"The group has undertaken three visits to Blois, France and to Waldshutt, Germany."
Based in East Sussex in the United Kingdom, we are a small, well-established group of up to 20 singers. The singers are all experienced artistes and some of them are professionally trained solo singers in their own right.
Our members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, opera, oratorio and recital. This means we can offer programmes which, as well as the full ensemble, can include solos, duets, quartets, sextets etc. in any combination of voices.
The group has undertaken three visits to Blois, France and to Waldshutt, Germany. The group has visited the USA twice and performed in Connecticut, Long Island, Little Rock, Conway, Clarksville and Stuttgart.
We have a wide and eclectic repertoire including: folk, part songs and madrigals, secular and religious music, opera, operetta, oratorio and jazz.
"Part of the charm of singing there in the summer was that the singers would join the small congregation in the churchyard after the service where wine would be served."
In 1982, the late Dick Passmore was approached to provide a group of singers to present small scale choral music at special church services in the Ouse Valley.
The group was originally an octet and were all members of New Sussex Opera (hence our name). The group remained an octet until 1990. The number of singers has slowly grown over the years and we currently have around 20 singers.
Over the years, our programmes have varied enormously but are always tailored to suit the occasion. As many of our original singers were from an opera company, many programmes have featured pieces from opera but variety has always been important and remains so to this day. The original church services were in Southease Church, a small church with over a thousand years of history in a beautiful rural setting. Part of the charm of singing there in the summer was that the singers would join the small congregation in the churchyard after the service where wine would be served. In the winter we would be invited back to the local farmhouse for something slightly warmer!
One of the major changes the choir has seen over the years is the role of music director. When the group first started there was no formal Musical Director. Instead, one of the contraltos, Janet Lovegrove, would conduct from the end of the line. However commendable this was, it left room for improvement and by the mid 1990s the number of singers had grown sufficiently to need a dedicated MD. Olive Kemm, who joined as a contralto, offered to act as MD and remained in this role until she was succeeded by John Baker in 1999. In 2008, Lee Reynolds took over as MD serving until the end of 2012. We were led for a short while in 2013 by Matt Greenwood and Ashley Beauchamp, then Christopher Braime. The position was then held by Alex Roose from 2014 to May 2017. Followed by Nathan Waring from May 2017. We are now excited to be working with Sebastian Charlesworth as we look to take the choir forward.