The Society has its origins in 1949 when the Mayor of Surbiton gathered local church choirs to sing Messiah in March 1950. A nucleus of these singers stayed together and became Surbiton Oratorio Society, soon earning a reputation for concerts of a high standard. By 1985, the Society had become more closely involved with the Royal Borough of Kingston and adopted its current name.
The Choir has about 130 singers and has retained a reputation for quality music making. It performs with a period-instrument orchestra when singing Bach, Handel and other early repertoire and works with soloists of the highest calibre. Several have sung lead roles in international opera houses, including Teatro La Fenice, Venice, the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne.
The Society gives four concerts a year, covering a wide range of music from Bach to Gershwin, and is not afraid to take on ambitious projects. The summer 2013 concert included a new work, And since to look at things in bloom commissioned from its former conductor, the rising composer Graham Ross. In November 2013 the Society performed Haydn’s Creation in Cadogan Hall and in March 2014 Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with period instruments of the Purcell Orchestra and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble. The Society returned to Cadogan Hall to perform Verdi’s Requiem and Bach’s B Minor Mass in June 2015 and March 2018, respectively. The Society enjoys singing both the favourites of the choral repertoire, including popular opera choruses, as well as less well known works.
Concerts in 2019/20 included the unjustly neglected, but enchanting Mendelssohn’s St Paul with the Thames Sinfonia in the beautifully restored All Saints Church in Kingston. Unfortunately the planned concerts for March and June had to be cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. We re-started rehearsals in September 2021, and hope to be able to perform four concerts as normal in the 2021/22 season.
Our talented Musical Director, Andrew Griffiths, was appointed in January 2011. See Our Musicians for more information. He followed Graham Ross who left to take up the post of Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge.
Registered Charity 261522