Based in the ancient village of Fletching, near Uckfield, we have performed a wide variety of choral music in mid-Sussex for over 30 years - from folksongs to Latin Masses - and have built up a large and loyal following in the local community.
Why Not Join Us?
We always welcome new singers, and invite you to come to one of our rehearsals for a sing to help you decide whether you'd like to become a member.
You can get in touch via our Contact page...
A Brief History
The Fletching Singers have been in existence for over 30 years, providing enjoyment for the singers and entertainment for their audiences. The group began at a carol singing party at Christmas 1979: some six or eight friends went around Fletching singing carols, being plied at each house with sherry. The tour ended at the vicarage, where John Elson, the vicar, had invited them for more singing (and more sherry). It was as much that the group were clearly enjoying themselves as the excellence of the singing that inspired people to ask afterwards "Can we join?" , to which the friends replied, "Join what?"
The group invited anyone who wanted to sing for fun to get together and sing at Rock Cottage on Monday evenings. The original group was rather unusual for the village, in that it represented all age groups, all classes and professions. As one founder member, Philippa Shepherd, said, "We had a lot of good laughs and a lot of parties, and didn't take ourselves too seriously. Quite a few of the people who came along hadn't even sung in harmony before then, but fairly soon we were singing Bach chorales ( rather badly, I suspect) and getting invited to perform at village functions."
The first conductor was Douglas Wragg. Later, Mark Wigglesworth (then 18 or so) asked if he could come and practise conducting with us for a few months - he taught us a lot - we joke that we "gave him his start", (he ended up conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra). Yvonne Jordan, a school teacher from Uckfield, then became our permanent conductor.
The choir sang a range of music from Madrigals to Beatles' songs and Country and Western. Fletching Village Hall became the rehearsal venue when the Shepherds moved to Washington, USA. Over the next few years, with increased numbers and advancing musical standards, the choir achieved a performance of Schubert's Mass in G in Fletching Church before Yvonne retired in the Spring of 1988.
In September 1988 Anne Gee became the new conductor. Anne and her husband had recently returned from Papua New Guinea where she'd conducted the University choir. Jose Thompson retired as rehearsal accompanist and Fiona Fawssett took over.
Anne Gee's influence on the choir with her optimism and boundless energy was far reaching. More singers were attracted and more ambitious works performed, with professional soloists and musicians. An Advent Concert where a major choral work was followed by carols for choir and audience became a feature of the repertoire. John Walker accompanied on the organ and for some concerts there was also an ensemble of instrumentalists. Carol singing was and still is important. Audiences were attracted and local press coverage appeared. The rarely heard Handel "Occasional Oratorio" formed part of the celebrations marking the bi-centenary of the historian Edward Gibbon. Profits from these concerts enabled the Fletching Singers to contribute funds to various local charities.
On Anne Gee's retirement in 1997, Tim Sagar, then the director of music at Brighton College Junior School, was appointed conductor. The Fletching Singers continued to give two annual concerts with more challenging works being performed. David Ollosson was the usual concert organist and on occasions choristers and instrumentalists from the College joined the choir.
In 2002, the choir were very pleased to welcome Nick Milner-Gulland, the retired headmaster and music director of Cumnor House Preparatory School, to became conductor and a new chapter for the Fletching Singers began. Singing membership grew yet again and audience numbers increased. An evening of Elizabethan Madrigals in the garden of Clinton Lodge, Fletching, was described by a member of the audience as "a rare treat". In April 2003, the choir sang Mozart's Requiem, and Carmina Burana to capacity audiences. Picnics, strawberries and a firework display completed the "Summer Spectacular".
2004 saw the beginning of a link with Ryde Chorus from the Isle of Wight and two performances of Bach's St John Passion were given, one at Buxted and one on the Island; in 2008 we again joined forces for Brahms' A German Requiem. Thanks to Nick's musical links the Choir also performed a programme of English Music to an appreciative audience at L'Eglise de St. Rémy in Dieppe. An excellent performance of Handel's Messiah was the musical highlight of 2005. Since then we have performed Beethoven’s Mass in C and Choral Fantasy, Gay’s The Beggar's Opera, Haydn's Paukenmesse, Harmoniemesse, Nelson Mass and Te Deum, Purcell's King Arthur and The Fairy Queen, Fauré's Requiem, six Bach Cantatas, and (in the garden of Mount Harry House, Offham) Handel's Acis and Galatea. We have twice spent a week in the Dordogne, giving concerts in several local churches, including Sarlat Cathedral.
A new link was forged in 2010 with the Crowborough Choral Society, with whom we have been able to perform such mighty works as Haydn's Creation, Orff's Carmina Burana and Dvorak's Stabat Mater. Our summer concerts now take place in the beautiful new theatre of Cumnor House School, Danehill, where we have produced Dido and Aeneas, a Madrigal evening, Trial by Jury and "Shakespeare in Song", often enlivened by the expert dancers from the Susanna Cox Dance Academy. Our Advent concerts, in aid of charity, are now put on in Fletching Church.
In late November 2017, after 15 years of directing the choir, Nick Milner-Gulland sadly and unexpectedly died after a short illness. He had been intending to retire in March 2018 and had already arranged for the choir to perform Bach’s St Matthew Passion in All Saints Church Hove, in a joint performance with East Sussex Bach Choir on Palm Sunday. The Fletching Singers were very proud to be able to continue with this plan (with help from Nick’s many friends in the musical community) and performed this monumental work to a capacity audience in Nick’s memory, accompanied by The Baroque Collective and a group of top soloists.
Michael Fields was appointed Music Director from April 2018, and so begins a new era for the Fletching Singers.
The Fletching Singers still have lots of fun and whilst we still don't take ourselves too seriously, we continue to enjoy making music.