Despite the uncertainty surrounding the venue generally used by Edwin James Festival Choir and Orchestra for their concerts and rehearsals, 2016 ended on a high note with a successful two days of Christmas Concerts and having raised a total £136,000 for various local charities over the 19 years since its formation. ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’ featured the musical ‘Rock Nativity’ in the first half giving a contemporary pop rock feel to the Nativity Story. The second half saw a change of both mood and costumes with the choir appearing in Christmas jumpers and Santa outfits to sing well-known traditional Christmas songs with the requisite inclusion of the audience and the now legendary 12 days of Christmas with new words written by Chris Allen.
During the Christmas Concerts, Hampton the Hedgehog, made his first appearance as the choir’s new mascot dancing with the Mayor. Hampton was formally adopted by the Edwin James Choir at the end of the year, and his next appearance will be at the Pancake Olympics in the Town Centre on 25th February when the choir will be raising funds for Chestnut Tree House and St Barnabus House.
Musical Director, James Rushman, commented ‘The Edwin James Festival Choir has its roots in St James the Great Church, Littlehampton and is widely perceived as a church choir. However, it is very much a community choir and a not-for-profit performing arts charitable organisation serving Littlehampton and the surrounding towns and villages. New members are always welcome to join us. We carry out a voice assessment to enable us to put a new member in the right area of the choir, but no prior musical knowledge is required so no worries if you are not able to read music. No-one is excluded on an age, race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. The choir is simply a wonderful group of people who enjoy singing together and who are united by their love of music which has over the years created strong bonds of friendship and a real sense of community’. The choir meets on Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm in St James’s Hall, East Ham Road and rehearsals are just about to commence for the first concert of the year, the Mozart Requiem to be performed on Good Friday, 14th April with choir and orchestra and promoting the Mission to Sea Farers.
In their second concert of the year the choir’s ABC Summer Concert on 8th July featuring popular songs originally performed by Abba, The Beatles and The Carpenters which will showcase the choir in an up-beat, more relaxed fun mode. This concert will support four charities and promotes MacMillan Nurses. In the Autumn ‘Love and Marriage’ is the theme of the concert celebrating four different types of wedding from Scottish and English to Native American and Jewish. This concert will also be performed by both the Edwin James Festival Choir and their Orchestra. The year will draw towards its close with the two day performances of a Winter Wonderland Concert.
This community choir as well as it’s serious singing side also likes to have fun holding numerous social events of their own throughout the year including an annual birthday party and choir holiday, the choir gets involved in various local events such as the Littlehampton Markets, Carnival, Family Day, Bonfire Procession, the Rustington Street Fayre and twinning visits, quizzes, wedding bookings and carol concerts. James Rushman is also Organist and Choirmaster at St Mary’s Church in Felpham and some members of the Edwin James Festival Choir lend their voices to the church concerts which this year will include ‘Peacemakers’ by Karl Jenkins in April, the Flower Festival in June, a Prom Concert in September, Remembrance and a Concert for St Cecelia in November.
2017 is already proving a busy year for the popular Edwin James Festival Choir, and all dates can be found here