The Beccles Choral Society
Beccles Choral Society had its first mention giving a “concert and soiree” in January 1851. It took place in the Assembly Room (Public Hall), and was assisted by members of the Bungay and Halesworth choral societies. Success thanks to the efforts of Mr and Mrs Corbyn, musically active members of the Independent Chapel (today the United Reformed Church on Hungate). The event was attended by up to three hundred (where did they all sit?).
Several months later there was a fund-raising event by BCS in the Beccles Assembly Room, held in aid of the Beccles Lying-in-Charity (maternity hospital) with a programme of vocal and instrumental music. Among the fourteen items were two overtures (Handel’s Saul and Mozart’s Le Nozzi di Figaro), an aria from Haydn’s Creation sung by Dr. Carnaby, four choir items, and a series of anthems, glees and madrigals. … Reserved seats were 2s. each; family tickets (for 4) were 6s.6d; back seats and gallery 1s. Two years later another concert was held. “On Thursday evening 22 September 1853, at 7 pm for a 7.45 pm start, and assisted by several amateur friends, the eighth concert of the Beccles Choral Society took place in the Assembly Room.” The friends must have been instrumentalists, comments Mrs Gee, “to make up a small band including piano, flute and violin. For the first time, a chorus from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus was included in the choir’s performing repertoire.”
The choir is founded…
The Beccles Choral Society has continued to give annual concerts. A period of decline between 1914 to the late 1930s occasioned both by the First World War and the development of the gramophone and radio.
During the 1940s and 1950s Dr Martin Shaw and Benjamin Britten, both patrons of the society, regularly joined with other local choirs (Bungay Choral and Great Yarmouth Musical Societies, for instance) for special performances. A number of nationally-known soloists sang with the society from the 1950s to 1970s.
Having long outgrown the Public Hall, except for its Tuesday rehearsals, and today finding limited space even in St Michael’s Church, Beccles, for all who want to attend its concerts, the society, faces a new and challenging period in its evolution.
One hundred and fifty years later and building on our history we continue to use the Public Hall and St Michael’s Church for performances and rehearse on a Tuesday.
A more detailed history is available click here.