Choral society announces new patron

Tenors and basses of the Beccles Choral Society

Tenors and basses of the Beccles Choral Society - Credit: Archant

A choir with 150 years of history is celebrating the appointment of its new patron.

Beccles Choral Society

Beccles Choral Society - Credit: Archant

Beccles Choral Society has built up a strong reputation, and has gone from strength to strength over the past year, doubling its membership to over 80.

Their November performance of Handel's Messiah at St Michael's Church was enjoyed by an audience of almost 250 people.

And now internationally-renowned composer, conductor, singer, arranger and producer Ben Parry has followed in the footsteps of Benjamin Britten to become the society's latest patron.

Chairman of the society Marion Rainbird said: 'The high level of support Ben brings to the choir gives everyone a huge feeling of choral professionalism, which adds to our enthusiasm and passion to perform.

'Several members have said how much they enjoy singing with us because it is so friendly and there's a relaxed atmosphere, but everyone is still committed to rehearsals and performances.'

The announcement that Mr Parry, who is assistant director of music at King's College Cambridge, is now associated with the society has taken the choir to the next level. The choral society's president is Beccles mayor Hugh Taylor, who said: 'While I am Mayor I have the great privilege of being president of the society, I would like to add that, in common with a great many people in, around and beyond Beccles, I hold the society in the highest regard.

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'Their concerts are a wonderful mix of professional standard, high quality singing presented with enthusiasm, élan and sheer chutzpah - they offer a mix of glorious, heartfelt singing from a choir that does not take itself too seriously and whose members clearly enjoy themselves.

'Beccles is proud to be their home and, I like to think, their inspiration too.

'Having such a distinguished conductor in Geoff Lavery, accompanist in Terry Cannane and now Ben Parry as patron, the Beccles Choral Society can face the challenge of their 2016 programme, leading to a major national concert at Aldeburgh in 2017, with confidence and high expectation.'

Mr Lavery has known the society's new patron for several years, and it was Mr Parry who told him that Beccles Choral Society was looking for a musical director four years ago.

'In many ways it is thanks to him that I knew about the choir,' he said.

This year will see the end of a five-year-plan Mr Lavery had for the choir, meaning the time is right for a new challenge.

'In many ways it's a collaboration and a new start for us,' said Mr Lavery. 'What I thought would be appropriate was if Ben would just agree to be our patron and it's lovely he has said yes. For him to be associated with the Beccles Choral Society is a big deal, he's a very, very gifted musician.

'It's marvellous, I'm pleased because of the personal association, but I'm also pleased for Beccles because the choral society is getting recognised.'

Beccles Choral Society's next concert will be on May 22 at 4.30pm in St Michael's Church with a performance of Haydn's Creation.

For more on the society, which is seeking financial sponsorship, visit www.beccleschoralsociety.co.uk or call Mrs Rainbird on 01502 711601.