Chorus reforms for Norwich festival

Mary HamiltonOne of Britain's oldest choral groups has reformed in Norwich ready for this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.Support Norwich on FacebookOfficial Norwich 2013 bid websiteMary Hamilton

One of Britain's oldest choral groups has reformed in Norwich ready for this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The Festival Chorus had its first rehearsal of the year on Thursday evening, with more than 120 members signed up to perform together on the Festival's opening weekend.

This year's group is the largest for several years, but the chorus is still on the lookout for more tenors to join the performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The chorus has taken part in every festival since the event's birth in 1788, and is one of the oldest choral groups in the country, bringing talented local singers coming together with internationally renowned musicians to create a world class performance.

Festival chair Caroline Jarrold, who lives in Rockland St Mary, has been singing with the chorus for nearly 30 years, performing new pieces and well-loved classics over the years.

'I have sung in the chorus since the early 80s,' said the 50-year-old. 'At that point the festival was triennial - it happened every three years - and I have done pretty much every festival since I started.

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'The chorus is such a long established part of the festival, and it's one of the really important areas where the local community gets involved with performing.

'People come from around the county and make a real effort - they feel it's their festival and it gives them a real sense of ownership.

'It's also one of the most conventional areas of the festival now. It's great to see all the new things that have grown up in the festival but it's also vital to keep that link with the past.

'It can help to build links between other choral societies that are active all year round, because if there are other things going on we have a mechanism for spreading that.

'One of the great things generally about singing is when you get lots of people together like this and totally focus one putting together a great performance everyone really works hard and gets a lot out of it.'

Chorus master Terry Edwards, who represented his country at basketball at the Olympic Games, was chorus director at the Royal Opera House in London and conducted all the choral music in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

He said he was pleased to return for a second year coaching the chorus, and that coming to Norwich every week for a month was a delight.

'We are pulling together a group of people who have not sung together before, which is always great fun,' he said.

For more information about the Norfolk and Norwich Festival or to book tickets visit or call 01603 766400.

The chorus will perform on May 8. Anyone interested in getting involved should email

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