The Deal and Walmer Handelian Choral Society is a choir of all ages and voices; what brings us together is an enjoyment of singing sacred and secular music from a range of composers, classical and modern. We aim to perform three times a year and choir rehearsals are focused on these performances. There is no audition, you will almost certainly be sitting beside people with more and less experience than you and we are led by a vastly experienced conductor and a wonderful accompanist.
Not sure? Come along to a rehearsal and just join in. Make it easier on yourself - bring a friend!
The choir meets weekly from 7.30 pm until 9pm on Monday evenings at the Community Church, Victoria Road, Deal CT14 7BJ (formerly the Victoria Road Baptist Church).
Whether you're returning after a break from a choir or starting out in music, you're very welcome to pop along and join in.
The Deal and Walmer Handelian Society was established in 1946 by three co-founders: Dr James S Hall, the well-known Handelian scholar and Lifeboat surgeon, his wife Cynthia, and Ernest Stride who was Keyboard Professor at the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal.
Whilst the original object of the Society was to perform Handel’s works, its repertoire has expanded over the years to include the works of other composers. The Society has undertaken several trips abroad during its history, notably to Handel’s birthplace, Halle, for the 1959 bicentenary celebrations of Handel’s death. That occasion also included a memorable trip to Leipzig, in what was then the East German Republic, where Ernest Stride played J.S.Bach’s organ in the Thomaskirche. 1970 saw the Society’s visit to Amsterdam to perform Israel in Egypt with the Dutch Handel Society, and in the 1980s several visits were made both to St Omer and Vlissingen, Deal’s two twin towns across the Channel.
During the 1960s the Society established a close relationship with the Royal Marines, and was conducted on a number of occasions by their various Principal Directors of Music, with the musicians of the Marines’ School of Music making up the orchestra. This connection enabled the choir to tackle many works that would normally have been out of their reach, such as the Verdi Requiem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius and Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony. The sad departure of the Royal Marines from Deal in 1996 bought an end to this association.
The many distinguished soloists that have appeared with the Society over the years have included soprano Heather Harper, and pioneer counter-tenor Alfred Deller.
Dr James Hall conducted the choir from its inception to his death in 1974, followed by Dr John Pond, who sadly retired due to ill health, but remained as Chairman until his death. In 2003 Peter Litman joined the Society as Conductor and was later succeeded by Robert Tapsfield who had been rehearsal pianist since 2005. Robert reverted to that role when Stefan Catto became conductor in 2015.
Several works from the standard choral repertoire have been performed under both conductors, notably Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Haydn’s The Creation and, a different departure, a St Cecilia’s Day Concert with both Purcell’s and Handel’s Odes to music’s patron saint. A more recent notable landmark was a performance of Messiah in conjunction with Sandwich Choral Society under the baton of renowned choral conductor Sir David Willcocks, at that time nearly 90.
The Society is affiliated to the Choral Society's umbrella body 'Making Music'.
Personal note from the author of this site.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of items on the Handelians site that brought back many good memories of my youth. First was the picture of Sir Gerald Woods Wollaston, 1874-1957 - Knight Garter King Of Arms, (top right) of whom I knew his Daughter Althea (Who in fact was my first landlady) where I spent some 10 years living in his fabulous house in Walmer, and secondly a newspaper cutting from 1970 of the society performing in the, sadly no longer, Royal Marines Concert Hall as a (very) young musician. Click the Image below to spot me.
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