The Parish Choir at St Stephen's is a voluntary group made up of a regular core of singers and a wider pool of more occasional and visiting singers, and includes a mix of singing experience and proficiencies, from novices and those who are building confidence to those who have experience as choral scholars and lay clerks at Universities and Cathedrals or at similar levels. The Choir is trained and directed by the Director of Music, Matthew Blaiden.
The Choir sings regularly at the 10am Parish Eucharist each Sunday in term-time, with rehearsals before and after this service at 9:00-9:45am and 11:30am-12:15pm. Additionally, the Choir sings for 6pm Choral Evensong on occasional Sundays; for services marking some important weekday Feasts and occasions in the church year, such as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday;and on other special occasions such as at the annual Service of Lessons and Carols at Christmas and during our Dedication festival, "St Stephen's Week", usually in late June. All occasions involve a rehearsal before the service. There is no regular separate weekday rehearsal.
The Choir's repertoire is varied and growing, ranging from the Medieval and Renaissance periods through to music of the present day, and including more and less familiar choral music chosen to correspond appropriately with the Church's liturgical seasons and to suit the available singers. At Parish Eucharists, the Choir sings choral repertoire frequently as an introit and usually during communion, as well as the appointed psalmody for the day, and leads congregational singing of a eucharistic setting, hymns, and responses. At occasional Choral Evensongs, the Choir sings settings of the Preces and Responses and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, the appointed psalmody, and an anthem, as well as leading congregational hymn singing. To get more of an idea of the sort of music the Choir sings, please do browse the available Music Lists.
Joining the Choir
The Choir at St Stephen's invites new singers to join in all voice-parts, whether more or less experienced, in either regular or occasional capacities. Commitment is flexible, with the emphasis being on communication and reasonable advance notice of availability to enable planning rather than there being any required minimum. The only requirement is the ability to read music, because of the rate of musical turnover and relatively short rehearsals, though sight-reading need not be very proficient as rehearsals involve active teaching and support in your learning of music.
A friendly, welcoming, sociable, and supportive group, singing in the Choir at St Stephen's would suit a variety of circumstances: perhaps you are interested in or have enjoyed choral singing but are new or returning to it after a break, and may want to (re)build experience and confidence; or you might be a student or professional who wants to be part of a choir where you can develop or carry on your choral singing with a schedule that can balance with studies or work; or you may be an accomplished singer who would enjoy being part of and supporting a regular singing community. Students' future plans may include applying for choral scholarships, for instance, for which regular choral singing can provide good preparation and for which the Director of Music would be happy to provide guidance and support, if desired, by arrangement.
As befits a mixed ability ensemble, there is no formal audition to join. However, you will be invited to come and try out singing in the Choir for a week or two for you to get a sense of whether St Stephen's and the Choir seems right for you, and to meet informally with the Director of Music to discuss music at St Stephen's and what you are looking for. At that time you may be asked to sing a little for the purposes of planning and gauging what support may or may not be needed; no preparation is needed for this.
If you would be interested in joining the Choir, or have any questions, the Director of Music, Matthew Blaiden, will be happy to hear from you - please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Covid-19 Choral singing at St Stephen's continues to take place when and in ways permitted by Government and Church Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines as they change and develop, with singers who are willing and able to come to sing safely. In order to protect the health and safety of all involved, we employ mitigations and protections such as reducing the duration of sessions, limiting numbers of individuals and households/bubbles involved per session, keeping contact details of those who do sing for purposes of Track and Trace, ensuring social distancing between individuals and households/bubbles, ensuring distance between the Choir and the congregation, regular sanitising of hands and surfaces, wearing face coverings in church whenever not singing (unless exempt), ensuring good ventilation of church, discouraging social mixing in church before or after sessions, and not sharing music.
St Stephen’s Church, Rochester Row, London, SW1P 1LE
Parish Office: St Stephen’s House, Hide Place, London SW1P 4NJ