About Us

Gravesham Choral Society was preceded by the Gravesend Philharmonic Society, founded in 1938. This group comprised a nucleus of members of the Bible Society Choir and the old Northfleet Choral Society conducted by Braden Hunwick. Its stated aim was: - to present the very best of choral music with the finest soloists and orchestras obtainable, for the benefit of the music-loving public of Gravesend, combined with the pleasure and satisfaction of achievement obtained by the members of the Society. Few could argue with that. However, programme notes from both 1951 and 1959 mention the financial problems of presenting first-class concerts, and it seems likely that these difficulties finally overwhelmed the Society. It therefore disbanded in the 1960s.

Gravesend Grammar School teacher, David Goddard and schools' Music Inspector Joyce Honnor founded Gravesham Choral Society. Early in 1978 they had initiated concerts for young musicians in the area to involve choral singing following an appeal to parents and friends to supplement the schools' choirs. The adults so enjoyed the experience of singing together in Handel's Messiah and Fauré's Requiem that they formed the new society with a membership of some 60 local singers. With David Goddard as their first conductor, rehearsals began in September 1978 for an early December inaugural performance of Handel's Messiah.

In 1981 David Goddard relinquished his post to study for the ministry and Alan Vincent was appointed to succeed him as Director of Music. For Alan Vincent's biography please see the Our Director page on this site.

Alan Vincent portrait

Under Alan’s exceptional leadership, the Society has gone from strength to strength. Membership now regularly exceeds 100 for concerts with most singers coming from the immediate area as well as further afield from the outskirts of London to south and east Kent. As well as programming sure-fire favourites, Alan's philosophy of only repeating popular works every so often has meant that members and audiences have been introduced to music rarely heard outside major UK concert venues.

Recent seasons have been no exception with performances of such works as Finzi's For St Cecilia, Elgar's The Music Makers, Mendelssohn's Lobgesang, Rossini's Stabat Mater, Beethoven's Mass in C and Purcell's Ode on St Cecilia's Day 1692.

The society's principal aim of presenting very high-quality performances attracts large audiences and enables it to engage first-rate professional soloists and orchestral musicians. The latter are mostly Kent- or London-based, and many were formerly in Kent County Youth Orchestra which Alan directed for 17 years. Roger Harris is our excellent rehearsal pianist and has vast experience as an accompanist. Rehearsals are demanding, but fun, making Wednesday evenings a most rewarding experience. Singers are friendly and always keen to welcome new members.

We promote three major concerts a year, the spring one being at Rochester Cathedral, a splendid venue which helps us attract a wider audience. Other concerts are at Gravesend's historic early 18th century St George's Church including the Carol Concerts which for some time have had to be repeated on subsequent nights in order to accommodate large audience numbers.

Annual fundraising "Instant" performances of well and less well-known works at Gravesend Methodist Church give much pleasure to members and guest singers alike and help swell our coffers.