Notes for New Members

Welcome to Harleston Choral Society

Welcome! We are delighted that you have come along to our choir practice today. We do hope that you will enjoy singing with us and that you will become a permanent member.


Harleston Choral Society was founded in 2000 by Anne Gee, an experienced singing teacher and pioneer in developing amateur choirs. She especially believed in encouraging people who were unaware that they could actually sing! Anne quickly introduced members to a varied and demanding repertoire. We are fortunate to have her son, Nathaniel, who sometimes sings with us, as our patron.

From 2004 – 2017, our Musical Director was Chris Bracewell. Chris was a very experienced choral conductor and inspired the choir to new heights. Recent concerts under Chris’s baton included Brahms’ Requiem and Bach’s St John Passion.

We are delighted that, since January 2018, our Musical Director is Janette Ruocco. Janette has a wealth of experience with choral societies, chamber choirs and vocal ensembles. She is also a choral trainer and workshop leader. We have had two very successful years with Janette, performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle,  Part 1 of the Messiah, Telemann’s German Magnificat, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, The First Nowell by Vaughan Williams and Chilcott’s The Twelve Days of Christmas.

We are very fortunate to have Karen Smith as our regular accompanist at our practices. Karen is a professional musician who has also worked with Eye Bach Choir.


We meet on Monday evenings during school term time from 7.30 pm till 9.30 pm in the London Road Church, Harleston. We perform our concerts in St John’s Church, Harleston. There is a short break for refreshments at approximately 8.30 pm. For new members, the first three practice sessions are free. If you then wish to continue singing with us, a termly fee is due, currently £40.00 per term, (there are some concessions). 

There are no auditions for our friendly community choir and we welcome everyone. Although it’s an advantage to be able to read music, it’s not essential.  Music is provided free and – if available – we provide practice CDs for each voice part: soprano, alto, tenor and bass.  The first CDs are free to new members and thereafter there is a small charge. More experienced members are always happy to help and support with musical challenges and sometimes small groups meet in between scheduled practices.

Choir practices can often involve hard work, but the emphasis is on relaxation and enjoyment. Regular attendance is important and, to get full advantage, it is advisable to practise with the CDs at home during the week. It is useful to bring water, a pencil and reading glasses to practices!


We perform two evening concerts a year: a Christmas Concert, which normally includes a substantial choral work and sometimes includes Christmas Carols, some with audience participation; and a Summer Concert in June, when we usually perform a longer choral work. For most concerts we also have professional soloists and orchestra.

There are rehearsals on the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon before a concert in St John’s Church. Concert dress is black tie for gentlemen and black for ladies. 

In 2020, we will be performing Feel the spirit by John Rutter, Chilcott’s Songs and Cries and Songs and Sonnets by George Shearing on Saturday 27 June. Our Christmas concert on Saturday 12 December has a Baroque theme and will include the Credo and Gloria by Vivaldi and the Chorale from Wachet Auf by Bach, plus carols for choir and audience and Corelli’s Christmas Concerto for string orchestra.


At each practice, you can pick a “Bonus Ball” for £1. This is based on the Lottery Bonus Ball. If you are a winner, you will receive 50% of the kitty and the other 50% goes to choir funds.

We have a quiz evening, this year on 21 March, which is great fun and delicious food is prepared by the committee. 

We also hold a raffle at each concert.


We have a committee of up to 12 choir members who are elected during our September AGM. The committee meets regularly to help with running the choir and organising our concerts. Many other members take on further important and essential tasks throughout the season.

Further information

If you would like any further information, please contact our Chair, Stella Brownsea, or our Membership Secretary, Joanna Barfield, either during a practice session or as below:

Stella Brownsea 01379 854720

Joanna Barfield 01986 872791