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ECS Members' Notice Board

This page shows information on the music to be performed at the next and subsequent concerts and choir news past, present and future.

You can discover how to contact, and who are, your section representatives and members of the ECS committee on the Reps & Officers' page

You can find the ECS diary showing the programme of rehearsals and events scheduled for this term and, as far as is planned in the future in the Members' Diary

A group of Eltham Choral Society     
sopranos during a sectional rehearsal

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ELTHAM CHORAL SOCIETY 2020/21 Music Notes for Proposed Concerts

....... Upcoming concerts with known programming giving details on works, scores, rehearsal files etc....

Provisional Programme for the 2020/2021 Season (Subject to Government positioning on the coronavirus pandemic)

Saturday 10 October 2020 – Come and Sing Day.

The programme is under discussion, but maybe Bob Chilcott’s Aesop’s Fables, which ECS commissioned and premiered in 2008. (Location – Eltham Park Methodist Church)

Saturday 12 December 2020

Charpentier work and carols for choir and audience (Location to be confirmed)

Saturday 13 March 2021

St John Passion at Blackheath Halls

Saturday 10 July 2021

Haydn – The Seasons (Location to be confirmed)

Whilst the Choir is in temporary suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic we are using Music Notes to bring you news of some of the more important behind-the-scenes happenings.

Item 8 - 30/6/20: An extended vocal ‘workout’ “Half-Six Vocal-Fix” From Max

“Dear Friends (including from Eltham Choral Society, West Barnes Singers, Wimbledon Oldies Choir and others!) I hope there is fun and joy in your lives currently, and you are feeling neither bored nor trapped at home.

I have made the odd hymn recording during Lockdown for St Mary’s, but last week, when singing a longer piece, found myself floundering with long phrases – I just didn’t have the required breath control to get through them. It reminded me that we have to be proactive in order to remain in good 'vocal shape', and it would be sensible to challenge ourselves during Lockdown to do this.

“Half-Six Vocal-Fix”: for my own benefit, and as some choir terms draw to a close, I thought now might be a good time to experiment with a singing session over Zoom, at 6:30pm on Fridays, for anyone keen to keep 'in shape' vocally.

The plan will be 30-40 minutes' music, followed by a chance to chat to friends from a choir you are in - Eltham Choral Society, West Barnes Singers, Wimbledon Oldies Choir (or any others you tell me) – perhaps over a pre-prandial glass of sherry! I will organise the social aspect by grouping you (using Zoom’s Breakout Room function) with the people you want to talk to (people in your choir, or specific friends if you tell me) enabling you to be in small enough groups so as to get a word in edgeways.

The singing will include:

An extended vocal ‘workout’ – a sort of mini singing lesson – encompassing, among other things, breathing exercises, work on vocal resonance – how do we make our voice richer / brighter – and vocal agility – how can we get better at singing faster notes (for the keen choral singers among you, those impossibly difficult runs in Zadok the Priest or For unto us a child is born!)
· A familiar, comforting hymn, accompanied by me
· A well-known, uplifting song, e.g. from a musical, accompanied by a recording
· A guest performance from a delightful young musician

In future weeks, another element to the sessions could be to work on a well-loved choral work, like Mozart’s Requiem, or Handel’s Messiah – I would say a few words about a given movement – and afterwards you could choose whether to sing along or simply listen. Do let me know if this element would appeal or turn you away!

Do I have to pay for this, or is a poor, humble musician doing this out of the goodness of his heart, you ask?! A bit of both! The answer is that if it gets off the ground, I may operate a voluntary donation scheme.

Some of you may be tired of Zoom, or tired of virtual singing – in which case, spare yourselves! if not, I'd love you to join me, and to invite your friends. All you have to do is log into the Zoom meeting, details of which I'll send in due course.

