Our Choir

The Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir has a reputation for musical excellence and is recognised as one of Warwickshire’s finest amateur choirs. Directed by conductor Nigel Stark, we regularly perform throughout the year at local venues. We have a core programme of about four concerts each year, as well as various private engagements and usually a bit of festive carol singing to help raise money for good causes.  We enjoy singing a challenging and diverse repertoire and the Choir aims to give performances of a high musical standard, but we also believe that music-making should be fun and a good way to make new friends.

When and where are Rehearsals?

During the school term, rehearsals are held every Wednesday from 7.30 to 9.45pm at Lillington Primary School, Cubbington Road, CV32 7AG.  Members are expected to attend a minimum number of rehearsals, to ensure the we maintain a high standard of performance. In addition to weekly practices, we also arrange occasional Saturday workshops to give time to develop our voices and technique, which helps us to improve the sound of the choir as a whole.

Can I try it out?

If you have basic music skills already, you are welcome to come along and join us on a trial basis for a few weeks to see if you wish to join the choir full-time. We will lend you the necessary sheet music subject to a small charge for music hire.  We think you will find us friendly and welcoming.

Audition Process

In order to join the Choir, it is necessary to take an audition.  This will usually take place after two or three weeks, and will involve some voice exercises, simple sight reading, and a short demonstration of your singing and ability to keep in tune. The audition will be performed privately with the conductor and usually takes place before a normal practice night.  Singers are re-auditioned every three years to ensure that the Choir maintain its high standards.

If this sounds serious, don’t be alarmed! As well as striving for choral perfection we like to enjoy ourselves along the way!

Membership Subscription

As the Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir is a charity, all members are asked to make a contribution towards the running costs of the Choir via a subscription. Full membership of the choir costs £150 per year, payable after a successful audition, and can be paid in three termly instalments. If you are a full-time student aged 18—25, subscription is £20 annually, and free for under 18’s. As a new member you will pay nothing until you have passed your audition and decided to join the choir.

Music can be bought through the Choir, or hire copies can be ordered for a small charge through the Choir Librarian.

Choral Scholarships

RLSBC is pleased to offer Choral Scholarships of £180 per season to successfully auditioned young singers who wish to broaden their experience of choral music and public performance.  Choral scholarships are open to anyone aged 16 – 25 with a keen interest in singing with the ability to read music, and a willingness to commit.

The application process consists of a short interview followed by an audition with our conductor Nigel Stark.  The audition will be performed privately and will involve some voice exercises, simple sight reading, and a short demonstration of your singing.  There is no requirement to prepare a set audition piece.

The scholar’s commitment is to attend a minimum of 80% of rehearsals per term and all concerts.  In return, they will receive a bursary of £60 per term for three terms, payable at the end of each term; free music hire; free membership of the choir for the year and two free tickets for the RLSBC concert of your choice during the year.

A limited number of scholarships, in any voice part, are awarded for one season at a time on a competitive basis and expressions of interest for 2017-18 are invited now.  If you are interested in finding out more or wish to apply for a scholarship please contact the Choir’s Membership Secretary Mark Beaglehole via email at membership@rlsbc.org

In our new, regular series of singer profiles, second bass Mark Beaglehole (pictured, below), talks about his involvement with the Choir including various roles in the Choir’s committee.

Mark joined The Bach Choir in 2005. ‘I was singing with another choir in Warwick for around 10 years until the rehearsal night changed and clashed with another weekly commitment. A friend had told me about the excellent musical director Janet Lincé at the Bach Choir and invited me to come along for a try-out which quickly led to an audition. The change of choir was quite refreshing and the musical programme seemed to suit my musical taste and experience.’

My love for choral music goes back to my childhood, and some of my earliest memories are of sitting alongside my father at the church organ in St Paul’s Weymouth, where from the age of 20 he was a keen organist and choirmaster. I learned to appreciate many different choral styles and listened to many choral performances before becoming a chorister and singing them for real!

I have always found the Bach Choir to be a welcoming and sociable group, with a repertoire that, during my time, has included most of the important works for mixed voices. I have enjoyed singing chorales and complete works from the classical –Brahms, Bach, Mozart and Haydn – to the contemporary – including Bob Chilcott, John Rutter, Jonathan Willcocks.

I would like to think that my voice is quite versatile and tuneful (!) and I like to have a good sing. Like many other choir members I find it quite therapeutic after a busy day.  As a 2nd bass, you will usually find me in the back row of the choir and, after rehearsal, along with the other 2nd basses at the local pub – where we relax and review our choral performance over a pint!

‘‘Some of the concert works are outside my comfort zone at first, so I tend to view them as good for my personal development, but usually get to really like them by the time the concert comes round.’’

As a retired banker and more recently, interior decorator, Mark loves to get stuck into DIY projects at home, and for one or two friends and colleagues in the area. However, singing is still a very important part of Mark’s life and whilst singing with the Bach Choir, he has also contributed to the running of the choir through his activities in various roles on the committee over more than 12 years.

Mark Beaglehole