Our repertoire encompasses the standard choral classics by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Brahms and Mendelssohn, but often veers off at a tangent to include more playful things such as Gilbert and Sullivan, or modern works such as George Martin’s Mission Chorales, Richard Blackford’s Mirror of Perfection, and Bob Chilcott’s Dances of Time.
We rehearse in the New Warwick Hall in Burford, in preparation for three concerts a year. The choir enjoys the skilful support of the Cotswold Chamber Orchestra and professional vocal soloists as well as the inspirational leadership of our conductor, Brian Kay.
The law requires any organisation involving young people and/or vulnerable adults to take all reasonable measures to ensure that the risk of harm to their welfare are minimised, and where there are concerns, to share them with other local agencies.
You can download a copy of our Burford Singers Safeguarding Policy
We welcome new members with the enthusiasm to tackle the often challenging repertoire we perform. Tenors and basses are particularly welcome!
Each applicant undergoes a simple voice assessment with our Director of Music, and may then be offered Full Membership, or, if there are no immediate vacancies, Associate Membership. Associate Members may be invited to sing for one or two terms, sometimes at short notice.
As part of our outreach programme we fast-forward students and waive their subscription fee.
We rehearse on Thursday evenings from 7.30 to 9.30 p.m.
The current annual subscription is £195.
If you are interested please e-mail our membership secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org) or fill out our Contact Form for the attention of the Membership Secretary, giving the following details:
- Your full name, address (including postcode) and telephone number.
- Voice (i.e. soprano, alto, tenor or bass).
- Sight-reading ability (don’t worry if this is basic, as you will be encouraged to develop this skill during rehearsal).
- Any choirs you have sung in before.
Burford Singers History
The Burford Singers was formed around 1960, first of all as a group of three female voices singing folk songs at a garden party. In the 1960s there were around a dozen members, and rehearsals were held in members’ living rooms, with John Tayler as conductor.
As numbers grew, Warren Green took over as conductor in 1973, followed by Megan Smith from 1975 to 1978. Stephen Banfield (who later became Stanley Hugh Badock Professor of Music at Bristol University) followed Megan, and a lively series of concerts and other events ensued, including an appearance on BBC TV’s Sunday Worship series in July 1979. In 1980 Joyce Lang became conductor and introduced the choir (now with around twenty members) to Duruflé, Poulenc and Saint-Saens.
When Brian Etheridge took over as conductor in 1986, he recruited more members so that the choir could tackle major choral works, and the current pattern was established of three concerts each year. Membership grew to 80-plus and standards rose once more. As the owner of the Gallery in the High Street, Brian was literally at the heart of Burford and contributed enormously by organising not only ‘normal’ concerts but shows such as Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, and My Fair Lady. In April 2000 the choir gave acclaimed dramatised performances of Bach’s St John Passion in Burford Church and the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.
On his retirement in 2002, he invited Brian Kay to become his successor and since then the choir has continued to grow in numbers and popularity. A special focus has been the encouragement of young singers, by offering free membership of the choir.
Recent major events include several concerts as the finale of the Burford Festival, but possibly the most significant and moving occasions in recent years were two performances of Britten’s War Requiem given in June 2018 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Together with the English Arts Chorale, the combined forces of over 140 singers gave the first performance in Winchester Cathedral and the second in Tewkesbury Abbey.