The Suffolk Chronicle dated 24th January 1824 announced that a Musical Society was to be formed and a concert to be held at the end of March 1824.  That Musical Society was Ipswich Choral Society and started out with around 20 singers. The newly formed society met on Tuesdays once a fortnight to rehearse for their first concert, and Ipswich Choral Society still meets on a Tuesday, although rehearsals are now weekly.

Singing in a choral society was a popular pastime in the late 19th Century. By 1885 there were 264 members of Ipswich Choral Society made up of 94 sopranos, 65 altos, 40 tenors and 65 basses. Today Ipswich Choral Society has around 90 members, and always happy to welcome new members.

On 23rd January 2024, Ipswich Choral Society celebrated the anniversary of it’s formation 200 years ago during an extended rehearsal break. The cake was absolutely delicious and totally demolished!!  We sang even better after the break and now can’t wait to perform The Creation at Snape Maltings with Halifax Choral Society and the Britten Sinfonia to celebrate in style.

Photo1 of ICS rehearsal on 23 January 2024Photo2 of ICS rehearsal on 23 January 2024Photo3 of ICS rehearsal on 23 January 2024



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!

Friends of ICS are hosting a Quiz Supper evening to raise money for Ipswich Choral Society’s 200th anniversary events. You are invited to gather a team of 6 people or we can assemble scratch teams if you prefer to come on your own – a good way to meet new people! Compere will be ICS Chair, Phil Powditch. There will be rounds to suit everyone, including young people – visual and tactile skills may be as handy as general knowledge.  There will be a cash bar and a raffle, plus prizes for the winning quiz team of course.
Saturday 18th March, 7pm at Grundisburgh Village Hall
£12 per person, max 6 people in a team
Entry fee includes supper
There will be a cash bar and a raffle
Parking is available
To book, call 01473 258943
Scratch teams can be assembled, let us know when booking


Quiz flyer image

We have received some sad news that our dear friend June Catling has passed away.  June was a familiar face at ICS rehearsals and concerts where she had been providing refreshments for us and our audiences since the mid-eighties.

Her enthusiastic fundraising, with events such as Coffee Mornings, Christmas Fayres and various cake sales, helped the choir beyond measure and allowed us all to enjoy our hobby, creating memories for that we will forever cherish.

We send our sincere condolences to all of her family and friends.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was a privilege to sing the music at our June concert to mark her Platinum Jubilee, that her Majesty would have enjoyed hearing throughout her reign.

Our thoughts are with the Royal Family at this difficult time.

Dig out your music folder, sharpen your pencils and grab some throat lozenges, it’s back to choir after the summer break!

Ipswich Choral rehearsals start up Tues 6 September, 7.30pm at Northgate Arts Centre in Ipswich. This term we’re working on requiem masses by John Rutter and Gabriel Fauré, to be performed at St. Mary-le-Tower on Saturday 12 November.

Please come along if you would like to sing with us! For more information, email our recruitment officer Kate Dixon who will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

Looking for something challenging? Fancy coming back to singing after a break?

Whether you are wanting to meet new people, dusting down your singing skills or looking to try something exciting and challenging, you’ll receive a warm welcome from Ipswich Choral Society.

Come along to an open rehearsal to see for yourself with no pressure to join. Our voice section reps will be on hand to help with any queries you may have. The open rehearsals will be held on Tuesday 21st and Tuesday 28th June 2022, 7.30pm, at Northgate Arts Centre, Sidegate Lane West, Ipswich IP4 3DF.

For more information or to join the choir when we start back at rehearsals from 6th September 2022, please email

Ipswich Choral Society and Music Director Robin Walker make their debut at Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh with a performance of Bach’s St John Passion on 9th April.

Bach’s dramatic setting of the Passion of Christ was first performed in Leipzig on Good Friday, 7 April 1724. The work is a compilation of biblical passages from St. John’s Gospel, arias based on contemplative texts and chorales using traditional Lutheran words and melodies

Ipswich Choral Society will be singing the St John Passion in German at Baroque pitch, accompanied by period instrument chamber orchestra Vivace! with Hazel Brooks as leader. For their Blythburgh debut, Ipswich Choral Society are also delighted to be joined by soloists well-known to local audiences, soprano Gwen Martin, mezzo-soprano Diana Moore, tenor Jonathan Hanley and baritone Christopher Borrett.

In the iconic setting of Holy Trinity Church, a building renowned for its fine acoustic, this will truly be a night to remember!

Ipswich Choral Society presents
Bach St John Passion
Saturday 9 April 2022, 7.00pm
Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, Halesworth IP19 9LL
Tickets £17 available online or via the ICS Ticket Line 07597 052572.

Bach St John Passion poster

Finally, after 18 months of meeting on Zoom, ICS will be meeting indoors to sing together again. September 7th marks the first rehearsal of our autumn term when we will start work on the Mass No 2 in E Minor by Anton Bruckner for a concert performance of the work on Saturday 4th December 2021 at 7:30pm at Ipswich School, where we will be accompanied by the Puffin Wind Ensemble.

There has been a huge amount of work carried out by the committee, Robin our musical director and a large dose of enthusiasm from the members during the period we could only wave at each other on our computer screens or tablets, these past few weeks we have been setting things up to make sure we keep everyone as safe as possible when we meet and sing.

We are all raring to go and are very much looking forward to welcoming our loyal supporters at our first concert for two years.

Phil Powditch
Chair ICS

With the gradual easing of Covid lockdown restrictions, the hope is that Ipswich Choral Society will be able to resume in-person rehearsals soon. From 17 May, choirs will be able meet indoors in Covid-secure venues once a risk assessment has been undertaken to ensure social distancing measures are in place.

The ICS committee is working hard to ensure all the necessary paperwork and processes are in place to enable in-person rehearsals to happen. ICS members will be provided with all relevant information beforehand.

The ICS 2021 AGM will be held on 11th May via Zoom again as that worked well last year. Details have been emailed out to choir members already.

Looking further ahead, the committee have also been busy working on the event programme. With lockdown measures still in place, it is with regret that the Verdi Requiem concert in June has had to be cancelled. Performing at the Royal Hospital School is always a pleasure and hopefully ICS will be able to return back there in the near future.

The events page has been updated with the latest details on our future concerts. The choir is looking forward to the autumn concert with the Puffin Ensemble and performing Bruckner’s Mass in E minor. Make a note in your diary for 4th December and we hope to see you at Ipswich School.