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All Saints Chorus
The Chorus & Orchestra were formed by Musical Director Jon Cullen at West Ham Church in 1994. Now in their 21st year the chorus reputation has risen and it is now regarded as Newham's premier music ensemble..
All Saints Chorus & Orchestra - A brief history

The Chorus & Orchestra celebrated their twemtieth anniversary year in 2014. In 1994 they gave their debut concert with a performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. The Chorus then had twenty-three singers! Now, the numbers have swollen to fifty, the audiences are now up to four hundred plus, and with them the reputation of one of Newham's musical success stories.

So what's the secret? It's probably hard to define although there are a few measurable features. First, of course, there are no auditions. Jon Cullen doesn't believe in them. He is convinced that most people can learn to enjoy singing, no matter how demanding the piece, given time, encouragement and lots of support from some very experienced singers in the Chorus. No-one in this choir is ever going to look down and say, 'You mean you've never sung before!' The Chorus is a real community organization - all are welcome, and everyone achieves success at their own level. The second thing is that what you see is what we are! Some choirs almost double their size on the day of a concert with loads of extra singers brought in. The Chorus is the Chorus. Extra singers are rarely brought in. The choir on the stage is the choir that rehearses every Tuesday. The third thing is fun. Rehearsals are always fun (nearly) and the choir has a raging social life. This extends from after-rehearsal visits to the pub and includes socials and parties throughout the year. One of the Chorus highlights is the weekend away. For many years they have gone to a beautiful Elizabethan manor house (Hengrave Hall) to rehearse, relax and socialize.


All those things don't detract from or suggest that there's no academia at all. Of course not, and the repertoire of the Chorus proves it. Works performed over the years include Handel's 'Messiah', Mozart's 'Requiem Mass', and both Haydn's 'Creation' and his Nelson Mass. They also include Bach's St Matthew and St John Passions (both sung in German), the Magnificat, Mass in b minor, Christmas Oratorio and Cantatas. The list extends to Faure's Requiem and a whole host of music by Byrd, Tallis, John Rutter, Parry, Elgar, Vivaldi, Taverner and so on. Also included are two works by Jon Cullen - The Annunciation and Requiem for the Millennium, which the Chorus has recorded. A new work of Jon's, 'Nisi Dominus', was sung at the re-opening of West Ham Church.

The Orchestra has played a large part in the success story, too. Roger Clayden, who plays 'Cello, and is the orchestra fixer, met Jon Cullen at university years ago. At first it was difficult to book class players. People would ask, 'The All Saints who?' Not now. Players are happy to return again and again. This means that the orchestra, although professional, are not detached. The orchestra are equally at home accompanying the chorus, or, as they often do, performing the symphonic works of Mozart and Beethoven at concerts. Chorus and Orchestra go well together. The orchestra plays with a very good choir, and the choir gets to hear some really outstanding performers. Everybody benefits, especially the audience.


With the temporary closure of West Ham Church (the home of the Chorus) due to the first phase of its rebuilding programme in 2000, the Chorus had to be more independent and perform in pastures new. Going to St John's Stratford (pictured above) to rehearse and perform gave the Chorus a new, broader perspective on performing - not only in, but around Newham and further afield.

The ambition for the choir is to constantly increase its numbers. A chorus of seventy to eighty enabled the Chorus to broaden its repertoire further, enabling the Chorus to perform some of the bigger choral works like Verdi's 'Requiem' and so on.

What the Chorus now needs is some serious sponsorship. Finance is the only limitation on more regular performances with the orchestra. In the annual budget overall ticket sales for the concerts will pay for one large performance. The money for any others must be met in part by members' subscriptions and other fundraising events organised throughout the year. The Chorus would like to attract some further sponsorship from local businesses. This would allow budgeting for one other major concert. As you read this, is it possible that you might be a member or owner of a local business who would be interested in sponsoring the Chorus? If so, please get in touch. You would not only be helping the Chorus, but also supporting the arts in Newham.


How to join

New singers are always welcome.

The chorus rehearse every Tuesday at West Ham Church from 8 - 9.30pm





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