The West Cork Choral Singers, a mixed choir of between 30 and 40 members under the musical directorship of Susan Nares, is based in West Cork, Ireland.
The choir usually holds its weekly practice every Monday night in St Matthew’s Hall, Church Cross, near Skibbereen. Choir members come from a radius of 40 kilometres and, at last count, comprised eight nationalities. Diversity is the raison d’être of the choir.
Our repertoire is a broad one, with a leaning towards classical rather than popular works. We aim to learn and perform at least one larger work from the classical or contemporary classical repertoire each year. We also take part in collaborations both at home and abroad when the opportunity arises.
Who can join the choir?
You do not need to have had formal voice lessons to take part in the West Cork Choral Singers. Members are, however, expected to be able to sing in pitch and with accurate rhythm. Sight-reading skills are useful but not essential, and practice tracks are often provided to assist learning. Our practice nights allow new members to brush up on their vocal and musical skills.
How do I join?
The choir supports itself through annual membership fees and fundraising activities. If you are interested but don’t have a lot of experience with choirs, why not just come along on Monday night and try out a rehearsal or two before committing? No harm in testing the water to see whether our music suits you! After a few weeks, WCCS will audition you to assess which voice part is best for you.
So, if you are interested or want to find out more, please get in touch using our contact page.
Take the plunge and join us on Mondays for our weekly rehearsal!
In December 1990, following the Carol Service in Abbeystrewry Church, the Reverend Richard Henderson asked Ann Chambers (a locally-based American artist) to invite non-Church of Ireland members to help boost the strength of the choir for the next annual Carol Service. After a few practice sessions in her house this new ensemble performed at the 1991 service. Following this, they felt it was a shame not to be singing the whole year round, and this was how the idea of a choir was formed. Ann advertised for singers in January 1992 and the West Cork Choral Singers were founded.
It was a small group initially, comprising 6 sopranos, 4 altos, 2 tenors and 2 basses, some of whom are still with the choir today. The first performances were small events held at Abbeystrewry but in 1995 they performed a musical, The West Carbery Tram and Light Railway written, produced and directed by Ann Chambers. This led on to more ambitious projects like an abridged version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado.
In 1997 Ann decided to spend some time in America and in her absence the directorship of the choir was taken on by Margaret Newcombe, one of the choir members. They became known as the West Cork Singers. With no sign of Ann returning, Margaret suggested looking for a permanent replacement.
In 1998, Michael Elmsley, a member of the Bass section, happened to meet professional musician Diana Llewellyn who had recently moved to Ballydehob from Wales. She kindly agreed to take over as Musical Director , subsequently changing the name of the choir back to the current form of West Cork Choral Singers.
Diana led the choir for the next twenty years or so, expanding their repertoire with many major works and taking them on several overseas trips to collaborate with other choirs. They continued to do local Carol Services and fundraising concerts for various charities.
When Diana retired in 2019 her role was taken on by current director, Susan Nares, a professional musician with a broad range of musical experience.