Concert and Workshop Information

Due to the current health crisis the choir will be unable to rehearse or perform for the foreseeable future. This site will be updated as soon as we are able to resume and in the meantime we hope all our members and supporters stay safe and well.

Saturday 24th April 2021

Concert -
Karl Jenkins - The Armed Man
St Mary's Parish Church, Causeway, Horsham, 7.30pm

Saturday 20th November 2021

Concert -
Brahms - Liebeslieder
Haazen - Missa Luba
St Mary's Parish Church, Causeway, Horsham, 7.30pm

Saturday 23rd April 2022

Concert -
Bach - St John Passion
St Mary's Parish Church, Causeway, Horsham, 7.30pm

Saturday 19th November 2022

Concert -
An Evening with Elgar
Eric Whitacre - Sleep, Seal Lullaby
Judith Weir - I Love All Beauteous Things
St Mary's Parish Church, Causeway, Horsham, 7.30pm

Saturday 22nd April 2023

Concert -
Rutter - Requiem
Bernstein - Chichester Psalms
St Mary's Parish Church, Causeway, Horsham, 7.30pm

Tickets (Horsham concerts only): £15 on the door, unless otherwise shown,
and in advance from Horsham Piano Centre, Waterstones, The Candy Box
or from Choir members

Programmes subject to change without notice.

Choir concert at St Mary's Church, Horsham

About the West Sussex Philharmonic Choir (WSPC)

We are now in our 42nd season, and currently have about 70 singers drawn from the Horsham area.

Our season runs from September to April. In November and April, we perform two concerts at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Horsham.

After the autumn concert we perform a carol concert which, this year, will take place on the bandstand in Horsham's Carfax in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

December concert at St Mark's church, Horsham
December concert at St Mark's church, Horsham

Professional musicians – both soloists and orchestral players - support our concerts. The orchestral players make up the 'Sinfonia da Chiesa', and we are all under the baton of our Music Director, Stephen Hope, who founded the Sussex Festival Choir.

Rehearsals are held in 'The Barn', Causeway, Horsham, on Tuesday evenings from 8.00 - 10.00pm, and new members in all voices are always welcome.

We sing a full range of classic choral music from Henry Purcell to Gabriel Fauré, plus music from contemporary composers such as John Rutter, Karl Jenkins, Philip Ledger and Bob Chilcott, and encourage all singers to embrace a wider range of singing ability!

Patrick McGuinness-Smith

Vice Presidents:
Gilly Smith, Liz Yeats, David Stoner, Beth Johnson, Duncan Smeaton

The West Sussex Philharmonic Choir is a registered charity. Number 276763

Music Director

Stephen Hope

After attending Canterbury Cathedral Choir School and the King's School, Stephen continued his musical training as an organ scholar at Bristol University where he specialised in keyboard performance and conducting.

His award of a coveted Fellowship to the Conductors' Institute of America led to study under the likes of Morton Gould and Lukas Foss.

He has worked extensively both as pianist and conductor with a number of societies and orchestras. these include the English National Orchestra, English Northern Philharmonia, London City Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre and The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the USA.

Stephen Hope
Stephen Hope

He has worked with many international artists including Jack Brymer, Dame Felicity Lott, Dame Ann Murray, Sir Willard White, Dame Emma Kirkby, Neil Jenkins, James Bowman and David Wilson-Johnson.

Stephen's work in the theatre saw him conduct highly acclaimed performances of Nabucco, Masked Ball, Carmen and Turandot with Bel Canto Festival Opera during his four years as their Music Director.

He regularly engages orchestras and artists for shows and concerts and has broadcast on Classic FM and LBC. He maintains a parallel career as organist in his posts as Director of Music at St. John's, Belmont and the Streatham Liberal Synagogue. He is also a member of the music staff of Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom.

He is Music Director for the West Sussex PhilharmonicChoir (WSPC) and Basildon Choral Society (BCS).

In 2002 Stephen formed his own orchestra, Sinfonia da Chiesa and founded the Sussex Festival Choir (SFC) the following year. The SFC is primarily made up of singers from WSPC and BCS, with individual singers joining in from around Sussex and Surrey, forming a choir of some 180 singers.

Together they have performed a major choral work in Arundel Cathedral every year since, raising over £100,000 for St. Catherine’s and St. Wilfrid’s Hospices.

Recent highlights have included concerts with Sinfonia da Chiesa at Cadogan Hall, St John’s, Smith Square and Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

Summer singing

Future Sussex Festival Choir Events

Also, see Sussex Festival Choir website

During the summer, members have the option of participating in the Sussex Festival Choir (SFC), to perform, in July, a major choral work with full orchestra, in support of the Hospice movement.

Visits every other year to Europe have become a feature of early summer activities for SFC.

The SFC has given concerts in Bruges, Florence, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Krakow, Salzburg, and Bologna.

Short reports of the visits can be seen here:

(each opens as .pdf file 500KB)

A brief tour to Bruges took place in 2016 and a full week's visit to Prague took place in 2018.

