About the choir
Gravesham Choral Society was founded in 1978 and has gone from strength to strength under the baton of our highly experienced, inspirational conductor Alan Vincent, who took over as Music Director in 1981. In terms of rehearsals, we follow the academic year, meeting weekly over three terms for two hours on Wednesday evenings with breaks at half terms.
At the end of each term, in November, April and June, we put on a concert. This is usually in the beautiful church of St George’s in Gravesend but in the spring this takes place in historic Rochester Cathedral which allows a joyous celebration of choral music in a magnificent setting. For most of our concerts we engage professional soloists who are a joy to sing with – and listen to - and we are accompanied by either an orchestra of very talented musicians or organ. In the cathedral space an orchestra really brings to life the music we have been rehearsing from each January. Alan keeps the choir on their musical toes by drawing on choral favourites such as Handel’s Messiah and Fauré’s Requiem and works such as Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation and Poulenc’s Gloria (all performed in recent years). For many of our singers the works are completely new, whereas others may have sung them previously. Alan expertly navigates a middle ground in order to provide both challenge and encouragement for all singers whatever their experience.
In addition to our three principal concerts, we manage to squeeze in rehearsals for one or two Christmas concerts at St George’s. The programme of well-loved and lesser-known carols, some of which are written or arranged by our very own Alan Vincent, are enjoyed by many, particularly as these are more relaxed occasions where audiences are invited to join in and sing with gusto!
Every other year we have an ‘Instant’, where we meet in St George’s, Gravesend, for an enjoyable afternoon of singing followed by a lavish buffet tea and a ‘scratch’ concert. At the end of each term, as part of our rehearsal, we have a chance to mingle and chat with friends in the choir over wine and seasonal nibbles.
Gravesham Choral Society is a registered charity (No. 278822) aiming to promote enjoyment and appreciation of choral music in the area of North West Kent. GCS is very grateful to its many sponsors who are listed in our concert programmes.
our director of music
Alan Vincent has worked extensively with young people and adults during a long career as a conductor of choirs and orchestras. After studying at Clare College, Cambridge and London University’s Institute of Education he worked in education for many years, as both a teacher and an inspector for music. He founded and conducted Kent Youth Choir and Kent Schools Orchestra and, for adults, Kent Chamber Choir and the occasional Chorus, Kent County Singers.
For 17 years Alan was music director and principal conductor of Kent County Youth Orchestra with which he appeared at venues in Kent, the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. He has toured widely in South America and Europe with this orchestra and with Kent Chamber Choir.
Today, Alan maintains a busy conducting schedule in which he is fortunate to have the pleasure and privilege of working with talented young choral and orchestral musicians in Kent, and with experienced adults, professional soloists and orchestral musicians with Gravesham Choral Society and Kent Chamber Choir.
Our rehearsal pianist
Roger Harris is our regular, exceptionally able rehearsal pianist. Roger’s experience is invaluable - when the choir get ‘lost’, Roger is invariably ready with the right note or bar! In his youth, Roger was a member of the Royal Artillery Band playing piano, clarinet and saxophone and is now retired after a long career in local government. He has been an accompanist for many singers and musicians over the years and says he enjoys the special musical relationship of producing the ‘best’ achievable performance. Roger has been our rehearsal pianist since 2001 and fortunately for the choir, in spite of the distractions of grandchildren and travelling, he still finds plenty of time to practise the piano!