Dulwich Choral Society


Registered Charity Number 264764

President Dame Emma Kirkby

Musical Director Aidan Oliver

Chairman Guy Collins

Membership Secretary Jane & Michael Palmer

Content © Dulwich Choral Society

 About Us          


Following his recent appointments as Chorus Director for both Glyndebourne and Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Aidan Oliver is leaving us at Easter 2020 after 13 hugely successful years as our Director. We are looking for a successor to build on his achievements and develop a new vision for our future.


DCS was founded in 1944 and is now one of the leading London amateur choirs. Since Aidan took over the choir, it has almost doubled in size to nearly 120 members and dramatically raised its standards. Highlights of our recent programme have included a cycle of the major choral works of Bach, in prestigious locations, the world première of Jonathan Dove’s Arion and the Dolphin, and, in April this year, our 75th anniversary concert: Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Cadogan Hall, with the City of London Sinfonia and Neal Davies as Elijah.

The choir rehearses on Monday evenings in term-time, from 7.30 to 9.30 pm, in the Holst Hall at James Allen’s Girls School, London SE22 8TE. This is a comfortable rehearsal space, with good acoustics and a grand piano. It is close to North Dulwich station and served by frequent buses linking Herne Hill and East Dulwich. We have a highly skilled professional accompanist. We normally give two major concerts, with high-calibre soloists and orchestra, in the autumn and around Easter, a lighter programme for smaller forces in June, and a carol concert in December to raise money for local charities. We also run a Come and Sing event in most years.

Most concerts are in local churches and halls, but every two or three years we hold one in a higher-profile location, such as the Old Royal Naval College Chapel in Greenwich or Cadogan Hall. Our orchestra has usually been the Dulwich Festival Orchestra, recruited for individual concerts from leading London orchestral players, but in baroque repertoire we have used established specialist period ensembles.

The choir has also undertaken a number of foreign tours, most recently to the Amalfi coast of Italy in October 2018. The choir is funded largely by members’ subscriptions (currently £190 per year: free membership for under-26-year-olds), plus donations from friends and sponsors and revenue from ticket sales. We receive no public subsidy, other than (as a registered charity) through Gift Aid. Membership candidates undergo a short and simple audition to ensure that they will be comfortable in the choir.

The choir is managed by a Management Committee, elected annually at the

Society’s AGM. The Music Director is an ex officio member of the Committee. The Committee have been seeking over the last two years to raise the choir’s profile in the local community, for example through enhanced publicity and engagement with local schools, and to encourage participation by younger people. As a result we have already seen a healthy influx of new members.


The DCS Music Director will play a leading role in maintaining and enhancing the musical standards of DCS while liaising with the elected Officers and Committee.

A primary responsibility will be to lead and conduct DCS weekly rehearsals and those immediately preceding concerts.

The Music Director will lead and conduct DCS concerts and other events (e g Come and Sing Days), which often include professional orchestral players and soloists alongside the choir.

The Music Director will prepare a two-year rolling forward programme of concerts and events for discussion and agreement with the Committee and, within this, will:

· in addition to core choral classics, broaden the choir’s horizons with appropriate new challenges, but without losing sight of the need to retain a strong and committed membership and secure good attendance at our concerts

· promote greater engagement between the choir and the South London community, including with other music groups

· maintain and enhance the choir’s performance standards and the overall quality of our events, within agreed budgets.

In preparation for each concert or event the Music Director will:

· taking account of the choir’s financial position at the time, provide a statement of the required resources (orchestral/instrumental forces, soloists, hire of instruments and scores etc) and costings in good time for the procurement approach to be considered and agreed by the Committee in an orderly way

· engage individual musicians and soloists as required, in consultation with the Committee

· provide input as required in a timely manner to concert programmes and publicity, and to decisions on stage management

· organise the rehearsal schedule to ensure that the choir are as well prepared as possible and, on concert day, that the other forces involved are effectively prepared and integrated.

· - arrange a suitable substitute in the event of any absences, planned or unplanned, including that of the regular accompanist.The Music Director must be available for the great majority of rehearsals. Planned absences must be agreed with the Committee in advance with as much notice as possible.

The Music Director will assist in the planning and execution of choir tours. The Music Director will hold brief voice appraisals for all potential new members, ideally within three weeks of their applying to join the choir. He or she will also advise as necessary on any individual vocal issues that may affect the standards achievable by the choir as a whole. The Music Director will work closely with the DCS Officers and Committee:

· after due consultation on dates, attending meetings of the Management Committee: there are normally two or three meetings each term

· dealing promptly with issues and queries raised by Committee members between meetings

· producing options and advisory Committee papers as agreed and helping develop the DCS annual budget and concert costings.


Essential: the appointee will have:

· A strong track record of working with amateur choirs and achieving high standards of performance.

· Significant experience of working with orchestras/instrumentalists and vocal soloists.

· A good network of contacts of orchestras/instrumentalists and vocal soloists within the London area.

· Strong motivational and leadership qualities, and a demonstrated ability to run enjoyable and productive rehearsals.

· A positive and inclusive approach, with a friendly and collegiate style of working with non-professional singers.

· Familiarity with a wide choral repertoire.

· A proven track record of creative, practical and effective programming for choirs and/or other ensembles.

· Experience of working in an effective and collegiate manner with planning committees to achieve good artistic, audience and financial outcomes.

Other desirable attributes/experience:

· Experience as a singer at professional or comparable level, and a good knowledge of vocal technique.

· Foreign language skills, particularly in the pronunciation of core choral languages.

· Ability to lead rehearsals from the keyboard as necessary.

· Social media and IT skills.


The Music Director will be paid fees, at rates to be negotiated taking account of market conditions - for each rehearsal undertaken (typically around 35 per year) - for each concert or event conducted or led.


The closing date for applications is 15 January 2020. They should be sent to the Society’s Secretary, Peter Main,  at plmain@gmail.com. Applicants should provide: - a CV - a brief statement (not more than 2 sides of A4) of how they consider they match up to the job and personal specifications above - the names and contact details of two referees - links to any relevant social media accounts and websites.

The DCS Management Committee will review all applications and draw up a short list of candidates for interview, on a date or dates to be arranged. Following the interviews, the Committee will select a few candidates to undertake trial rehearsals with the choir on, subject to availability, the evening of 2 March.

After the trials they will select a favoured candidate and seek to agree terms. The Committee will aim to complete the process in time for the new Director to take up his or her duties immediately after Easter 2020.

Dulwich Choral Society
November 2019