Surrey Cantata

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Surrey Cantata

Sebastian Forbes rehearsing Surrey Cantata in Southwark Cathedral, London, 2011.

The choir was formed with ease, with membership drawn from several choirs that Sebastian Forbes has conducted over the years, in particular the Horniman Singers, Guildford Chamber Choir, and former students who sang under him in the University of Surrey Chamber Choir.

Membership for each event of Surrey Cantata is by personal invitation rather than by audition. This process ensures that the highest musical standards are achieved with a small number of singers. Each individual feels committed to making a genuine contribution towards a closely integrated manner of performance.

Sebastian Forbes

Choral singing and conducting have been central to the musical career of Sebastian Forbes. First came his period as a chorister at Hampstead Parish Church, London. Here, with the training of the legendary Martindale Sidwell, he was principal treble soloist in the early 1950s, the heyday of the choir, with numerous broadcasts, London concerts, and recordings.

In his student days at Cambridge, Sebastian Forbes sang in the Chapel Choir of King's College. He has since directed many choirs - large and small, professional, semi-professional, student and amateur. He conducted concerts, broadcasts and recordings with the Aeolian Singers in the late 1960s, with an emphasis on J S Bach and new British music. He was similarly active with the Seiriol Singers (Bangor University) with whom he won the UK mixed-voice round of the BBC's Let the Peoples Sing in 1971. A decade later he again achieved this accolade, with the Horniman Singers, with whom, for ten years, he gave numerous London concerts (St John's Smith Square, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room). For 34 years, he was very active with the choirs of Surrey University. For 20 years he directed the music for the famous Nativity drama at Wintershall, near Guildford. He is a regular guest conductor of the Guildford Chamber Choir and also at St Martin's Church, Blackheath, and he also directs a newly-formed octet, In Nomine.

He is Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Surrey. He is also a CD producer and a long-established composer (see the entries in The New Grove, 1981 and 2000).

Surrey Cantata

Sebastian Forbes directing Surrey Cantata in West Clandon Church.