Keswick Hall Choir was originally established by the late Geoffrey Laycock in 1970, an amalgamation of the Choral Society and the Madrigal Choir of Keswick Hall College of Education. Following the college’s absorption into the University of East Anglia in 1981, the choir developed an independent existence under John Aplin, himself a graduate of UEA.
Over the years the choir’s programmes have included a number of Premieres, firstly by Paul Johnson, and in 2016, by local composers Caitlin Woods and Nicholas Barton. In 2000/2001 the choir commissioned two sets of pieces from Paul Johnson with a grant from the Eastern Arts Board and, in 2010, presented the première of his Requiem. This, together with other of Paul Johnson’s works, feature on the CD Requiem recorded by the choir in 2011. Also, in 2001, the choir recorded Roger Mayor’s new work Julian – Mystical Revelations and in 2004 sang in the première of Gavin Bryars’ From Egil’s Saga with the London Sinfonietta. The choir has collaborated with internationally renowned ensembles in interpreting music spanning five centuries, including the Gabrieli Players, Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts, Brook Street Band and piano duo David Nettle and Richard Markham. The choir also works regularly with local musicians and ensembles such as The Academy of St Thomas and Norwich Baroque.
In 2003 the choir provided the vocal accompaniment for the Northern Ballet Theatre’s Requiem!! (based on Mozart’s Requiem) at the Norwich Theatre Royal and later in the year took part in the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ‘Christmas Concert’. In 2008 the choir returned to the Theatre Royal, performing, with the Rambert Dance Company and London Musici, a newly-commissioned work by Howard Goodall, entitled Eternal Light: A Requiem. In 2014 they were asked to feature in and accompany Russell Watson at his Christmas concert in Norwich Cathedral.
Much of the choir’s work is a cappella and a selection of this repertoire was recorded in Norwich Cathedral in 2006, the resulting CD, The Shining Road, marking John Aplin’s 25th season as the choir’s Musical Director.
In November 2010, the choir presented a programme comprising British choral music from the past hundred years as part of the centennial celebrations of the consecration of the Church of St John the Baptist, now Norwich’s RC Cathedral, the venue of its very first concert 40 years previously.
In April 2012, the choir said farewell to John Aplin who retired after 30 years as Musical Director, together with his wife Alison who served as rehearsal pianist for the same period. They were succeeded by another husband and wife team, Christopher and Anne Duarte.
Chris and Anne Duarte led the choir to add more French music to its repertoire, as well as expanding their performances of Baroque repertoire. 20th and 21st century music continues to play an important part in its programmes. Under the direction of Chris, November 2014 saw the choir worked with students from Framingham Earl High School on a First World War project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. In April 2016 students from Wymondham High Academy joined us to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Chris and Anne also saw the choir through lockdowns during the Covid 19 pandemic, where rehearsals (albeit, online) were still a much-cherished feature of Wednesday evenings, despite unusual circumstances. This remarkable team passed the baton after a decade of dedication to the choir in 2021.
In 2022, the choir welcomed Daniel Justin as musical director. Daniel’s infectious enthusiasm, his musicianship, and endless reserves of good humour and stories about the music has truly provided a joyful start to the choir’s new chapter
Here is a list of works performed by the choir between December 2012 & February 2020: