Suffolk Singers started with a handful of apprehensive volunteers in the Autumn of 1991. After a few weeks they settled to weekly rehearsals at the Baptist Church at Earl Soham.
In 2004 Andrew retired. Until this point Andrew had sole control of what the choir did but at this point a committee was formed and from 28 October 2004, Rob Goodrich became the new Music Director of Suffolk Singers. Rob was Head of Music at Framlingham College and his contacts opened up new experiences for Suffolk Singers.
Suffolk Singers were first introduced to soprano Claire Weston when she performed as a guest soloist in a Christmas concert at Rushmere Church in 2007. Little did we know then what a huge influence and asset she would become to the choir.
Rob left us rather suddenly in 2009 after being offered a job in a school on the other side of the country, leaving us the task of trying to find a replacement at very short notice. Claire Weston offered to stand in until we had time to advertise the post of Music Director and hold interviews. After a few weeks with us Claire decided that she wanted to stay and the choir willingly agreed to appoint her as Music Director. Claire then set about working hard on improving our singing technique to make us the respected choir we are today.
Claire’s experience as a professional singer has meant that we have all benefitted from her coaching to improve our performances.
In Spring 2016, we were invited to take part in a concert at the Ipswich Regent with the group G4. Later that uear, we recorded a short piece for the Constable episode of Sky Arts programme on Great Arts Walks in Britain, made in association with Tate Britain and presented by Richard E Grant.
We have had some truly memorable experiences including a wonderful trip to Ireland singing in some beautiful churches and in 2018 we had the most amazing trip to Belgium. The Highlight of the trip was to sing at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. We were originally asked to sing 2 pieces while wreaths were laid by various organisations from around the world. At the last minute it seemed there were more wreaths to be laid than expected so we had to make a quick decision as to which additional pieces we should sing. It was an incredibly moving experience, in front of probably one of the largest audiences we have ever had.
Below is a poem written by Angela Carter who was one of our singers at the time. It may give you a little insight into our rehearsal nights with Rob Goodrich:
Through misty lanes and byways the ghostly figures come.
Some chattering, some silent, some whistle and some hum
They skirt the looming buildings and stumble through the gloom
Until they ultimately reach the safety of a room –
Well not so much a room it seems, it’s more an ancient ruin.
A portacabin, long condemned, to put this motley crew in.
The lights are on, the chairs are moved as far as they are able The makings of a soothing drink are placed upon a table.
The windows are flung open wide and then are promptly shut. The heaters are switched on and off – no ancient ritual but A vain attempt to remedy the faulty thermostat
Of certain members of the group – but that’s enough of that.
A green machine flies up the road, a throaty roar is heard.
A screech of brakes, he has arrived, more swiftly than a bird.
He strides into the waiting throng, his keyboard at the ready.
The music’s out, the throats are cleared, his gaze is long and steady. They’re warming up, the zooming starts and not one person lingers. It’s Thursday night, it’s eight o’clock and it’s THE SUFFOLK SINGERS