Billingshurst Choral Society (BCS) is a lively and well-established choir based in West Sussex. Founded in 1986 by a group of friends, including the founding Musical Director George Jones, we celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2016, and membership is currently around 100 singers. We rehearse at Billingshurst Primary School on Tuesday evenings during term time, from 7:30 pm to 9:45 pm.
What do we sing?
The choir has a wide repertoire, ranging from Handel, Bach and Beethoven to Verdi and Vaughan Williams, including modern composers Rutter, Chilcott, Jenkins, Todd and Goodall.
Beyond the regular choral works we have performed the premiere of The Billingshurst Mass, composed for BCS by Sir Stanley Vann, African Sanctus by David Fanshawe, Mass in Blue by Will Todd, Zimbe! by Alexander L’Estrange, and the UK premiere of Requiem, for victims of Nazi persecution, by the Norwegian composer Ståle Kleiberg, which was performed in Hove, East Sussex, as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival.
In 2003 BCS joined the The Angmering Chorale to give the first amateur performance in the south of England of Karl Jenkins’ acclaimed work The Armed Man. In 2007 both choirs travelled to New York to join a performance of The Armed Man at Carnegie Hall, and in 2009 returned to join a performance of Karl Jenkins’ new work, Stabat Mater.
BCS performs three major concerts a year, two with full orchestra and soloists, and one a lighter summer concert. Most concerts are at the Billingshurst Leisure Centre, but we also perform every other year at Chichester Cathedral, and are now pleased to be regular contributors at the Brandenburg Spring Choral Festival in London. Our popular Christmas concerts usually take place in St. Mary’s Church, Billingshurst.
We travel on concert tours every two years, which widens our experience but also proves a popular social opportunity for members of the choir. In the past we have travelled to Dublin, Belgium, the Loire Valley, Caen, Paris, Prague, Tuscany and Vienna.
Into the future
In 2015, after 29 years of building and developing BCS, our popular Musical Director George Jones retired, and we were pleased to appoint Cathal Garvey as our new Musical Director. Cathal continues to develop the choir from the strong tradition built by George Jones and his first year with us has attracted critical acclaim. We have also appointed a new accompanist for our rehearsals, Helen Wharmby. We look forward to further developing our choral skills, and performing highly enjoyable concerts to wide audiences in the south east and beyond.