To find out more about us, read these answers to....
What is Winchester Community Choir?
We are a group of people who join together to sing for fun. The choir grew out of a series of workshops that ran in 2005 when lots of the participants expressed the desire for a choir in Winchester that would be open to all, without audition. Now we meet weekly during term time at The United Church, Jewry Street, Winchester at 7:30pm on Tuesdays.
Who are members of the choir?
Some of our members are experienced singers who have been in other choirs, others haven’t sung since school. We particularly welcome members who are new to social singing; don’t worry if you can’t read music as this isn’t necessary to participate in a community choir.
Who conducts the choir?
Carolyn Robson (pictured) is our Music Director. She studied music at the London Royal Academy of Music in the 1970s before becoming a radio presenter, teacher and Education Officer for the English Folk Dance and Song Society in the 1990s. She is music director of four community choirs in Hampshire and contributes to choir workshops across the country and internationally. She performs as a soloist and with other artists and has an extensive discography, beginning with her first album in 1981, Banks of Tyne. Her repertoire consists of songs from her native Northumberland and Scotland as well as from other parts of the British Isles, and further afield.
Learn more at Carolyn's website
What type of songs do you sing?
All sorts - mainly folk, some international songs, gospel, seasonal songs such as carols, and some classical pieces. The focus is on singing for fun. We sing in rounds and unaccompanied harmony arrangements. We don’t have fixed sections of the choir and members are encouraged to move around and try singing various parts for different songs.
So how do you learn songs if lots of members can’t read music?
We learn songs by ear. Here's an example, a song in four parts called This Day is Past written by Maddy Taylor and arranged for choir by Graham Pratt
Members download the song lyrics from the password-protected MEMBERS ONLY area of this website.
At rehearsals, the music is taught to us line by line by our Music Director. If you like singing you will enjoy doing this, even though we often get it wrong at first! There is safety in numbers and no one is forced to sing solo.
Return to the song the next week and repeat. And often it's as simple as that. But if you are having trouble with a song (a few of them are trickily counter intuitive), and you are not sure what you are doing you can practice at home using sound files downloaded or streamed from the MEMBERS ONLY area of this website. Here are the sound files for This Day is Past.
What do you call the sections of a choir? Not a pub quiz question but something to help you understand what we've said about this song. The four sections of our choir are called:
TUNES - as the name suggests this section usually sings the tune! Other choirs may call this section the Sopranos (S on printed music scores), or the Airs.
ALTOs - lower female voices.
TOPS - high voices (usually female). They sing the part that would be tackled by male tenors in other choirs.
BASSES - the men
After a term's rehearsal most pieces are good enough for performance at one of our public concerts. Here's the first verse and chorus of This Day is Past performed at our summer concert in 2019...
We do not rely on music scores for most of our repertoire. For those who read music, our Music Director can provide copyright-free scores for some songs but most pieces are in copyright and may be available for purchase. This Day is Past is part of a collection of songs called Fine Songs for Singing and can be purchased on-line.
If this way of learning to sing in a choir is something you would like to try, why not join us for two free rehearsals?
So what can I do if I am interested in joining?
Contact us by completing the form on our JOIN US page.
You will be able to try us out for free for 2 sessions. After that, we ask you to decide whether or not you are going to join the choir.
How much does it cost to join?
From January 2023 the cost of choir membership is £44 per term. We offer a concessionary rate (£36 per term) for students and people who are unemployed or retired. New members benefit from a 20% discount on their first term's subscription.
Membership subscriptions are paid at the beginning of each term by Direct Debit. Our Membership Secretary will tell you more about this if you decide to join us.
What do you do with the money?
We are non-profit making. We use the membership fees to pay our Music Director, hire venues for rehearsals and performances and cover our running costs. Accounts are presented to members at the annual general meeting.
We donate to other charities a proportion of ticket sales and all that we are given in retiring collections at our concerts. Charities that benefit from this are nominated by choir members and approved by the WCC committee.
The choir has given more than £40,000 to charity over the years. Follow this link to learn more about our fundraising activities...
Do I have to attend rehearsal every week?
No, we recognise that people are occasionally unable to attend rehearsals. As a courtesy to other members though, we do ask a level of attendance which will enable the choir repertoire to continue to grow and enable us to prepare for performances. For this reason members are asked to attend at least 75% of the rehearsals each term. Absences of longer than this can be granted, by agreement of committee, in special circumstances but as a general rule attendance at as many rehearsals as possible is encouraged.
And do you perform?
Yes, we enjoy singing in the community and raising money for local charities through concerts and carol singing. WCC has links with other Hampshire community choirs and we’ve sung at concerts in groups of 100+ with them. We plan to continue to perform regularly in the community and welcome suggestions from members for occasions and venues.
Visit our Concert Archive for more about past concerts and events.
Do I have to perform?
Well, it isn’t compulsory, but we do hope you’ll want to join us for performances as they are great fun. Of course, you will need to be confident that you know the songs before performing, which may take a month or two, but even if you haven’t been in a choir before, Carolyn will get you ready to perform.
How is the choir run?
The choir was an informal association of its members until March 2022 when we became a registered charity. Our charity trustees are elected by choir members at an annual general meeting. They and our Music Director organise the choir and its activities.
Here is a key documents about our status as a charity. It's our constitution. It's the basis on which we were granted registered charity status.
Our charity number is 1198281. You can see what's on record about us at the Charity Commission HERE.
Can I help to run the choir?
Yes please! There are lots of opportunities to get involved with running the choir, so please let us know if you would like to help.
Our non-singing volunteers are an important part of the WCC family. There are volunteering opportunities, like stewarding at concerts, organising carol singing in nursing homes, or helping with choir admin. Email us at email@example.com if you are interested