Founded in 1896, Woking Choral Society is one of the UK’s foremost amateur choirs, comprising some 90 auditioned members. Currently under the leadership of conductor Ben Palmer, who was appointed as the choir’s fifth musical director in 2010, notable guest conductors have included Sir Edward Elgar (conducting a concert of his own works in 1920) and Woking resident Dame Ethel Smyth. The choir’s accopmanist is Penny Davis.
The choir gives three concerts each season, always with professional orchestra and soloists. Most concerts are held at the H. G. Wells Centre in Woking, but occasionally also in such venues as Guildford Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. In March 2013 WCS made its debut at London’s Southbank Centre, performing Berlioz’ Messe Solennelle with the Orchestra of St Paul’s at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The choir’s repertoire is diverse, contrasting firm favourites of the choral repertoire, such as the great works of Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn, with lesser-known gems by composers as varied as Hummel, Parry, Salieri and Ethel Smyth.
The 2017/18 season features performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at the HG Wells in Woking, as well as Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Covent Garden Sinfonia at Guildford Cathedral. Future performances will include Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Lotti’s Missa da Requiem. New members are always welcome.