Founded in 1839 at the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, Guildford Choral Society is one of the longest established choirs in England. An entry in Russells Almanack in 1842 details its original aims.
Amongst the choir’s patrons were The Rt. Hon. the Earl of Lovelace who rubbed shoulders with Ross D. Mangles, M.P. and one George Best, Esq., who we believe had no connection with football! Amongst the Patronesses was Lady Noel Byron, wife of the poet, Lord Byron, whose only daughter, Ada, was the wife of the Rt.Hon, the Earl of Lovelace. Ada lived in Ockham, Surrey and was a distinguished mathematician. The programming language “ADA” is named in her honour.
Our more recent history is no less glittering. Guildford Choral Society was the first choir to sing in Guildford’s new concert hall, G Live, in December 2011, under the baton of Conductor Emeritus, Hilary Davan Wetton, supported by Guildford’s own Philharmonic Orchestra. This performance followed a hugely successful performance in the Royal Albert Hall of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Guildford Choral Society has a long-standing relationship with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In November 2010 GCS and the RPO performed the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems in Guildford Cathedral, with James Morgan conducting. In this performance, and as part of the continuing partnership with the Music of Life Foundation, Claire Doran, one of their students, sang the Pie Jesu soprano solo from the Fauré Requiem. In 2005, GCS and the RPO performed the Mozart Requiem together in the Royal Festival Hall in a concert which benefitted the British Red Cross. It was a sell out performance!
In June 2002, at a concert in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, at the Royal Festival Hall, Guildford Choral performed Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Walton’s Coronation Te Deum with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the City of London Choir. Held in the presence of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the concert benefited the Prostate Research Campaign UK and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
April 2000 and the new Millennium saw the choir back at the Royal Albert Hall, this time with the Philharmonia Orchestra and joined by the City of London Choir, the Leicester Philharmonic Choir and the Brussels Choral Society in a performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, a concert which benefitted the Alzheimer’s Research Trust.