YOUR REPLY: please e-mail MAX if you would like to take part, a short message saying ‘yes, please’ would be great, and an indication of whether you’d like to work on a popular choral work. You can of course come on your own, just for the singing. Whatever the case, I would then keep you on the mailing list, sending Zoom details, music/words of hymns/songs etc. Of course, you wouldn’t need to join every week.

If you're keen to sing, but are frightened by Zoom, let me know this too - it would be good to hear from you.
Hugely looking forward to keeping the vocal cobwebs at bay, and to joyful singing!


Item 7 - 30/6/20: Lockdown choral music from the Eltham Virtual Choir By our own Thomas Bridges with help from Jo Marshman

If you can't get your 4(or more)-part choir together, see how Tom does it!!

by Thomas Tallis. A 36-track recording of one person layered with reverb for a virtual performance!

by Pierre Passereau. A 12-track one-person recording of Pierre Passereau's famous "Il est bel et bon", a song in which two women discuss how wonderful their husbands are...!

from J. S. Bach's cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben

Item 6 - 24/4/20: I've created a list of (mostly shortish) pieces which were inspired by or evoke, the season of Spring. Included in the first one is an Easter greeting for the choir from Andrew. Max

1) Country Gardens (arr. Percy Grainger) - Andrew/Max – here is one we made early, with a greeting from Andrew!

2) Easter - Vaughan Williams with choir - the imperious Thomas Allen singing the words of the metaphysical poet, George Herbert, at the Proms in 2004, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

3) Spring Sonata - Beethoven: the 1st movement (particularly) of this work is full of freshness and optimism

4) Et Resurrexit from B Minor Mass - Bach - here is Bach's unbeatable trumpet-writing, the kind we heard in Eltham during excerpts of the Christmas Oratorio in December 2019

5) Frühlingstraum - Schubert: half way through Schubert's Winterreise, this song provides a glimmer of hope to the protagonist who, trudging through the snowy landscape, dreams of flowers and meadows, only to be woken up to the sound of cock crowing - the dream of spring is bittersweet - perhaps we can all relate to that currently.
For the first 4.5 minutes of this video, you hear Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten performing the music in a very heartfelt way, and the two converse about Schubert's cycle more generally

6) Lay a Garland – Pearsall: a rather amazing performance of this beautiful madrigal, written for eight voice parts, but in this recording, all eight parts sung by just one singer:

7) “Allegro animato e grazioso” from Robert Schumann’s “Spring” Symphony: an outpouring of the joy of Spring from this troubled soul:

8) It was a lover and his lass - Finzi. Life doesn't seem too bad when you hear this! The piano part gives a spring (as it were) in one's step:

9) Veronika, der Lenz ist da ("Veronica, spring is here") - Comedian Harmonists: this wonderful close-harmony group of (Jewish) Germans were popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I wonder if you know them. This is a jolly and catchy spring song:

Veronica, Spring is here,
The girls sing tralala.
The whole world is as bewitched,
Veronika, the asparagus grows!
Veronika, the world is green,
Let us go into the woods.
Even the Grandpapa says to Grandma:
"Veronica, Spring is here,
Veronica, Veronica, Spring is here! "

10) A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square - Vera Lynn

17/4/20: Item 5 - Searching for some free entertainment to help pass the time on a self-isolation evening

Bachtrack has brought together an impressive library of over 1,000 "streamed" and "on demand" events that you can watch online. During the coming weeks, they will endeavour to maintain this service with the latest offerings from opera houses, orchestras and venues worldwide. Do keep checking the website to explore new content as it becomes available.

Thanks to Pat for bringing it to our attention - Happy Viewing

Item 4 - Easter Monday, 13/4/20: Happy Easter to ECS from Wimbledon!

From Max: This is my and Andrew’s church choir, and the video was made skilfully by Anna Lush (my occasional stand-in)

Item 3 - 2/4/20: The next instalment of The Self-Isolation Sing-Along St John Passion From Max

I have prepared a “Self-Isolation Sing-Along St John Passion”, which I’d love you to watch, sing along to, and share with others. The recording is of me playing and singing the chorales, choruses and recitatives, but with the sheet music and words on the screen for you to sing along to. You may find it fun (even sopranos) trying to sing one of the lower parts of harmony with the tune that I am singing – you might even get a sort of visceral ‘close-harmony’ feeling

.....and some feedback!

Hi, I didn’t want all my hard work rehearsing for St John Passion to go to waste. I put on a short concert for my husband on Saturday evening. With the help of Max’s sing along video I performed the 4 chorales. He was a very appreciative audience.
Heather (Tenor)

Item 2 - 29/3/20: Opportunity to sing The Messiah at Home

There is now a Self Isolation Choir website where on 30th March you can register to take part in MESSIAH FROM HOME
Register now and build up, through regular rehearsals to a concert of the full work on Sunday 31st May 2020
Rehearsals start on YouTube at 19:30 BST on Tuesday 31st March for the full choir but you can easily catch up if you miss it.
More information and a registration link can be found at

Item 1 - 26/3/20: Here is a message from Max…..


I have done a “Hello ECS” and “Sing-along-Bach-chorales” video for the choir, so you have something to do with your free evening!

You will need to view the video full screen if you wish to get the best from it and be able to read the supplied score. In most cases, track along the bottom row of the YouTube panel to the right hand side. There is a broken square box; just click it. To get back, do the reverse. Please do send Max your feedback and any ideas on further projects to help ECS members through this difficult time and to remain in touch with each other.

Looking forward to Andrew being in the next one!



ECS News

....... Latest News for members of ECS ....

A. Eltham Choral Society Concert Tour to Prague 21st-24th May 2020

We are sorry that this event is cancelled due to coronavirus concerns

Newsletter No.8 gives cancellation and refund details

Eltham Choral Society's Concert Tour for 2020 will be in the city of Prague from Thursday 21st May to Sunday 24th May 2020 and we are hoping for as many as possible, including partners/friends to travel with us..............

Accommodation will be at the ADEBA hotel in Central Prague where we will stay on a B&B basis with two sharing a room.

Two venues for concerts will be arranged, one of which will be in Central Prague.

Click on the link below for the latest newsletter with further detail plus a response form to complete and return to a member of the tour committee


B. Eltham Choral Society Concert at Holy Trinity Church - Saturday 30th March 2018

Here are a few thoughts from Max on the Easter Concert .............

Thank you all for last night. I thought the Insanae and the Mozart Missa Brevis were particularly splendid - the Mozart bright, lively, beautiful with good dynamic contrast. Perhaps we could have spent a little more time on the Ave Verum and the Benedictus transitions (especially the Haydn!) so I will learn from that. The string players and soloists enjoyed it very much - thank you for being so encouraging to them with words of praise - this is really meaningful to them, as they do their best to make their way in a competitive industry.

Thank you for the lovely card and for TWO renditions of Happy Birthday!

Meanwhile, I hope you have a lovely Easter, and am looking forward to working on secular choral music - Folk Songs from across the British Isles - in the summer term. This should not be construed as a pro-Brexit programme!


C. Eltham Choral Society Concert Tour 2018

The tenth Eltham Choral Society concert tour to Lisbon took place from Tuesday 29th May to Friday 1st June 2018

It was a very successful and enjoyable tour with concerts at Sao Vincente de Fora, Lisbon (30th at 7pm) and Basílica dos Mártires, Lisbon (31st at 4pm)

An excursion was arranged to the Unesco World Heritage sites of the Belém Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries and the Jeronimos Monastery and many of us visited the the hilltop fortifications of Castelo de São Jorge with its spectacular views across Lisbon.

You can find a few pictures of the event in our picture gallery

D. Eltham Choral Society Concert at Southwark Cathedral - Saturday 17th March 2018

Those that braved the weather on Saturday had a most enjoyable afternoon and evening of music. Max had the following thoughts…..

