of the ladies who then gave a simply stunning performance of their brand new repertoire. Having seen the concert, (and many previous concerts) the Mayor of Elmbridge, Cllr Mary Sheldon, commented that "Elmbridge must have been a very dull place before Elmbridge Choir and Elmbridge Ladies Choir!" (We think so too!)

Of course, we couldn’t let an important anniversary celebration pass without a party, and party they did! Congratulations on your 10th birthday Elmbridge Ladies Choir!

Cliff flying the Rainbow Flag

For the first time ever both choirs took a well-earned summer break this year, which was welcomed by all, particularly the MDs! However, it was never going to stop us taking part in what was, for many, the highlight of our year, the inaugural Pride in Surrey event. What a blast! Flag-waving, rainbow-bearing, glitter-wearing, sticker-displaying, adorned in tutus and sporting specially printed t-shirts, proudly carrying our Surrey Music banner, we turned out in force, proud to be showing our support to the LGBTQ+ community. And our performance on stage certainly got the party started as we belted out lively tunes across Woking Park, bedecked in sequins and tinsel wigs and our Cliff as we’ve never seen him before....

Such was our visibility and impact on the day that we had almost 100 new members signed up before the launch of our newest venture, Surrey Rainbow Choir, the first LGBTQ+ choir in Surrey. And what a success it has proved to be! Under the Musical Direction of Christopher Wray, within 7 weeks the choir was ready to perform three simply perfect songs at the society’s Christmas concert. Embracing and thriving under the culture and ethos of Surrey Music, Surrey Rainbow Choir members have quickly bonded and formed friendships - an amazing feat in such a short space of time. Well done and a huge welcome to Chris and the Rainbows!

“Colours of Winter” was our sparkling, sensational Christmas concert, with all three choirs performing together for the first time on stage, and supporting the charity Elmbridge CAN.

As well as our major concerts this year, as usual we have been out and about in the community, with performances at Elmbridge Food Festival and on BBC Music Day in support of Spelthorne Dementia. We were also invited once again to join the congregation at the Harrison’s Fund carol service in Cobham, and to sing under the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar square for Music in Hospitals.

There’s nothing our members like better than singing, but a close second has to be socialising! And thanks to our hard-working social committee we have had some great events this year: Car Treasure Hunt, Quiz Evening, Cinema trips, coffee mornings, members’ walks, Brooklands College meal, spectacular carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and of course our end of year hooley  - Jingle Bell Jolly, complete with several surprising in-house cabaret acts! What fun!

Once again this year we have witnessed the huge personal value and impact derived from membership of Surrey Music. Several of our members suffer with long-term illnesses but find choir membership and their choir friends a great strength and support. Sadly, we have lost three highly valued members of our society this year: Alison Florence and David Johnson who quietly but resolutely battled their respective illnesses, and Roy Flowers whose sudden passing was a shock to us all. All three were staunch supporters of Surrey Music, had many friends in the society, and will be greatly missed.

And so, “Another year over, a new one just begun” (or just about to!). What have we got in store? The Musical Directors and Management Team have been making plans for next year and without a doubt it’s going to be another cracker of a year! The first confirmed date is Saturday 23rd May when all three choirs will perform at HG Wells for our Spring Concert. We also have the launch of Brighton International Festival of Choirs from 3-7th September – a huge, HUGE project - but so incredibly exciting for us! 

Elmbridge Choir's first rehearsal

Most importantly, 2020 is Surrey Music’s 15th year!!! Yep, Elmbridge Choir’s first rehearsal was held on 6th September 2005 (see photo!) and, astonishingly, many members who were at that very first rehearsal are still coming along each week, proving that we must be doing something right! Without a doubt we will be celebrating this milestone – watch this space!

To all our members, “old” and new, thank you for being part of our wonderful society, and to our families and supporters, we wish you all a very happy, healthy, peaceful 2020.



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