Rachmaninov Vespers

We are delighted to announce that for our Summer 2020 programme we will be offering the choir the possibility of rehearsing Rachmaninov's Vespers digitally at home. 

Our new Music Director William Vann has very kindly offered to produce a series of 10 video podcasts, each about 15 minutes long, to be made available weekly to the choir between April 20 and the end of June, providing a framework for rehearsal at home. The piece lasts a little under an hour and is divided into 15 sections, most of which we will cover. The aim will be to tackle one section per video, both explaining its context and giving a guide to rehearsing it. The sheet music can be accessed online and we will send that round by email, while the videos will be accessible on a private YouTube channel with a code we will circulate. 

Once we have individually completed the on-line rehearsals, the idea is to organise a Come & Sing, perhaps in the Autumn or Winter, to bring together all those who have participated and hopefully others as well around from the neighbourhood. We may even be able to arrange a concert performance at some point in the coming year, perhaps during the spring or early summer of 2021, although that will very much depend on circumstances at the time.


Dulwich Choral Society is a thriving friendly local choir with over 100 members which normally rehearses on Monday evenings during term time from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Holst Hall at James Allen's Girls' School, East Dulwich Grove. During this period of national lockdown because of the Coronavirus, we like other choirs have had to suspend our rehearsals and concerts, but as outlined above, we are very much continuing our musical activities online.

Our members are drawn from across the entire local area  including Dulwich, Herne Hill, West Norwood, Crystal Palace and Brixton, as well as further afield. While we are an auditioned choir with high standards, the ability to read music and sing in tune are the two main requirements and everything else can be picked up in rehearsal. We welcome new members, and our membership secretaries Jane and Michael Palmer can be contacted at any time on membershipdcs@gmail.com.

The choir, which was founded in 1944, performs at least three concerts a year. These include two with professional orchestras and top-class soloists, typically in late autumn and early spring, and a third with a lighter programme in the summer. We also hold an Xmas music and carol concert, typically with a local primary or junior school, and also at least one Come & Sing event a year on a weekend when non-members are invited to rehearse and perform music with the choir in an informal and sociable setting. We welcome the opportunity to sing additionally at local festivals and similar events. For any enquiries, please contact DCS Chair Guy Collins on choir@dulwichchoral.com.



Our most recent concert was a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Benjamin Britten's Canticle II `Abraham and Isaac' and Jubilate in C, Janacek's Otcenas (Our Father) and Vaugh Williams's Let All the World. It took place at All Saints, West Dulwich on March 14, 2020 and was the final concert under the baton of our former Music Director Aidan Oliver, who has left us after 14 highly successful years to pursue his responsibilities at Glyndebourne and the Edinburgh International Festival. He has been replaced by our new Music Director William Vann, who is the founder and Artistic Director of the London English Song Festival and Director of Music at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Apart from the Rachmaninov Vespers project, our next planned concert for Autumn 2020, if conditions permit, will be Handel's Messiah at All Saints, West Dulwich, on Saturday Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Our previous concert was `An Evening With Bach,' featuring his Magnificat in D and Ascension Oratorio, at All Saints in November 2019. In the 2018-19 season we performed an ambitious programme encompassing Haydn and Vaughan Williams at JAG's Vaughan Williams Auditorium in November 2018, followed by Mendelssohn's Elijah at Cadogan Hall in April 2019, as well as Christmas and summer concerts. In addition to performing in the Dulwich area, the choir regularly appears more widely in central London and abroad, and a choir tour to Italy's Amalfi coast took place in October of last year.


Since 1998 the choir has undertaken tours to Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Germany and Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina; in 2014 the choir continued this tradition with a four day visit to Portugal, performing in Sintra and Lisbon, while in 2016 our singers visited Spain, focusing on the area around Madrid. The 2018 tour took us to Sorrento, Salerno and Ravello. Closer to home the choir performs in several of the beautiful churches in and around Dulwich, and enjoys a strong local following. If you would like to support the choir, you can find details of our Friends and Patrons scheme here.

Major recent concerts have included Mendelssohn's Elijah at Cadogan Hall in April 2019, Haydn's Mass in Time of War and Vaughan Williams's Toward the Unknown Region at JAGS Vaughan Williams Auditorium in December 2018, Handel's Samson at All Saints West Dulwich in Spring 2018, Beethoven’s Mass in C at All Saints, Dulwich in December 2017, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at Cadogan Hall in March 2017, Haydn’s Creation in Dulwich in October 2016 and the world premier of Jonathan Dove’s Arion and the Dolphin in the presence of the composer in March 2016. The choir has also recently performed both Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the beautiful surroundings of the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich.


Dulwich Choral Society


Registered Charity Number 264764

President Dame Emma Kirkby

Musical Director William Vann

Chair Guy Collins

Membership Secretary Jane & Michael Palmer

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