Thank you all for your superb contribution to Saturday’s concert. In the afternoon you were highly engaged and alert, allowing a potentially tricky rehearsal to proceed very smoothly. The sound was even better in performance, with exquisitely beautiful singing in the Agnus Dei, impressive ensemble in the Sanctus (and the Libera recitation) great emotion and drama in the Dies Irae, and all along exceptionally committed singing. Alongside an excellent orchestra and stellar soloists, many people felt the choir stole the show. I wish you could all have heard it from where I was - I think you would have been amazed!.


You can find a few pictures of the event in our picture gallery


Past Concert reviews

....... What the Press had to say about some of our past concerts ....

Eltham Choral Society Reviews


Review from the SEnine Click for Full Report


Review from the The Kentish Times, July 6th 2001

Choral society works wonders.

Amateur and professional community-based choirs around the country add a great deal to our cultural and social heritage. But for many the problem of finding enough singers to maintain an acceptable balance between the male and female voices is a constant battle. I could only wonder how Eltham Choral Society still manages to perform demanding works with such professionalism and beautifully rich sounds and harmonies when I heard its recent concert at Holy Trinity Church.

For 25 years the choir was conducted by Miriam Coe and her influence was remarkable. Now a new conductor has been appointed: Nicholas Jenkins has an excellent musical pedigree and is a fluent, expressive conductor.

The main work of the evening was Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a theatrical, musically inventive, and a darkly passionate musical evocation of 13th Century secular poems. Untouched by religious overtones, they can be simply described as a celebration of ribald encounters with wine, women and song. Very difficult to conduct and sing, this was an outstanding performance. Disciplined throughout, the choir handled the work with passion and great drama. The conductor kept supreme control, the percussion excelled and the soloists, Rebecca Bottone (soprano), Mark Milhofer (tenor) and Mark Chaundy (baritone) sang with great professionalism. Mark Milhofer's handling of the strange mixture of tenor and alto pitches in his own very short solo section was a triumph of expressive creativity.The musical accompaniment was provided by pianists Tony Baldwin and David Battersby and a five-strong percussion section.

The concert opened with Bach's popular Brandenburg Concerto No.2. Without any real reflection on the pianists, the arrangement made a travesty of the work. However, the piano accompaniment for two of Verdi's choral works was excellent and the choir particularly excelled in the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco.

Roy Atterbury


Review from the Kentish Times, 9th November 2000

A concert in the Chapel of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich attracted a near capacity audience for what was very much a celebration of local culture.

The Eltham Choral Society was joined by the Ascension Choir from Blackheath, the children's choir from St Ursula's Convent School in Greenwich and the Kidbrooke School's Choirs in a performance of Michael Tippett's oratorio A Child of Our Time. The orchestra was the Music Sinfonia of Trinity College, an institution shortly to take up residence at the Royal Naval College

While Tippett's work has sometimes been criticised for Socialist overtones, it remains a most powerful musical denouncement of racial intolerance. The negro spirituals used in the piece to underscore the torment of oppressed races are not only a highly moving element of the oratorio, they are an acknowledgement by the composer that nothing he could compose would match the simplicity and beauty of their melodies and words.

Under their conductor, Miriam Coe, (musical director of the Eltham Choral Society), the choir gave a performance that fully captured the complex mixture of hatred, passion and disquiet that is inherent in the oratorio.

The soloists, Mary Seers, Patricia Williams and John Bowley and the impressive narrator, Brindley Sherratt, added further quality to the memorable occasion.

The concert opened with Andrew Morely conducting the two popular works by Aaron Copland. The Fanfare for the Common Man provided an ideal opportunity for the brass section of the Sinfonia to show off its skills to great effect while the orchestral ballet suite Appalachian Spring was played with warmth, colour and vitality.

