ABOUT LEATHERHEAD CHORAL SOCIETY
Over its 94-year history LCS has built up an enviable reputation for the quality of its music making, innovative and enjoyable programmes and friendly welcoming character.
Directed since 2001 by Ian Assersohn, the choir is made up of singers with a wide range of musical experience and new members are welcomed without audition.
Our commitment to high standards in performance, along with Ian's communicative and engaging style help to make every LCS concert a special occasion, memorably enjoyable and musically fulfilling for choir and audience alike.
We generally put on a public concert in the summer and autumn, and often a Christmas concert too. In the Spring we take part every year (since 1928) in the Leith Hill Musical Festival in Dorking. This very special event, forever associated with its founder conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams, takes place in the Dorking Halls, which were built to house it. You can read more about the Festival on its website.
The creation of a choral society in Leatherhead was announced in the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser of 28th September 1907. However the current choir dates from 1928 when it became a Leith Hill Musical Festival choir. The first conductor was Margery Cullen who conducted LCS until 1937.
In 1938 LCS was conducted by B.S.Richmond and in 1939 by Kathleen Riddick, who conducted a variety of instrumental ensembles, something she continued to do during WWII and after. Also in 1939 Margery Cullen took on the role as Hon. Secretary of LHMC, a post she held until 1964.
After WW2 the choir continued under Mabel Fuller, who also ran the Leatherhead School of Music from her home at Devon House. She was succeeded in 1961 by Victor Yates, in 1965 by Beverly Manning and in 1969 by Joan Kemp-Potter, who remains the longest serving conductor of LCS to date. She in turn was succeeded by Anthony Cairns and, in 2001, by our current Musical Director, Ian Assersohn.
The choir today
Trophies won at the Leith HIll Festival 2022
The choir’s year tends to follow a three-term structure, with a Spring term consumed by preparations for the Leith Hill Musical Festival, and Summer and Autumn terms leading to concerts.
Highlights of the last few years have included performances of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man in Leatherhead Theatre, Verdi’s Requiem in GLive and Ian’s own work Dies Irae in Dorking Halls. The choir went on tour to Belgium in 2018 to represent the UK in a festival to celebrate the centenary of the liberation of Mons. In January 2023 the choir mounted a special "Concert For Peace" in Leatherhead Theatre to raise awareness and money for charities helping Ukrainian refugees.
Other large-scale works preformed in recent years have included Bach's cantata Jesu Meine Freude, Haydn's Nelson Mass, Handel's Israel in Egypt, Sarah Quartel's Snow Angel, Ian's The Pied Piper of Hamelin and Ionian Mass, and a choral arrangement of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending.
In common with other performing groups LCS was largely silent during the Covid pandemic, although Zoom rehearsals and sessions were helpful in keeping the choir spirit together, and the choir put together some virtual choir videos including Ian's The Rook Ascending which has received nearly 7,000 views.