Goldsmiths Choral Union is a high-quality choir that is still small and friendly enough to feel welcoming and inclusive. We’re looking for singers with good voices and reasonable sight reading, who would relish the opportuity to perform wonderful music with top orchestras and in fantastic venues.
We’re welcoming new singers (all parts) or those who just want to give us a try and see if we might be the choir for you. Men are always welcome to join or come along; with over thirty members across tenor (first and second) and bass (first and second) you’ll be in good company.
A friendly, high-quality choir led by renowned conductor Brian Wright
With Brian Wright as our conductor and Music Director, and regular guest professional soloists and musicians, singing at Goldsmiths feels more like you’re in a professional choir.
Brian is one of the most acclaimed and exciting conductors of our generation. He has conducted many of the UK’s major choirs, including at the Proms, and is a regular guest conductor all over Europe and Asia, having toured with the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Singapore Symphony Orchestras.
Whether you’re a confident singer, new to regular choral work or haven’t sung in a choir for some years, you’ll be part of one of the most exciting periods in Goldsmiths’ history, without losing any of the friendly feel of an amateur choir. You’ll be supported and developed throughout; Brian’s style is approachable, down to earth and encouraging.
Child of Heaven, composed by Sharon Pierson, Goldsmiths member, performed December 2016
A recent performance of Simpson’s Symphony no. 7 by the RLPO conducted by Brian Wright
Sing fabulous music in some of London’s finest venues
Our repertoire ranges from Monteverdi to Elgar, including recent performances of:
- Monteverdi Vespers of 1610
- Faure Requiem & Dvorak Mass in D
- Strauss, Bach, Handel et al at the Grand Organ Gala
- Beethoven’s 9th Symphony
- Handel’s Messiah
We regularly sing in the Royal Albert Hall, the Cadogan Hall and St John’s Smiths Square, among other fantastic and inspiring venues. If you want to enjoy the best of what London’s extraordinary cultural life has to offer, Goldsmiths may be the choir for you.
We welcome musicians of all ages and backgrounds
We’re looking for singers with good voices and reasonable sight reading ability. Entry to the choir is by audition, but we recognise that when you’re considering joining a choir it’s hard to know exactly what standard is needed.
We welcome you to our Wednesday night rehearsals for free so you can try us out. We can give support and guidance before auditions, should you choose to go ahead. You’ll be among friends, so if you’d like to come along or find out more, just email our secretary a few days in advance. There’s also more information about rehearsals and auditions in the FAQ below.
Reduced membership for under 30s
All are welcome at Goldsmiths, but we particularly welcome young members to the choir who we recognise may not be able to pay the full fee. Those under 30 can join for a half-price rate of £150/yr. There is a special rate for those under 26 of £10 per term. For those age 30 and over, our standard membership fee is £300/yr.
Being part of Goldsmiths is a great way to continue your passion for music after you leave college or university, and an opportunity to meet like-minded people from across London.
We ask you to attend a minimum number of rehearsals before a performance (please see FAQ), but don’t be discouraged if you’re a little late after lectures or work as that’s not a problem.
Location and rehearsals
Rehearsals take place once a week at Baden Powell House, 65-67 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5JS (nearest tube, Gloucester Road or South Kensington) on Wednesday evenings from 6.30 to 9.15 pm during term time.
Frequently Asked Questions
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!