St Mary's music
St Mary's Choir
St Mary's Choir has a tradition extending back for well over 120 years of providing a high standard of music for the services of the church. In addition to the weekly Sunday morning services, Book of Common Prayer Choral Eucharist and Choral Evensong services are sung to traditional settings on the first and third Sunday evenings respectively of each month. Full choral settings are also sung on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Ascension Day.
As well as having sung services at our own diocesan Cathedral of Guildford, and The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, the choir regularly sings services at Chichester Cathedral, last year having been on Sunday 4th November. This year we will be in residence the weekend of Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd November.
The choir has been affiliated to the RSCM since 1969. The junior choristers follow the 'Voice for Life' scheme and take the RSCM’s examinations for Dean’s and Bishop’s Awards once they are of the appropriate standard.
Our Junior Choristers have all been successful in recent music exams, with Khala and Molly having gained their Grade 1 Singing exams, Khala with merit. Serena and Sebastian have exams coming up, and we wish them well. It is a delight to have a flourishing junior section, with 11 children joining us, but if there are any others who are interested in singing, we would love to hear from them.
We were delighted to raise over £1200 for church funds through an Organ and Choir Recital this summer, and look forward to singing in other concerts in the future.
We had another glorious day of sunshine for our social trip to Littlehampton, with sandcastles, sea, ice cream and fish and chips enjoyed by all. Daniel became the new Crazy Golf Champion for the Junior Choristers, and Chris was the overall winner! We look forward to the Choir BBQ in September.
Meanwhile, the choir continues to recruit new members to both Junior and Adult choirs. If you enjoy singing and would like to find out more about us, please contact our Director of Music, Douglas Tang firstname.lastname@example.org
The Choir in action at the Summer Concert
Crazy Golf Tournament at Choir Social, Littlehampton 2019
Carol Singing in The Ditton in aid of Shooting Star Chase
Carol Singing at Surbiton Station in aid of Shooting Star Chase
The Choir at Chichester Cathedral 2018
St Mary's Minors
There is also a ‘Minors’ Choir for children aged 5-7 who practise before the service on Sunday mornings and then join the Church Choir at the administration, to sing a communion hymn and the final hymn of the service. Members of this group then progress to the main church choir.
Thanks to support from The Ouseley Trust, ( ) the church is able to offer choral and organ scholarships to school pupils in years 11 – 13, to encourage and prepare them for music scholarships in further education either at universities or in cathedrals.
The value of the scholarships, which are intended to help towards the costs of singing or organ lessons, will depend upon the number and quality of applicants. Organ scholars will have free use of the organ and be able to participate in services.
For further information, please contact our Director of Music, Douglas Tang email@example.com
The Hunter Organ
The first organ in the new 1880 church, with two manuals and fifteen stops, was built by Forster and Andrews of Hull and installed in 1881. Early photographs and paintings of the church show that the casework projected into the chancel, unlike the present instrument.
In 1928, after nearly fifty years, the organ was in need of attention and the lowest estimate by Abbott and Smith of Leeds, was accepted. Unfortunately they converted the organ to pneumatic action which was unreliable and the instrument received attention from four different organ builders over the following forty years.
Eventually the unreliability reached a point where it was decided that the organ should be replaced with an instrument with mechanical tracker action (like the original Forster and Andrews organ). Matthew Copley, a local organ builder installed an organ originally built c1860 by Alfred Hunter for the former Borough Road Baptist Chapel in South London.
This organ was installed in 1984 with the addition of a mixture stop and a good 16ft pedal stop by Hill, but only six years later it was damaged by smoke from a serious fire in the church vestry. Repairs were executed in 1992 together with some additions and modifications, including converting the pedals to electric action.
In 2013 – 2014 the organ was overhauled by Andrew Cooper. His work included a new solenoid-operated electric stop action and combination action, providing 4 thumb pistons to Swell, 4 thumb pistons to Great & Pedal, three reversible thumb pistons to Swell to Great, Swell to Pedal and Great to Pedal, plus a General Cancel and a setter piston. The Swell suboctave coupler key contacts were replaced to a modified design to improve the key touch and the Pedal key action switching replaced. The main Swell and Great key actions and couplers were overhauled and remain mechanical.
The bellows was re-leathered, the manual and pedal keys refurbished, the pedalboard relocated at the right height relative to the manual keys and a new adjustable stool provided. The Great Organ soundboard and wind trunks were modified to provide reliable tuning and a steady wind supply.
The Great Stopped Diapason, Principal and Fifteenth were replaced as the previous pipework was beyond repair, as was the treble (from Tenor G) of the Swell Trumpet. The Great Mixture composition was modified in the treble and the Swell Gamba revoiced.
The front pipes are now painted gold with silver mouths.
The Organ Consultant was John Norman
The opening recital was given by Philip Berg, MVO, Master of the Music of The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy on 13 September 2014.