The Parish Choir of St Giles and St George, Ashtead
The Ashtead Parish Choir consists of the Choir of St. Giles, the Choir of St. George and the Youth Choir. Each has its own identity and role, and they are run individually, but they regularly combine as 'the Parish Choir' for special services inside and outside the parish.
The choirs of St.Giles and St.George serve three of the congregations in the diverse approach to Sunday worship in Ashtead, and also carry out an important ministry singing for weddings and funerals when requested.
The Parish Choir maintains a choral tradition that began centuries ago, even before the establishment of the Church of England, and is now almost unique to this country alone. Both church choirs have a long-standing musical tradition and they aim to achieve the highest possible standards in leading the worship at our churches. Both choirs are affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music, and a number of past choristers have gone on to become choristers at cathedrals, to become professional singers, or otherwise distinguish themselves in the world of music.
One of the wonderful aspects of choral singing is that it is a ‘team activity’ that can involve all age groups from 8 to 80!! - the common bond being a simple love of singing and music. Choral singing is one of the few activities in the field of human endeavour when children and young people can work with adults on an equal level and have an equally important part to play.
The choirs' repertoire consists of hymns and worship songs, psalms and canticles, responses, carols, music from Iona and Taizé, and some of the finest anthems from the sixteenth century to the present day, a repertoire that has been richly expanded by the inspirations of many famous composers such as Tallis, Gibbons, Byrd, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Wesley, Stanford, Howells and modern composers such as John Rutter.
Each month the choirs combine to sing Choral Evensong (when settings of the Canticles are also sung), and to celebrate such festivals as Advent, Christmas, Easter and Harvest with special Carol and Thanksgiving Services. Throughout the year, they also combine to put on special choral services for such occasions as Mothering Sunday and Saints' Days, choral meditations such as the Cross of Christ and Stainer’s Crucifixion during Lent, and the Fauré Requiem for Remembrance Sunday. The choirs also provide music for other events such as Harvest Supper, and for those unable to get to church, we go to them, when we are invited to help their worship, at Lime Tree Court and the Pantiles in Ashtead, or Princess Alice Hospice in Esher. The Parish Choir also sings services at our own diocesan cathedral of Guildford when the resident choir is away, and takes part in the annual Diocesan Choirs' Festival.