Sussex choirs converge for biggest Choirfest yet

The Choirfest team
The Choirfest team

One of the biggest choir festivals in Sussex makes a return to the Regis Centre in Bognor this spring.

Choirfest, now in its third year, is back bigger and better with ten choirs now confirmed to perform over the weekend of March 16 and 17.

The festival, a joint collaboration between West Sussex-based Arun Arts and Bersted Arts, is a non-competitive event that welcomes a diverse range of community choirs from Hampshire across to East Sussex. The aim is to bring together some of the region’s talented but otherwise unknown community choirs and showcase their talents to the community without the pressure of competing against each other.

Will Hackett, one of the event organisers said: “The fact that it is non-competitive is one of the main attractions of this festival, and what makes it different from many other similar events.

“There are so many talented community choirs out there, as we have discovered over the last three years, but many are put off by the competitive element. A lot just want to share their joy of music and their vocal talents with the public without the pressure of having to compete against others – which to them goes against the whole idea of community singing.

“Over the last few years we’ve discovered and showcased so many talented choirs from across the south that wouldn’t otherwise have been given a platform or an opportunity to perform in an event and at a venue such as this.”

After an afternoon of rehearsing and networking, each of the choirs takes to the stage to perform in front of a packed audience in the Alexandra Theatre before all coming together onstage in a showstopping finale.

Some of the choirs confirmed to take part include The Igloo Choir from Wickham in Hampshire, Voices Unlimited from Hove, Singers Rechoired from Worthing, Chi Choir from Chichester and Inspirations Choir from Littlehampton.

And new for this year is the ChoirFest scratch choir, perfect for anyone who doesn’t belong to a choir but would like to try it out.

Taking place on the Saturday of the festival, members of the public are invited to form their very own choir, from scratch. Under the expert direction of a professional musical director, a group of newbies will come together to learn and rehearse a number of songs during the day before taking to the stage with the other community choirs to perform in front of an audience.

Will said: “This will be a challenging but really fun experience for anyone who has always wanted to sing in a choir but perhaps hasn’t found the confidence or the time needed to commit to regular practice. For some people, the thought of joining an already established group of singers as someone new and who doesn’t know anyone can also be quite daunting.

“The beauty of the scratch choir is that everyone is in the same boat and won’t know each other, and most will have little to no experience of singing in a choir. But they’ll receive all the coaching and encouragement they need and will be fully prepared for their performance in the evening.”

More information about the scratch choir challenge, and how to register to take part, can be found at www.berstedarts.com/choirfest, along with information about the event itself. Tickets on 01243 861010.

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