The concert was supported by Greenwich Council and the New Millennium Experience Company as part of the Time to Celebrate events

Roy Atterbury


An Autumn concert visit to Felpham near Bognor was enjoyed by all who went. The following review appeared in the parish magazine:

Saturday 26th September was a damp, miserable day, but for those of us who attended the Eltham Choral Society concert in St. Mary's, the event was enough to wipe away the memories of those leaden skies.

The church provided a warm and inviting backdrop as the choir started their programme with the first half, a well balanced mixture of music and readings, old and modern, on an autumn theme. The music ranged from Handel, Mozart, Purcell and Vaughan-Williams to modern composers Maxwell-Davies, Jenkins and Taverner. The readings from Keats and Betjeman were well chosen and complemented the music perfectly.

The second half consisted of a hastily rehearsed recital of Faure's Requiem as the original programme included Vivaldi's Gloria which is due to be performed next month by our own choirs. Unphased by this, the Society showed their professionalism and talent by delivering a stunning performance of the piece that on its first hearing had been thought to be "too lively" for a requiem.

Shelagh Eastwood whose clarity and range filled the vaulted ceilings and lifted the spirits, performed the soprano solo, Pie Jesu. The organist, Tony Baldwin, showed us new heights with his accomplished playing, never masking the singing, only complementing it.

Miriam Coe, the musical director, joined the Society 23 years ago to escape the tribulations of 2-year-old toddlers. As she led us through the programme, her enthusiasm and vitality focused the eyes and ears of both choir and audience,

Comments following the performance were full of praise. Hopefully we will be able to arrange a return visit so those who missed this stunning evening can have a second chance to enjoy the Eltham Choral Society.

Robert Baker


Review from the The Kentish Times, April 9th 1998

Society May Have Hit the Ton

Last Saturday the Eltham Choral society's 90th Anniversary Concert at Holy Trinity Church was not quite the occasion I expected.

It was certainly the 90th anniversary of the Society's first performance of Haydn's the Creation which took place at the same church in Southend Crescent, on April 27, 1908. However, a subsequent review of the concert in the Times of the day made it clear the choir was already well established in the community. Indeed, an earlier report refers to the ECS performing at Eynsford in 1907. In the absence of any other historical records, therefore, this latest event could well have been a celebration of the choir's 100th anniversary which would have given the event greater importance. There is obviously no way of comparing the quality of the 1908 and 1998 ensembles but there is no doubt that the present choir is of an exceptional standard and, with almost 70 singers, it brought great passion and a supremely delicate lyricism to Haydn's work.


The musical director of the ECS is Miriam Coe who conducts without a baton but uses restrained yet commandingly delicate hand movements to coax some inspired reactions from both the choir and the orchestra. The rising phrase in the last section of the second part was an object lesson in choral discipline as well as purity of sound. The 35-strong orchestra was bolstered by a fine organist in Tony Baldwin who is also assistant musical director of the choir. He not only provided a further depth to the orchestral playing but never once allowed his potentially powerful instrument to conflict with the perfect balance that was maintained overall.

In Susan Hendrie (soprano), Alan Jolly (tenor) and Paul Keohane (bass baritone), the society had brought together singers with great expressive skills who blended perfectly in the duets and trios. I was fascinated by Alan Jolly's tenor voice that had a gentleness and expression which had an odd affinity to the pure alto - but clearly in effect rather than pitch.

Haydn's work is not only great choral music, it is also fascinating in the way it heralds a new area of music. Written when the composer was at his zenith at 61, there are times when the brilliance of Mozart and the romanticism of Brahms, Beethoven and others are reflected in an orchestral approach which then slips almost into a near chamber mode. Seventeenth and 18th century music all seem to come together and the interpretative skills brought to this fascinating range of contrasts by all concerned made the concert an event to remember.

Roy Atterbury


Other Choirs and Organisations

....... News of events and activities from other choirs and organisations of interest to members ....

Nothing currently to report. - Know of an upcoming event which might be of interest to ECS members? - contact with the details