Ryesingers was formed in 1971 by their present Musical Director Lesley Brownbill. The choir was originally formed with ladies only and one of their early achievements was to take part in the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen. Although the choir is now mixed the Ladies choir still performs in its own right gaining much success in competitions.
Gentlemen having been admitted in 1978, the repertoire could therefore be expanded and now ranges from the great sacred oratorios and sacred music to part-songs and madrigals, selections from popular musicals and fully staged performances of Gilbert and Sullivan. The choir performs both locally and at events throughout the country and on the Continent.
Performances have included The Dream of Gerontius in Pershore Abbey and at Cranbrook, Berlioz Requiem in Norwich Roman Catholic Cathedral, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Bury St Edmunds and concerts of folk songs and madrigals, Christmas and light-hearted music in Rye and the surrounding areas. Ryesingers have always been successful in competition, including success at the competitive music festivals in Cheltenham, Blackpool, Middlesborough and Hastings Music Festivals where they have won numerous trophies.
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the last thirty nine years was the two performances of the spectacular Berlioz Requiem in Rye itself. After two years of planning and fundraising the concerts took place in July 1995 and have been a talking point ever since for anyone who either took part or attended in the audience. Ryesingers celebrated their Silver Jubilee and 30th anniversary with concerts as part of the Rye Festival (which also came into existence in 1971) in 1996 and 2001.
Having performed the Berlioz Requiem, further major choral works were staged in Rye by Ryesingers. Verdi’s Requiem was performed in 1998, and The Sea Symphony by R. Vaughan Williams was put on in 2000. There have been fully staged performances of Gilbert and Sullivan operas in Rye for each of the last ten years. See the Diary for details of our next performances.
Ryesingers have made 5 recordings, but only two are currently available. The 2002 release features Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ and 10 other songs ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to Gershwin. The 1997 release ‘Wednesdays at 7.30’ features ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’ by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and 14 other songs ranging from Madrigals to ‘The Rhythm of Life’.