About Us

Musical Director - John Henville
Assistant to Musical Director - Ian Stearn
Accompanist - Julie Mackrill

The Duchess of Norfolk is President of Arun Choral Society

and Cliff and Stella Stone and Dr James Walsh are Vice-Presidents.

The Society was founded in 1912; George V on the throne, Duke Henry in the recently completed Castle; the year of Elgar's Violin Concerto and Debussy's Preludes. The choir is made up of approximately 110 singers from the age of 17 upwards. Singers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, many with a choral music interest of long standing but others more recently attracted to the enjoyment of choral singing. Over a period of years the choir has typically performed major concerts in the spring and autumn of each year and carol concerts on two consecutive weekends in December, when children from schools in the Arun community join with the Society. Additionally, the last twenty five years has seen the choir performing charity concerts on a regular basis and in that period the Society is delighted to have raised in excess of £50,000 for local and national charities.

The majority of the choir's concerts in recent years have been performed in Arundel Cathedral with the support and co-operation of the administrators of the cathedral and its personnel and the society continues to be extremely grateful for the assistance it receives.

During the last decades Arun Choral Society has developed links with a Berlin choir and in 2015 saw the latest exchange visit when Members of Arun Choral Society travelled to Berlin when they joined the local Choir in a performance of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. Over the years, in addition to the pleasure of performing music together, the exchange has led to the forging of many new enduring friendships.

The range of music sung is extensive. The Society's concerts in 2015 included Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, Tippett's Spirituals from A Child of Our Time, Haydn's Nelson Mass and Mozart's Vesperae Solennes de Confessore. Works performed in recent years include Bach's Magnificat, Vivaldi's Gloria, Beethoven's Mass in C, the Requiems of Brahms, Rutter, Fauré, Verdi and Duruflé; Bach's Mass in B Minor, St John Passion and St Matthew Passion; Haydn's Marie Thérèse Mass, Creation Mass, and The Creation; Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, The Kingdom, The Music Makers and Spirit of England; Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise, St Paul and Elijah, Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem and Handel's Messiah, Israel in Egypt, and Dixit Dominus. In its centenary Concert in 2012, the Choir performed Elgar's Coronation Ode, Gounod's St Cecilia Mass and Dvorak's Te Deum to great acclaim.

The Society has a smaller, but developing, repertoire of more modern music. In 2006 it gave the UK première of a Requiem composed by Jil Bartley, an English composer who lives in France. They have also performed Blake's Benedictus and George Dyson's Canterbury Pilgrims. The Choir also participates in the Arundel by Candlelight Event each December and in recent years, has performed a Summer Concert of lighter music in a local venue.

In this year's Spring Concert in Arundel Cathedral on Saturday 16th April, the Choir performed Durufle's Requiem and Rutter's Magnificat. There will be a Summer Concert of lighter music in the Woodlands Centre in Rustington on Saturday 16th July. The Autumn Concert on 22nd October will include Puccini's Messa di Gloria and Elgar's The Music Makers.

Musical Director John Henville
John studied at the college of St. Mark and St. John, Chelsea, where he obtained his degree from London University and his Teacher's Certificate from the Institute of Education. John spent the whole of his teaching career in schools in West Sussex, lastly as Head of Music at Littlehampton Community School.

He started to play the organ whilst still at school and has held the position of organist and choirmaster at a number of churches in the vicinity, including Aldwick and Arundel Parish Churches. Recital venues have included Chichester and Arundel Cathedrals and several churches in Berlin where he has been a guest of the German Lutheran Church. He is currently organist and choir director at Lyminster Parish Church.

John has been associated with Arun Choral Society since 1983. Following a period as acting Musical Director, he was appointed to his present position in March 1995.

Assistant to Musical Director Ian Stearn
Accompanist Julie Mackrill