The Baroque Collective Singers
Founded by conductor John Hancorn and producer Liz Webb in 2013, the Baroque Collective Singers is a chamber choir made up of the very best singers from Lewes and the surrounding area. The choir aims to explore a wide range of repertoire, a cappella and with instruments, with a focus on baroque.
BCS performed Britten’s Ceremony of Carols at its inaugural concert in December 2013 and Heinrich Schütz’s St Matthew Passion at Easter 2014. Concerts in 2015 included Vivaldi, Scarlatti and Buxtehude in March 2015 at St John sub Castro, Lewes with members of the Baroque Collective, and Brahms’s Requiem at the Hurst Festival with young soloists from the Royal Academy of Music and pianists Nancy Cooley and Gareth Hancock. A Christmas concert on Saturday 12 December at St Michael’s Church, Lewes featured Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit pour Noel and festive works by Britten and Bach alongside contemporary Christmas music by James MacMillan and British Composer Award winning composer Ed Hughes.
Concerts in 2016 included Handel’s Dixit Dominus, Bach’s double motet Singet dem Herrn and Handel’s Trio Sonata Op.5 No. 4 with the Baroque Collective on 21 February 2016 and a concert of French and English music in July 2016 as part of the Lewes Festival of Song. On Sunday 19 February 2017 BCS performed Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas with the Baroque Collective.
Concerts in 2017 included Summer, Song & Strawberries on 2 July 2017 and Handel’s Messiah on Saturday 23 December 2017 with The Baroque Collective, both at St Michael’s Church, Lewes. Concerts in 2018 included J S Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Baroque Collective and East Sussex Bach Choir on 21 April and a concert in Lewes Festival of Song on 8 July featuring the world premiere of ‘Silence’ by Orlando Gough; ‘Winter of the World’ commemorating the end of World War I on 18 November and a fundraising Christmas concert for the Lewes Festival of Song on 14 December 2018.
In 2019 BCS sang Handel and Vivaldi with the Baroque Collective on Saturday 16 February 2019; ‘Draw On Sweet Night’ at the inaugural Lewes Baroquefest on 18 July 2019, performed Faure’s Requiem in a fundraising concert for the Chailey Heritage Foundation on 15 September 2019, sang Vaughan Williams’s ‘Serenade to Music’ with soprano Felicity Lott and mezzo soprano Rebecca Leggett in the Homelink Gala Concert at Glyndebourne on 17 November 2019, performed in the Lewes Amnesty Group’s Christmas Concert on 15 December 2019 and presented a sold-out Handel’s Messiah with the Baroque Collective on Sunday 22 December 2019.
‘Myths, Mystique and Mayhem was a programme of Partsongs on Saturday 15 February 2020 including works by Holst, Brahms and Britten directed by Tony Jay and Nicholas Houghton. BCS sang Handel’s Dixit Dominus with the Baroque Collective as part of Lewes Baroquefest on Saturday 24 July 2021. Pianist Nancy Cooley and Nicholas Houghton on harmonium joined the choir for Rossini’s ‘Petite Messe Solennelle’ on Saturday 2 October 2021. BCS performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Lewes Concert Orchestra on Friday 15 October 2021 and gave two performances of Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater a 10 with Tudor Anthems in Firle Church on Sunday 3 April 2022 and at St Michael’s Church in Lewes on Sunday 10 April 2022.
Concerts in 2022 included three events as part of Lewes Baroquefest: the third in a series of Sing & Discover workshops with John Hancorn and Richard Wigmore on 16 July 2022; a concert of Purcell Anthems on Wednesday 20 July 2022 with soprano Alexandra Kidgell; and the Festival Finale on Saturday 23 July: Handel’s Four Coronation Anthems and extracts from Messiah with The Baroque Collective.
BCS premiered Orlando Gough’s ‘Out Of My Head’ in a series of outdoor, a cappella, flashmob-style performances on Saturday 17 September 2022 in Lewes and sang sing Christmas music by Bach and Handel in ‘Christmas Baroque’ on Wednesday 21 December 2022. They performed a sold-out programme of Bach and Handel on Saturday 22 April 2023 and performed Rigatti and Gabrieli with His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts in the final concert in Lewes Baroquefest on Saturday 22 July 2023.
BCS gave the UK premiere of Tony Biggin’s Requiem with Vivaldi’s Gloria on 7 October 2023 in Eastbourne and made their debut at the Brighton Early Music Festival on 28 October 2023 with the BREMF Players and the Arculo Consort of Viols in a programme of Bach and Buxtehude. A fundraising performance of Handel’s Messiah on Sunday 17 December 2023 in Lewes Town Hall raised over £2,000 for the charity Doctors for Nepal.
Future plans include a Songs for Springtime concert on Saturday 21 April 2024 at Michelham Priory and St Michael’s, Lewes; Bach’s Mass in B minor in Lewes Baroquefest on Saturday 20 July 2024; a return visit to Brighton Early Music Festival in October 2024 and Christmas Baroque on Sunday 15 December 2024.