St Augustine’s has a very rich tradition of choral singing throughout its history and a church choir has existed from the very beginning. Today the main choir sings at two Sunday services a week; these are the 10am morning communion service (at which we generally sing an anthem) as well as a more traditional Evensong at 6:30pm. In addition we sing for many weddings and funerals throughout the year and for other festivals, including our rather special Christmas carol service.
For much of the church’s history – 65 years and until 2011 – this was under the dedicated directorship of Victor Knill. As such, while other church choirs faded away ours remains; some loyal members have themselves sung here for over 65 years. The current director is keen for this to continue and we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the various ways of getting involved.
Firstly we are really keen to recruit new members. Anyone, whether you have little or no experience of singing in a church choir, or are feeling rather “out of practice” on the musical front, is welcome. We would be very willing to give Voice for Life tuition to anyone of any age (there are octogenerians receiving Voice for Life level awards!) but learning to sing informally is also just fine.
Secondly, we are all busy people and we have come to realise that there are many musicians in the surrounding area who would love to sing in a church setting to
a reasonably high standard but do not have the time to commit to a choir full-time. As well as singing every week at services the adult choir has a strong tradition of performing for special
occasions, e.g. our Christmas carol service, and the singing of a Cantata during Holy Week. We usually have additional singers coming along to
sing on these occasions, and generally refer to them as “The Augmented Choir”. We are happy to welcome additional augmenters and are currently in the process of taking the idea of the “Augmented Choir” one stage further. As well as singing on special occasions we envisage that we could develop a rota system whereby such singers could group together (e.g. in a quartet) to sing occasionally at other services. Soloists are also a possibility. We would envisage that singers of the ad hoc type would have existing singing experience, but please don’t feel that you should be able to sight-sing perfectly. We would aim to put together small groups who could, with some prior individual practice and a short rehearsal beforehand, produce a fairly nice sound. Again, please let us know if you would be interested in participating.
Finally (and most provisionally) there is also a chance that we will be offering Choral Scholarships to support the choir in the next 1-2 years. These would be suitable for young people who sing (and have existing musical theory knowledge and sight singing skills) but perhaps lack the experience of choral singing in an ecclesiastical setting. They would provide ideal experience for those applying for University Choral Scholarships (which include not only those at the more famous Oxford and Cambridge colleges but also many churches or cathedrals affiliated with other Universities). We hope to be able to offer 1 or 2 scholarships of around £500 per year. Please check here again for future updates on this.
Practice takes place every Friday evening between 7:30 - 8:30 pm.
We are located in the middle of Thorpe Bay, about two miles east of Southend on Sea and just a short walk from the sea front. We are easily accessible by train (Thorpe Bay station is on the main line from London Fenchurch Street) and bus (Nos 1, 7 and 9), and there is ample on-street parking around the church. The church itself is on an island site at the junction of Johnstone Road and St Augustine’s Avenue.
Our address is:
St Augustine’s Church,
St Augustine’s Avenue,
Thorpe Bay, Essex.
13th May 2021