Stephen Richards (right) with composer Douglas Coombes
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – STEPHEN RICHARDS
Stephen studied music at the Colchester Institute, Guildhall School of Music, and Birmingham College of Education. Following some years teaching in schools in Hertfordshire, he developed a career in the music industry, including many years as a Director of Publishing at international music company Boosey & Hawkes. Since moving to Norfolk in 2007 he has continued consultancy work to the music industry, making music and teaching clarinet and saxophone. He founded Southrepps Chorale in 2011. From 2012-16 he directed stage musicals at Aylsham High School.
ACCOMPANIST – CATHY AL-BAY
Cathy originates from Sheffield and began music at an early age with brass playing. She started playing piano at the age of 11, later also taking up the clarinet and flute. She studied music at Bath Spa University, and is a qualified primary school teacher who has worked in Germany and Jordan as well as the UK. She moved to Norfolk in 1998 and has worked as accompanist to the former North Norfolk Chorale, Broadland Youth Choir and since 2013, with Southrepps Chorale. She is also active in music theatre and accompanied Norfolk Youth Music Theatre for two years, with seven shows and two visits to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Southrepps Chorale is a community choir founded in 2011 by musical director Stephen Richards. We are a happy, welcoming group of up to 60 members united by the joy of singing, which gives us the opportunity to experience a wide variety of music and performance settings. We rehearse weekly on Tuesday evenings in Southrepps Village Hall and perform in public at least three times per year.
Our music is often unexpected and adventurous. Our programmes to date have included, amongst many others, well-loved works such as Faure’s Requiem (2014), George Shearing’s Songs and Sonnets (2015), The Armed Man (2017) by Karl Jenkins, Bob Chilcott’s Little Jazz Mass (2018) and Sir Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs (2022).
Our presentation of ‘Crown Imperial’ (2018) presented royal ceremonial music through 350 years, and our wide-ranging repertoire spans four centuries, from Purcell, Handel, Bach and Mozart to Cole Porter, Astor Piazzolla and Leonard Bernstein; in addition to contemporaries such as John Rutter, Will Todd, and Ole Gjeilo. Our performances have been sung in wonderful venues such as Binham Priory, St. Matthew’s Church, Ealing, The Lighthouse Sheringham, Gresham’s School Chapel, and in a number of our lovely local churches.
We are delighted to have been invited to perform at the Southrepps Music Festival for the past 12 summers. The choir has also sung concerts for the Trunch concert series including Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury (2019), and Sarah Quartel’s evocative Snow Angel (2022). We have been invited back to Trunch to perform Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols in December 2024. We have also enjoyed performing, by invitation of BREAK charity, at several of their Christmas concerts at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norwich.
The choir has commissioned several original works including Invocation: The Nightingale (2016), by Geoff Cummings-Knight, which has become much-loved staple of our repertoire, the beautiful Dawn’s One Star (2021), by Graham Ross (from Siegfried Sassoon’s poem “Idyll”), and The Bravest Man (2022) – an exciting musical dramatisation of the life of legendary Cromer Lifeboat coxswain Henry Blogg, composed by Douglas Coombes with libretto by writer and author Paul Rosier who is a member of our choir.
We contribute to local community life by singing at St. James’ Church Southrepps for carol services and services of Remembrance; have joined in with Southrepps Primary School for carols in the woods, and taken part in a flash-mob charity event in Morrisons supermarket.
Other events include Come and Sing days, and an annual autumn workshop often led by a guest musical professional.
In 2023 we much enjoyed learning and performing Karl Jenkins’ The Peacemakers and we performed a splendid winter concert to a large audience, with the Norwich City Concert Band, in the prestigious setting of The Church of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich.
If you enjoy singing and would like to join us, you do not have to be able to read music. If you are interested in joining the choir, please click here.