Proms concert for popular Littlehampton choir

Edwin James Festival Choir
Edwin James Festival Choir

Littlehampton’s Edwin James Festival Choir and Orchestra will be performing their annual last night of the proms concert Magical Musical Memories on Saturday, September 15 at St James the Great Church, East Ham Road, Littlehampton.

Numbers from Love Never Dies, Kiss Me Kate, Evita, Les Miserables, Blood Brothers, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and The Greatest Showman will be included plus many more favourites. Sopranos Pat Franklin and Lorna Moore will perform solos, and there will be a few surprises from the choir.

The festival orchestra alongside the choir will be performing a medley from Wicked, Miss Saigon and providing all the bells and whistles performances expected during the traditional Proms style second half of the concert, says choir spokeswoman Madeleine Wadley.

As Madeleine explains, it all comes as the choir celebrates its 20th birthday.

“Founded in August 1998 by James Rushman and Chris Allen, the Edwin James Festival Choir continues to grow from its original modest roots to the large community choir it now is.

“Life has turned full circle since the first last night of the proms style concert performed by the choir 20 years ago with just a handful of singers and guests from the Revusicals and The Hanover Band.

“Both old and new members of the choir hold past memories dear to its heart and, even now use Christmas song sheets typed and printed by Janet Martin, while the prom concert has become an annual feature in the choir.

“Back in 1999, the choir repeated the previous year’s success by holding another prom with orchestra and taking it on tour to Rose Green, Bognor Regis. That concert boasted 18 choir members having fun performing songs from various musicals. During those first two years, the choir raised money for St James’ Church Sound System, Choir Robes and a small donation towards the new Chapel.

“The orchestra, led by Kay Durrant since 1999, now boasts over two hundred members who have performed in concerts throughout the years.

“Since those early beginning numerous other concerts and events have taken place, and following the death of Chris Allen’s mother in October 2000, money raised at her funeral was used to open the choir’s first bank account and new hymn books were bought.

“By 2002 some 19 concerts were performed at St James and in the town. The highlight of the year was an invite to sing for guests at Bailiffs Court dressed in Dickensian outfits, followed by a dash to Arundel for another performance and back to Littlehampton to sing at Midnight Mass at St. James.

“During that year the choir took part in the Littlehampton bonfire procession on an illuminated float with the theme of a Victorian Christmas Card and has subsequently won trophies for their efforts. The choir continued to grow and in spring 2004 following its first AGM held because James Rushman was leaving St James Church to move to St Mary’s in Felpham, the name of the choir officially changed to The Edwin James Festival Choir, retaining James in the title and his second name Edwin.

“The choir’s aim was to promote the art form Music is Life involving local people in the choir and orchestra, bringing a wide range of music to the Arun area by local people for local people’ and that still is the choir’s mission. A committee was then formed with well-known locals David Barker, David and Susan Dyball and Doris Fitzgerald as members. The two Davids and Susan continue as patrons.

“The Edwin James Festival Choir, although originally with its roots in the church, is now the key community choir in Littlehampton and a popular addition to many local events. Whilst singing is the key activity, the choir has its fun side and regularly takes mini breaks in the U.K. and Europe and holds various social evenings throughout each year. The Edwin James Festival Choir is a family of friends and has grown to 80 singing members and 90 patrons.

“During the 20 years since its formation, over £145,000 has been raised for local charities by the choir, and the prom concert on September 15 will be in support of St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chestnut Tree House and St Barnabas House.”

Tickets available from the booking office (01243 58233) or at the door on the night are priced at £10 for adults and £4 for children with doors opening at St James the Great Church, East Ham Road, Littlehampton at 6.45pm for 7.30pm. More information available on the choir website www.edwinjamesfestivalchoir.co.uk. New members are always welcome to join rehearsals on Wednesdays from 7.30pm in St. James Church Hall, Littlehampton.

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