We hope this will answer all the questions you have about GCU, but please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any more information.
How do I go about joining GCU?
Come along and join any of our rehearsals and ask to meet our Membership Secretary. If you enjoy the evenings you can make an application to join us. You’ll find our rehearsal schedule on our website, here.
Where and when does the choir rehearse?
The choir’s current rehearsal venue is the Assembly Room at Baden Powell House, 65 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5JS (nearest underground stations: Gloucester Road and South Kensington). Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evenings during term time between 6.30 and 9.30 pm.
Do I need to audition?
Yes. Following a few rehearsals, once you are comfortable that you enjoy the choir, you’ll take a straightforward audition which consists of a series of simple scales to assess your voice part, a song you know well and feel comfortable singing accompanied by the piano and a basic test of sight singing. All members of GCU are re-auditioned every four years.
What does the choir wear for performances?
Normal concert dress is as follows:
Black dinner suits; black bow ties (and cummerbunds, if desired); white shirt; black shoes; black socks.
Ankle-length, long-sleeved, high-necked black dress, or black blouse and black skirt or smart black evening-style trousers or divided skirt; black popsocks, stockings or tights; black shoes; a Leo (see below); a small black handbag (if required).
All choir members should use a black choir music folder, which can be purchased from the choir before all concerts.
What is a Leo?
A Leo is a gold-painted ornamental badge made of sheet metal in the form of a leopard’s head worn on a plain black ribbon around the neck as a pendant by the ladies of the Goldsmiths Choral Union at all our concerts. The stylized leopard’s head also serves as the Goldsmiths Choral Union’s logo on all our stationery, publicity and programmes and also on this Website. It reflects our connection with our patron, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, and we all wear our Leos with pride!
How often does GCU perform during the year?
The GCU promotes, either on its own or in association with another organisation, at least four concerts a year. It also participates in concerts promoted by other organisations, such as Raymond Gubbay Ltd., and undertakes overseas concert trips. Currently its tours abroad take place about every three years. See GCU Abroad page.
Does the choir provide music for concerts?
The GCU does not provide free copies of music to its members for the performances that it promotes, but scores can be purchased or hired through the choir librarian. Music for concerts not promoted by the GCU may sometimes be provided, as in the case of Classical Spectaculars for Raymond Gubbay Ltd., but such music must be subsequently returned in good condition.
Where does the choir perform?
GCU performs quite regularly at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Cadogan Hall. Other recent venues have included the Barbican and the Church of St John the Baptist, Waterloo.
For a full list of our concert venues, both past and present, click here.
How much is the subscription? Are there any concessions?
The current membership subscription is £300 per year. Subscriptions may be paid in full at the start of a season, or in instalments at the beginning of each term. Special arrangements are available for members receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Universal Credit or Pension Credit: currently this reduced subscription is £90. Those age 25 and under pay only £10 per term and 26-29 pay half price (£150 per year).
How is the choir run?
Goldsmiths Choral Union is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. Liability is limited to £1. All members of GCU are shareholders and are asked to sign a shareholder form upon being accepted into membership.
The choir’s activities are organised and managed by a committee led by a Chairman, who has overall responsibility for running the choir. The committee is also comprised of the following officers and members:
The Hon. Secretary is the Choir Administrator, deals with day to day business and is happy to discuss any problems with members.
The Treasurer deals with all financial matters.
The Concert Manager undertakes the majority of the organisation of concerts.
The Membership Secretary deals with all applications for membership and is responsible for seating arrangements at concerts.
The Music Director is paid by the choir against a contract for agreed services.
A support team assists the committee by filling a number of important roles, such as Concert Programme Editor and Website Manager. Among the most important members of this team are the Part Representatives, or Part Reps, for each voice section. These members act as a bridge between the committee and the general body of choir members. Part Reps answer any queries from members in their section and will pass on any ideas, suggestions and complaints to any member of the Committee.
Do I have to sing in every concerts?
Yes choir members are expected to be available to sing in all concerts promoted by GCU. Realistically, there will be times when attending a concert is impossible because of illness, work or some other pressing reason. If you have to withdraw from a concert for any reason, you should inform the Membership Secretary as soon as possible, either directly or through your Part Rep.
How many rehearsals must I attend?
Members are expected to attend every rehearsal, but realistically occasional absences through illness or pressing work or family commitments are unavoidable. However, there is a minimum number of rehearsals that members must attend in order to be assured of singing in a concert. Under the choir’s rules this minimum is 80%. Members who attend less than this minimum will probably not be allowed to sing in the concert, but the Music Director has authority to waive this rule if the circumstances merit it.
Final piano and orchestral rehearsals are COMPULSORY. If you have a problem about either of these, you must see the Music Director about it and you must tell the Membership Secretary of the Music Director’s decision.
Occasionally extra rehearsals may be called on days other than Wednesday, especially when the concert is scheduled to take place on a Wednesday. Very often these are final orchestral rehearsals, which members must attend.
Is there a ticket-selling commitment?
Although there is no minimum number of tickets that an individual is asked to sell, all choir members are expected to make every effort to sell as many tickets as possible for both our own promotions and our collaborative events in order to defray the enormous expenses of concert-giving. We also ask our members to publicise concerts by distributing leaflets and encouraging their friends to attend. Tickets for concerts promoted by the choir can be bought at rehearsals in the weeks before the concert.
Are there any social events?
The choir’s chief workshop events – its two Summer Sings, held in June or July and open to the general public – involve an important social element; during the break and at the end of the workshop there is a drinks reception so we can get to know each other better. We have the occasional social event during the course of the year. The choir’s trips abroad also provide excellent opportunities for socialising.
We hope you will come along and meet us – you will be very welcome!