About Southampton Choral Society


Our Honorary President


Lord Mayor's charity

The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Valerie Laurent, has chosen three charities to support in her mayoral year. Any monies raised will be given to the charities at the end of her term of office. All charities are local and very relevant for Southampton.

Saints Foundation

Saints Foundation logoSaints Foundation, the charity of Southampton Football Club, supports Southampton by delivering projects that respond to the ever-evolving needs of the people of the city. Connecting with communities using the power of the Saints badge, we help those who feel the impact of inequalities the most. We support people in need throughout Southampton, providing life-changing opportunities to help our city and its communities thrive.

We have five key focus areas:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Gender equality
  • Employability
  • Pathways

Our work is delivered in schools, community centres, parks, hospitals, care homes, leisure centres and at our home at St Mary’s Stadium.

Our vision is that Southampton is a city where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

About the Saints Foundation

Oasis Southampton City Farm

Oasis Southampton City Farm logoOasis Southampton City Farm has been at the heart of the local Southampton community for over 80 years providing a range of services to targeted groups as well as the wider local community. Our work includes targeted sessions for Learning Disability and Brain Injury clients, school and youth group visits, birthday parties and more. The farm also holds four extremely successful open days each year, and all activity is supported by a strong local volunteer team.

Vision and Values - Oasis Academy Lord's Hill

Southampton Sea Cadets

Sea Cadets logoOperating since 1942, Southampton Sea Cadets is a registered youth charity. The Unit is located on the banks of the River Itchen in Southampton, and its cadet members and staff (all volunteers) are drawn from the wider Southampton area. It is a thriving unit with 65 cadets and 26 adult volunteers, meeting twice per week and many weekends during the boating season.

At Sea Cadets, the young people aged 10 -17 enjoy adventures such as sailing, rowing, kayaking, first-aid training, piping and drill, and earn nationally recognised qualifications, sail offshore, and travel abroad. Young people become resilient and confident and have improved motivation and skills. They learn to become leaders, and Sea Cadets helps them to cope with today’s complex and often overwhelming world, and embed the values of loyalty, honesty and integrity, respect, commitment, and self-discipline in everything they do.

Adult volunteers have the opportunity to undergo training and gain recognised qualifications.

In 2022, the Unit won the area award for diversity, as it has a number of disabled cadets, is multi-cultural and tolerates no discrimination. It is a successful unit entering and achieving recognition in a number of national competitions. The unit actively supports community events, such as Remembrance Day, Merchant Navy Day and The Southampton Marathon. Southampton Sea Cadets is honoured to have been chosen as The Lord Mayor’s Charity for 2023.

What we do - Sea Cadets Southampton


Our Patron

Our Patron is the well-known conductor and broadcaster, Brian Kay.

Brian divides his working life between the broadcasting studio and the concert platform. His many presentations for BBC radio have included Brian Kay’s Sunday Morning, Brian Kay’s Light Programme, the weekly listeners’ request programme 3 for all and Choirworks – all on Radio 3 – on Radio 2 the popular programmes Melodies for You and Friday Night is Music Night, and for Radio 4, Comparing Notes and Music in Mind. His former BBC World Service programme Classics with Kay reached an audience of millions all over the world. Brian’s television presentations have included the competitions to find the Cardiff Singer of the World and the Choir of the Year, and for fifteen years, the New Year Day Concert from Vienna. He has twice won a Sony Award as Music Presenter of the Year, including the coveted Gold Award in 1996.

Brian Kay

On the concert platform, he presents and narrates concerts with many of the leading orchestras. His narrations include Peter and the Wolf, Tubby the Tuba, Babar the Elephant, The Snowman, The Musicians of Bremen, Walton’s Facade, Honegger’s King David and Bliss’s Morning Heroes.

Brian is Conductor and Musical Director of Vaughan Williams’s Leith Hill Musical Festival in Surrey, and of the Buford Singers, near to his home in the Cotswolds. He is also Principal Conductor of The Really Big Chorus, with which he regularly conducts massed voices in London’s Royal Albert Hall in works such as Verdi’s Requiem, Carmina Burana, The Armed Man and The Dream of Gerontius, the annual 4,000-voice Messiah, and in 2010 the world premiere of Karl Jenkins’ Gloria. Recent concerts have been in Salzburg, Prague, Venice, Dubrovnik, Madeira, Malta, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong and Cape Town, with a performance of Handel’s Messiah in China, in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall and an annual singing cruise to destinations in the Baltic, the Aegean, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Rhône, the Danube and the Nile.

