January 2024 will mark a major milestone for Ipswich Choral Society, reaching 200 years since the formation of the society. A great achievement that everyone in Ipswich should be proud of. Members still enjoy performing a variety of choral music in the friendly company of like-minded singers, and rehearsals are still on Tuesday evening, same as in 1824!
To put this in context, 200 years ago, George IV was on the throne, Beethoven and Schubert were still alive, transport mainly by horse drawn coach (the world’s first public railway using steam locomotives, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, was opened in 1825) and the rules of football hadn’t been drawn up. Ipswich Town was formed as an amateur club in 1878.
Thanks to a National Lottery Heritage grant a few years ago, Ipswich Choral Society was able to research the history of the choir. Searching archives, a rather special, hand-written book of scores, with the inscription “Ipswich Choral Society, Alto 1824” was uncovered. The hand-written music was excerpts from Haydn’s ‘The Creation’ which was then performed in public by the newly formed society the following year.
The research undertaken has enabled Ipswich Choral Society to discover details of past concert performances which has thrown up some interesting discoveries.
The earliest surviving concert programme found dates back to 1829. Ipswich Choral Society have performed with world famous soloists such as Robert Tear, Janet Baker, Kathleen Ferrier, Owen Brannigan, Michael Maybrick, Frank Titterton, Isobel Baillie, Felicity Palmer, and Lesley Garrett. Benjamin Britten was President of the Society from 1948 to 1958. All the research was published in a book “Notes in Time” describing the formation of the Society and its impact on the Ipswich arts scene.
Ipswich Choral Society will be performing Haydn’s ‘The Creation’ at Snape Maltings on 20th April 2024 as part of the bicentenary celebrations. The 200th anniversary season will be launched on 9th December 2023 with the return of Ipswich Choral Society’s Christmas Spectacular. For details of the anniversary events, please visit our events page.
Ipswich Choral Society will be back rehearsing from 5th September at Northgate Arts Centre. New members are always welcome, as well as improving your singing, joining a choir is a great way to make new friends. And for Ipswich Choral Society, making memories for future members to look back on in another 200 years’ time!