Stratford-upon-Avon Choral Society was founded in 1836, and is one of the oldest choral societies in Britain.
Apart from short interludes during wartime, the Society has given regular concert performances in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford Town Hall, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Civic Hall, and the Levi Fox Hall at King Edward's School.
The choir has a long history of singing new works as well as classical favourites. The choir sang in the first performances of Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem", "The Beatitudes" by Sir Arthur Bliss, "This Airy Day" by James Walker, Howard Goodall's "Let Us Be True to One Another" and Stephen Dodsworth's "Time's Glory". There have also been other shorter works by the Choir's conductors John Cook, Peter Summers and Stephen Dodsworth.
Some memorable recent performances include
Joining with the Huddesfield Choral Society in 2010 to sing Handel's Messiah in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, as part of the opening of the new main theatre.
Performing the UK premier of Joseph Touchemoulin's Messe Solonelle in 2013. We believe this was the first performance of this work anywhere since the 18th centuary. It was re-disovered in a library in Regensburg in Germany, the town where it was written, and a new printed edition was created and edited by our Music Director, Stephen Dodsworth.
The Society commissioned "A Shakespeare Cantata" by Toby Young to celebtate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. We performed the world premiere of this new piece in Holy Trinity church, where Shakespeare was baptised and is buried, in March 2016.
The Society's performance of Dvorak's Stabat Mater in March 2017 raised hairs on the back of the neck, a beautiful concert and widely praised.
Our performance of Carmina Burana in March 2018 was loud and boisterous. We performed this in the Levi Fox Hall as the church was not large enough for the choir along with a big orchestra and children's choir, as well as a large audience.
A fascinating book on the history of the Choral Society was written by Diana Brownhill. It is called "An Illustrated History of Stratford-upon-Avon Choral Society. A Celebration of the first 150 years 1836-1986 by Diana M. Brownhill" ISBN 0 9511104 0 3. The 201 pages are packed with pictures, programmes, facts and anecdotes and give a wonderful view of Stratford, the Choral Society and all related matters over the period. The book, though out of print now, is available on the Web and through book-sellers. Many members of the present choir have copies of it and of course there is a copy in the society's library.