He was, for ten years, Chorus Master of the Huddersfield Choral Society, and Conductor of the Cheltenham Bach Choir, the Bradford Festival Choral Society, the Cecilian Singers of Leicester, and the Kendal-based Mary Wakefield Westmorland Festival. He is frequently invited to conduct choirs and orchestras in many parts of the country and has directed choral courses at the summer schools of Dartington, Warwick, Ardingly and Eastbourne. Further afield, in New Zealand he has conducted the Orpheus Choir of Wellington and the Auckland Choral Society, and in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Choral Festival. He is a Vice-President of the Association of British Choral Directors and of the Royal School of Church Music.

Brian Kay has twice appeared at the Royal Variety Show – in 1978 as a member of the King’s Singers (he was a founder member, and as the bass voice in the group performed over 2000 concerts world-wide) and in 1987 conducting the Huddersfield Choral Society. He sang the voice of Papageno in the Hollywood movie Amadeus (his wife, the soprano Gillian Fisher sang Papagena). He has also been the lowest frog on a Paul McCartney single, one of the six wives to Harry Secombe’s Henry VIIIth, and a member of the backing group for Pink Floyd!


A Brief History of the Choir

Founded in 1943 by the late Ambrose Chalk, a well-known musician and conductor, Southampton Choral Society (formerly known as Southampton Choral Union) was initially an amalgamation of local Free Church choirs. Later attracting many other singers, it became a major part of the cultural life of the city and remains so to this day.

Derek Goodger became Musical Director in 1971 when Ambrose Chalk had retired and the choir continued to build on its fine reputation.

In that era, with plentiful funding for the arts, Southampton Guildhall was the base and the concerts were often with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra or Bournemouth Sinfonietta. There were many notable performances and some works heard for the first time in Southampton including Vaughan William’s Sea Symphony and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Following Derek Goodger’s retirement, Aidan Fairlie was appointed Musical Director in 1998 and the choir continued to perform to high standards and to widen its repertoire. Audiences were delighted by works ranging from the much loved Faure’s Requiem to the ambitious Howell’s Hymnus Paradisi.

In 2009, Peter Gambie became Musical Director and embarked on developing the choir into one of the leading choral societies in the country. Under his direction it has gone from strength to strength resulting in audience members commenting that ‘the choir has never sounded better’.

There have been many memorable performances in recent years and after ‘An Evening with Dame Emma Kirkby’ in 2011, Dame Emma said ‘What a pleasure to work with such a large, healthy and accomplished choir. Congratulations on all of it, not least the flurries of semiquavers in the Handel.’ Praise indeed from such a celebrity!

2013 saw a fine performance of Bach’s B minor Mass with Southern Pro Musica with whom the choir had previously sung Bach’s St Matthew Passion to great acclaim. This was followed by the world premiere of a new choral drama on slavery called ‘Freedom’, composed by Ian Schofield and commissioned with the help of a £10,000 Community Arts Award to the choir from the BBC. The Choral Society were joined on this occasion by a variety of other local choirs and musicians demonstrating the desire to reach out to the wider community including young people. This was the case once again in 2014 when the choir performed Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with Southampton Young Singers and collaborated with Southampton Youth Orchestra for Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana along with an innovative light show enhancing the performance.

In November 2015, Peter Gambie generously handed the final performance baton to the well known conductor, Brian Kay for a wonderfully successful Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in Winchester Cathedral. Again, Southern Pro Musica joined them and with top soloists and Peter Gambie’s Renaissance Choir singing the semi-chorus, the packed cathedral was given an evening to remember and prompted comments such as ‘a quite magnificent performance’. Afterwards, Brian Kay agreed to become the choir’s Patron.

Demonstrating their versatility, Southampton Choral Society also sang the complete Rachmaninov’s Vespers unaccompanied in 2013 and in 2016 a concert entitled ‘Music and Monarchy’ produced chamber choirs from their own ranks to sing works by Byrd, Parsons and Tallis.

They have been very proud of their collaboration with the Royal Marines Association Concert Band in several popular and festive ‘Carols with the Band’ concerts which have always delighted their audiences.

Following on from their recent 75th anniversary season, they have been fortunate to be directed by Andrew Hayman who is taking the choir forward, planning an exciting series of concerts.

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