Members also have the opportunity twice a year of joining residency week-ends at cathedrals in the South of England. Recent visits have included Bath Abbey, Canterbury, Chichester, Hereford, Norwich, St. Albans, Wells, Salisbury, Winchester and Peterborough.

Pfarrkirche, Mülln, Austria
Pfarrkirche, Mülln, Austria

Join us


The choir is always pleased to welcome new members in all voices. Experience is a help, but is by no means compulsory.

The season commences in September and continues until the following April. At this point preparation for any planned tour and Sussex Festival Choir activity takes over until the end of July.

The cost for the 2019/2020 season is £120.00 for the full season – or £65 per half season or £115 for 2 terms if paid in advance. Students in full time education pay £10.00 per half season. Please see registration form for payment details.


These take place weekly on Tuesday evenings between 8.00 and 10.00pm at The Barn in The Causeway, Horsham.

They are hard working sessions but sociable as well, where members enjoy their singing and have fun at the same time.

Future season practice start dates for 2021:

Tuesday 5th January 2021
as WSPC, for our concert in April.


choir rehearsal
Choir rehearsal

Contact us

For further information about joining,
contact our Membership Secretary, Penny Stewart - tel 01403 242938 or email
or Chairman, Suzanne Gates - tel 01403 730785 or email

Support our choir
─ without singing a note

We strive to maintain high musical standards and this means that staging a concert is a costly business.


Individual music lovers can help the choir financially by becoming patrons. For £60 annual payment in advance, a patron receives two complimentary tickets for each of our two main concerts – four tickets altogether.

Current Patrons:

Mr O Farley, Mr I Jepps, Mrs C King - Life Patron, Mr P Westrip

Friends of the Choir

Option 1 - For an annual donation of £10, Friends receive one free interval drink per concert.

Option 2 - For an annual donation of £50, Friends receive one free ticket for each WSPC concert (excluding the charity carol concert) and one free interval drink per concert.

Current Friends:

Mr J Stewart


Individuals may support the choir by sponsoring a soloist or an instrumentalist for a contribution usually up to £150

For as little as £25 a half-page black & white advertisement can be displayed in our programme.

We run a regular feature entitled Phil’s Dining Club. By taking a full page advert, a restaurant can feature a full-page editorial about their specialities, times of opening etc, and on the facing page, their advert. Thus, two full-pages for only £75.

Patrons, Friends and Sponsors are acknowledged in the concert programmes.

For more information about becoming a Patron, Friend or Sponsor, please email our Supporters Liaison Secretary

The West Sussex Philharmonic Choir is a registered charity number 276763
at Horsham parish church
Choir Concert at Horsham Parish Church


The choir was formed in 1978 with the expressed aim “to provide a platform for those who want to sing in a larger choral group than a chamber or church choir; and, by being a larger group, to embrace a wider range of abilities.”

With this ethos, the choir was launched by two musical amateurs, both now sadly deceased. A local GP, Dr John Dew, was the first Chairman; and a bank manager, Laurie Carcas – no mean viola player himself – undertook the musical direction.

The inaugural concert at Christ’s Hospital School was a resounding success.

Early Days

At the outset concerts were accompanied by an orchestra largely consisting of amateur players, but featured professional vocal soloists.

Over the years several rising stars have performed with the choir. Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Evelyn Tubb and Jane Eaglin are three vocalists who went on to attain international recognition.


In the mid 80’s it was decided that there should be a professional Music Director; we now have the services of Stephen Hope, under whose persuasive baton the choir thrives. His orchestra - the Sinfonia da Chiesa - is composed entirely of professional musicians.

The choir has had three Music Directors –
1978 – 1985      Laurie Carcas : Trevor Hoskins – deputy
1985 – 2002      Robin Page : Matthew Taylor – deputy
2002 – present  Stephen Hope.


The range of music presented is wide. Major choral works such as Brahms German Requiem, Bach Mass in B minor and Beethoven Missa Solemnis have been performed, as well as many works by Mozart, Schubert, Haydn and Dvorak.

English composers have not been overlooked with Britten, Rutter, and Elgar featured in our programmes. 20th century works such as Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky and Kodaly Psalmus Hungaricus have also been performed. The music of George Gershwin and his contemporaries formed the basis of one memorable concert.

View the repertoire of the choir (opens as .pdf file 60KB)

Concert venues

Early concerts were held at Christ’s Hospital School but in pursuit of a more central venue, the Arts Centre theatre (now the Capitol) was chosen. Since the theatre’s rebuild, most concerts now take place at St.Mary’s Parish Church in Horsham’s Causeway.

Three early photographs (opens as .pdf file 300KB)

The choir has also performed in Symphony Hall, Birmingham; Guildford and Arundel Cathedrals; The Hawth, Crawley and The Fairfield Halls, Croydon - not to mention many venues on overseas tours.

See reports on previous tours -
Krakow 2011 -- Salzburg 2013 -- Italy 2015
(all open as .pdf files approx. 500KB)

WSPC choir at Horsham Parish Church
WSPC choir at Horsham Parish Church

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