The East Sussex Bach Choir is mainly based in Lewes, the ancient county town of East Sussex. Lewes is a hive of cultural activity and the ESBC is part of this cultural landscape, contributing through the engagement and commitment of its singers and by giving audiences the opportunity to hear both well-known works and some less well-known works that may deserve to be better known.
The choir was formed in 1986 and since then has performed well over 100 concerts in Lewes, Brighton and East Sussex and occasionally further afield. We perform with leading professional soloists and are regularly accompanied by The Baroque Collective, led by Alison Bury, an ensemble of period instrument players who provide an incomparable part of our performances.
The choir’s aim is to perform a varied repertoire to a very high standard, and professional soloists and orchestral players bring experience and excellence to our performances. The ESBC usually follows the practice of ‘historically informed performance’, getting as close as possible to the composer’s original intention. While the choir’s repertoire certainly includes the works of JS Bach, it is by no means limited to these. The list of recent concerts listed in the archive gives an idea of the kind of music we like to perform.
We firmly believe that reward and effort go hand in hand. This is never truer than in choral singing. Our standards and expectations in this respect are high and we aim continually to develop and improve our singing talent. But above all, we aim to have fun and to bring the joy of choral music to our own lives and to those of our community.
Music Director - John Hancorn
John Hancorn is music director of the BREMF Singers, Baroque Collective Singers, East Sussex Bach Choir and Eastbourne Choral Society and co-director of The Baroque Collective and the Lewes Baroquefest. Performances for the Brighton Early Music Festival include Bach’s St John Passion and B Minor Mass, Monteverdi Vespers, Handel Semele and a staged performance of Purcell The Fairy Queen.
John leads vocal workshops and masterclasses specializing in baroque repertoire including regular visits to Early Music Fora and ‘Sing and Discover’ days and online workshops with Richard Wigmore throughout the UK. He is Associate Lecturer in Choral Studies at the University of Chichester Conservatoire, and is a specialist examiner for Trinity Laban. He directed chamber choir courses at Dartington for many years and was a tutor at AIMS Summer School.
John directed the Orlando Consort in Tarik O'Regan Scattered Rhymes; the world premiere of Orlando Gough's opera The Finnish Prisoner with singers from the Finnish Opera; a critically acclaimed professional recording of Ed Hughes's Buried Flame and Purcell’s King Arthur for New Sussex Opera. He was Artistic Advisor for a large scale concert at Glyndebourne for Homelink in November 2019.
Accompanist - Claire Williams
Our accompanist is Claire Williams, harpsichordist and continuo player. Claire frequently performs with a wide range of ensembles in the UK and abroad, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Baroque Collective, and the 12 ensemble.
She is a member of Musica Secreta, Flautotonic, Saltarello Ensemble, and Baroque Encounter.
The choir performs three or four major concerts each year, usually in the Assembly Room in the Town Hall in Lewes. We also, occasionally, collaborate with other choirs including Kantorei Hochrhein from Waldshut, Lewes's Twin Town in Germany.
We do not rehearse every week but have 6 to 8 rehearsals before each concert. These are usually held on Saturday afternoons in St Anne's Church in Lewes. Rehearsals are friendly, as well as being instructive and the tea-breaks often feature home-made cake.
Sing and Discover workshops usually take place at the beginning of a new rehearsal schedule for a forthcoming season of concerts. Workshops usually take place on a Saturday morning and afternoon. Richard Wigmore (wigmoresworld.co.uk) is often invited to provide a superb narrative on these occasions to enhance the experience.
Workshops are a great opportunity for prospective members to familiarise themselves with the choir and the music that we sing. Workshops are usually OPEN to the public although there may be a small fee payable.