Silver celebration for East Sussex Community Choir

Voices will ring out in harmony this summer as a community choir celebrates a landmark anniversary.

East Sussex Community Choir has helped hundreds of people indulge their love of singing and performed at venues around the UK and Europe since it was formed in the summer of 1988.

To mark its silver jubilee, the choir, part of East Sussex County Council’s music service, will perform Haydn’s Creation, featuring a full orchestra and professional soloists, and host a celebratory lunch.

Conductor Nick Houghton, who is head of music at the East Sussex Academy of Music, in Lewes, said: “Ours is a very welcoming choir and includes people from all walks of life and levels of experience.

“As well as being stimulating musically, singing as part of a choir is a nice social activity, and is also good for you as it gets the endorphins flowing and makes you feel good.

“It’s a great moment for the choir to have been running for so long and to be in such healthy shape. Our numbers have gone up in recent years and we’re looking good for the next 25 years.”

Mary Benjamin, from Lewes, is one of the choir’s longest serving members, having joined the fledgling group in its early days under charismatic founder conductor Roger Durston, then head of the county music service.

She said: “One of the good things about the choir is that you don’t have to go through an audition – you can just come along and sing.

“You don’t have to be a top singer to take part – we have experienced and inexperienced members alike, including people of all ages and abilities, and we all help each other.

“The choir has been a fixed point in my life for the last 25 years and there’s a real feelgood factor to it. There’s nothing better than getting together and singing with a group of friends.”

At 30, mother-of-two Sarah Von Reibech is one of the youngest members of the choir, having joined two years ago.

She said: “I just love singing, and this choir is so friendly and welcoming. As a member, you work hard without feeling like you’re working hard. It’s very rewarding.

“I love singing and it’s a very nice feeling at the end of weeks and months of hard work, to get that adrenaline rush when you perform, and to know you’ve given someone a good evening.”

The choir, which rehearses on Monday evenings at Sussex Downs College, in Lewes, boasts around 100 members drawn from across East Sussex and beyond.

The group stages three concerts a year, including its well-attended annual ‘Christmas Cracker’, and acts as ambassadors for the county music service on its overseas tours, which in recent years have included trips to the northern French towns of Chartres, Honfleur and Dieppe.

The choir will perform Haydn’s Creation at Lewes Town Hall on Saturday 29 June 2013 at 7.30pm, featuring soprano Lucinda Houghton, tenor Paul Austin Kelly and bass Stephen Charlesworth.

Tickets, priced £12 and £6 for students and under 16s, are available from East Sussex Music Service on 01273 336770 or Lewes Tourist Information Centre on 01273 483448

Meanwhile, on Sunday 7 July 2013 a summer celebration lunch attended by past and present members of the choir will be held at Southover Grange, in Lewes, while from June 14 to 21 a window display about the choir will be held at Lewes Tourist Information Centre, in High Street.

Anyone who is interested in joining the choir can obtain more information by calling 01273 336770 or online at

Further information


01 – Members of East Sussex Community Choir at one of their Monday rehearsals, conducted by Nick Houghton
02 – Nick Houghton
03 – Mary Benjamin (centre), one of the choir’s longest serving members